These past two weeks have been amazing. Almost every day we have been out in the communities doing vaccination days with the paravets. As we go from house to house we check on the people’s goats and pigs, vaccinate and deworm the goats, and ensure that the beneficiaries use the paravet for regular check-ups. Although most paravets get paid, we have found that some community members delay in their payment or do not pay the paravet at all. One of the reasons for this is that in much of Uganda, the people live very much day to day with their finances. For instance, our ‘special hire’ (aka: taxi) driver gets the smallest amount of gas possible every single morning and most people buy miniscule amounts of airtime for their cell phones and end up purchasing it almost every day. Also, savings do not really exist for most people here, and if somebody has extra cash on hand they have been known to tell their neighbor to dig a hole and hide the savings in the matooke plantation so it could not be spent until they needed it. It is for these reasons that we get unlucky some days with households having no money available for vaccination or deworming. To help change this pattern, we have been quite cut and dry and we would not treat any animals unless we received payment first. The paravets, for example Supertrainer Janet and paravet Namusisi, were very pleased with this rule.
On one of our house visits, Tara noticed that one of the goats was walking with a limp. After vaccinating it, Ilse and I thought we would check its front legs just to see if we could see what was wrong. Not expecting to find anything we started palpating the joints and looking for anything out of the ordinary. I noticed a little stick stuck to one of its hooves and tried to pull on it but it was pretty stuck. After giving it a bit of a wiggle and a stronger tug, a two-inch acacia tree thorn came out! Poor goat had a massive sliver. We just hope that the hole has closed up and the goat can walk normally now.
We have also been attending the last of the community meetings which have been going very well. In addition to answering any questions the beneficiaries may have, we created a small lesson which we discuss that highlights seven steps to good goat management. In short they are: providing fresh water, feeding fresh and varied food, maintaining good hygiene, building strong and clean goat pens, vaccinating, deworming, and spraying for ticks. We remind them of these important aspects at the end of each meeting, complete with one of our translators quizzing them to ensure the women understood each step.
Dr. Card arrived on Saturday which was awesome! She has joined us in the field and has been teaching us more about eye problems, body condition scoring, and several conditions that could be differentials for certain clinical signs. Adam from the ‘Students for Development’ group has also joined us for the week to help us in the field which has been great. This past Sunday we had a dinner party for one of the FAOC interns named Shafiq. He works with us as a translator and he has been an incredible addition to the project this summer. He requested a strawberry cake and as luck would have it, we somehow found a cake mix here to make it for him! We also had fresh baked cookies and a delicious dinner courtesy of Dr. Card and a few of us helping. It was quite a Canadian birthday and I think it was fun for him to hear our birthday song and eat cookies and cake. Another intern named Tom and their friend Brenda joined us as well. It was a great night!
We have a busy week ahead of us as we will be doing our five day paravet training session, as well as our goat pass out at the end of the week. As of now we have purchased most of the materials for the paravet kits we will be handing out so this weekend will be spent tying up the loose ends and planning our lessons for each day. We also have goat records to type up and pictures to print for each community. I can’t believe there is only 10 days left of the project! Time has flown by. I will write again soon with an update on next week.