It’s hard to believe that our time on the project is quickly coming to an end! This past week was one of our busiest. We held 5 days of training new paravets and managed to squeeze in our second goat pass out ceremony and paravet graduation on the same day.
Most of the paravet training was carried out by the supertrainers Janet and Saphina. We had a very eager group of community members ready to learn about goats and pigs and get some hands on experience. As part of the training, we explained to them the importance of having a good goat pen, including a demonstration of a small scale model of the pen complete with a goat figurine inside. On a few occasions this week, we’ve had to carry this diorama around with us. We didn’t understand why, but people would stop and stare at us while we carried it around, cars would even slow down and almost stop to look! (Although we are quite used to standing out in a crowd at this point, this was a bit extreme!) I even had a man come out of a crowd and touch the pen while I was walking with it. We had no idea why this model was attracting so much attention; did they never make models or play will makeshift dollhouses as children? We realized what all the fuss was about when a man yelled out: “Madam, madam! Is that witchcraft?!” In a country where many people still use traditional healers we could understand everyone’s interest in it. Once we explained that it was used for teaching purposes people seemed to understand why a muzungu would be carrying such an item.
The rest of the training went off without a hitch and the paravets seemed to get a lot out of it and we know that they will be of great benefit to their communities. While the training was going on, we also had the task of finding, brucella testing, and purchasing goats. We managed to find 46 goats for the pass-out ceremony and had the new paravets do all the treatments and processing. (Tara and I even got to herd goats to the FAOC demonstration farm, with minor objection from some of the goats!). They were very excited to practice their new skills and became more confident with every goat. Once the goats were processed, we had the paravet graduation ceremony, followed by the goat pass-out. It was a very full day! (Did I mention that there was also a goat kidding in the background while all this was going on?)
It was both a happy and a sad day for us, as it was one of our last out in the field. We’ve really gotten to know a lot of the beneficiaries and see them come a long was this summer towards improving their households. One of these beneficiaries I got to know is Carolina. She benefitted one goat at a previous pass-out but has never built a pen so has not been loaned another. She is an elderly grandmother who has young grandchildren to take care of and send to school. She has been having difficulties paying school fees and lacks the money needed to put up a pen. Later on in the summer, we suggested that she, with her neighbour who is also a beneficiary, put up a pen together by borrowing money from the revolving fund. They thought that this was a feasible idea and agreed to get a pen ready for the next pass-out. We were passing through their community and I decided to stop in to see how the pen construction was going since the pass-out day was quickly approaching. I was disappointed to see that they had not even started building and that I had to tell them that they had to be removed from the list as they did not have a pen in place. This must have given them the push they needed, and a few days later, the frame of a pen was up! They were very proud what they had managed to do together and were excited to show me and have their picture taken. I’m happy to say that both Carolina and her neighbour Rovina got to receive goats yesterday! We have many great stories of the wonderful people we met and got to work with and I’m sure that we will miss them and hope that they continue to move forward.