We took a break from chicken farms on Monday to spend the day at Ilima Primary School. We even taught a couple of English classes. The school was very interesting, so strict in some senses (for example the children are hit on the fingers with sticks if they show up with dirty hands). On this particular day, however, the children were given a few hours of recess! There’s a big academic and athletic competition coming up and Ilima needed to choose their fastest runners and best soccer and net ball players to compete against the other villages. It seems like the kids didn’t know how to react to us at first, but then by the end we had them playing drums and jumping and dancing around.
This week we also started visiting the Lubanda farmers. The village chose ten farmers to be potential teacher farmers. Eventually they will decide on only five. We went around asking the farmers questions about whether they would be willing to make the time commitment to attend training sessions, take on student farmers, and if they would be willing to vaccinate their chickens. We asked that the farmers be equally distributed throughout the village and they certainly were! We climbed up and down steep hills, traversed vast fields of beans and groundnuts as well as swamp land, and made our way through thick jungles of banana trees to get to all the farms. The landscape of both Lubanda and Ilima is amazing – all you can see is rolling green hills and mountains in the distance. There’s also a huge plateau not too far away that is believed to have magical powers. The last two farms were about a 45 minute walk down the side of a mountain. We walked (well I slid) down trails of slippery clay and mud. Most of our journey was spent out in the open in the hot sun, but there were times we were in the shade of the thick forest and we could hear waterfalls in the distance. When it was time to go back up the mountain I was surprised at how high it was! I took some pictures on the way, but they just don’t convey how awesome the scenery is.
On our first day visiting the Lubanda farms we were accompanied by two field extension officers that work with the regional veterinarian. They came to the poultry farms with us and we came along with them to check up on a mastitis cow along the way. The field extension officers go all around the different villages treating sick animals and providing some sort of agricultural assistance. They also perform post-mortems, which could be cool to do on any Ilima or Lubanda chickens that may die. Henry, one of the field extension officers told us that worms are a common problem with a lot of the chickens he has seen in the region, so this is something we need to look into. Many of the farmers have been treating for external parasites, but not internal ones. The de-wormer is relatively inexpensive and is something that could be shared between farmers. We also were told that infectious colitis is quite common and indeed we did see a few chickens with the disease at a few of the farms.
We decided to do something touristy on Saturday. Shona and I went with a local guide named Christoph on an all-day adventure to Kaporogwe Falls. We went through the tour company Rungwe Tea Tours. We took the bus to Tukuyu and met with the tour director, who looks like a thinner Samuel L. Jackson with leather gloves hobbling around on crutches. Apparently he had a bad fall on a trip to the big crater nearby. Needless to say he did not come along for the bike ride and hike. Anyway we talked to him about doing a few more trips to places nearby – like some of the mountains and Lake Masoka. From Tukuyu we rode our rickety old Chinese bikes along gravel and dirt/mud roads to the falls. We hiked down the side of a mountain to cross an Indiana-Jones type wooden bridge built around the time of World War I. We hiked back up to a large cave right behind Kaporogwe Falls. It was incredible to be right behind the waterfall! Although the mostly uphill three and a half hour bike ride back to Tukuyu was brutal, it was worth it just to see the mountains and the waterfall!
This week we will start visiting the student farmers – there are 76 of them. We’ve made a fact sheet for them about basic nutrition, housing, parasites, vaccination, etc. that we’ve translated into Swahili with the help of one of our housemates, Lucas. Visiting all of them will give us the opportunity to look at their chickens and their coops and it will give them the opportunity to ask us any questions or concerns they may have. Looking forward to visiting some more farms and sliding down some more mountains!