Uganda Field Report from Summer Veterinary Students: Mary-Claire and Jaimee

What a great two weeks we’ve had!

The dynamic duo of Dr. Laura and the fabulous Danielle sadly had to leave us at the end May to return to Canada. We learned so much from them both and will sorely miss their inspiring and entertaining presence. Feel free to come back to us any time, ladies.

While we may have lost a couple of great travel buddies, we gained many more soon after! Allow us to introduce our new group members from Global Vets: Jennifer Hay, Megan Jurasek, Arefeh (Feh) Ravanbakhsh and Elyse Salpeter. They will be with us until July 24, and we are thrilled to have them on board.

Jen, Elyse, Megan, Jaimee and I spent the first week of June on safari throughout Uganda. We witnessed the incredible natural beauty of this country. Savannah abundant with elephants, giraffe and Uganda kob gives way to sweeping tea plantations. The misty Mountains of the Moon overlook the mysterious Bwindi jungle, where you might spy a giant silverback gorilla peering at you from under the leaves. The mighty Nile – which begins its trek in Lake Victoria – meanders through the country and provides habitat for creatures great and small, including hippopotami, crocodiles and beautiful birds.

It was an incredible experience. Much thanks goes to our fearless leader and driver Silas. Lion tracker, master card player of Ugandan Crazy 8s, and always got us where we needed to go in record time. Couldn’t have asked for a better guide!

After the safari, Jaimee and I returned to Entebbe to retrieve Feh, the last member of our group. With a helpful shortcut from Silas, we were able to avoid the terrifying traffic of Kampala and made our way back to Mbarara without a hitch. No speeding tickets for us!

This past week has found us all hard at work on the project. With the help of dedicated FAOC staff Vivian, Joseph and Shafiq, we were able to do many visits to the houses of beneficiaries and attend community meetings in Nyamuyanji, Birere and Rweiziringiro. We are gradually gaining a better understanding of the struggles that our beneficiaries face, and we have been constantly brainstorming the best way to offer our help to them this summer.

With less than two months left, we certainly have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, we have a great team at FAOC to keep us on track. One lady in particular has already proven to be absolutely essential to our project, and I would like to take a little time to tell you about her.

As we were talking to people who had previously come to Uganda for this project, Vivian Namale (programs administrator at FAOC) was a name that came up a lot. In every description we were given of her, “sweetest person I’ve ever met” was a common theme, and it was not long after we met her that we understood why. She has a smile to brighten any day, a giggle to lighten any mood and a work ethic that keeps us moving forward. As our primary translator and coordinator with all the different communities in the project, very little of our work would be accomplished without her dedicated involvement. She has a great love of children, and aspires to open a Babies Home for orphaned infants one day. In addition to all her hard work, she is always surprising us with her many talents, from singing to jump-roping to some pretty impressive dance moves (“Vivian, did you just twerk?”). Simply put, if the world was full of Vivians, it would be a lovely place indeed. Thank you Vivian, for all that you do!