Uganda Paravet Refresher Course

What a busy few weeks we’ve had! July has certainly kept us on our toes. In addition to our regular house monitoring and vaccination days, we held two major events.

The paravet group.Picture 1

On July 17, we held a Paravet Refresher Training Course for 21 paravets from 15 communities.  We covered important issues in pig, cow and goat husbandry, as well as a demonstration of brucella testing. Finally, we gave our paravets some hands-on experience vaccinating, ear-tagging, tick-spraying, deworming and physically examining a small herd of goats. The paravets were enthusiastic and inspiring participants – it was like being in a classroom full of keen veterinary students! We all had a lot of fun.

MC, Sarah and Shafiq presenting the pig tapeworm lifecycle to our paravets.Picture 2

Offloading our goats from the truck. The paravets helped prepare them for the next day’s pass out!Picture 3

A goat receiving the clostridial vaccine. We also see how heavy the tick burden can be on goats when they are not treated for ticks. Under the eye is an example of an engorged tick.Picture 4

The conjunctival Brucella melitensis vaccine being given.Picture 5

The following day, July 18, we held a Goat Pass-Out Ceremony for our newest beneficiaries. All of our scrambling to find goats to buy, test them for brucellosis, figure out the logistics of permits and transport, and prepare the goats for distribution (i.e. vaccinations, abscess treatment, etc.) finally came to fruition. We passed out 24 goats to 13 new beneficiaries from the communities of Birere 2, Kikokwa, Rweiziringiro and Kishuro. In order to receive a goat, these beneficiaries had to build a goat pen and demonstrate a willingness to take proper care of their goats. We emphasized that each goat received is a loan, not a hand-out. Once the goat reproduces, the beneficiary is able to pay back the loan to the community by donating one kid to the group. After that, the beneficiary is free to use their goat to build up a herd and create a viable business. We hope that these new beneficiaries will take that advice to heart and create a sustainable income for their families, as other beneficiaries have done before them.

Pastor Joseph, a paravet from Birere was so excited to be receiving his goats. We have high hopes for him to continue to be a role model in his community.Picture 6

Sarah was all smiles as she brought forward a stubborn goat.Picture 7

Happy to be receiving her goats!Picture 8

 A family is welcoming her new goats!Picture 9

Neither of these special days would have been possible without the help of Dr. Claire Card, who joined us between July 4 and July 21. She has been an inspiration to us budding veterinary students, from her wealth of veterinary knowledge to her deep compassion for our beneficiaries. She is quite the runner too! We’ve been very grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from her.

Picture 10 – Dr. Claire and Mauricia, a long-time friend of Veterinarians Without Borders.Picture 10 

While we have met with success this month, we have also been dealt some hard blows. One of the most difficult was when we learned that 6 young girls (most around 14 years old) from the Nyamuyanja community were sexually defiled by men in their village. Some of the girls are now pregnant as a result. Only a few weeks ago we visited Nyamuyanja and were inspired by the great success they have had with our project, having passed-on 50 goats within the community. Now Nyamuyanja is struggling to address what happened to its girls, with limited resources and political will to bring the rapists to justice. This terrible story reminded us of why we came to Uganda. The rights of a Ugandan woman and the way she is treated in Ugandan culture are often inadequate, unjust and abusive. We work with women in rural Uganda not only to provide their families with a better income, but also to foster a spirit of empowerment. An empowered woman has more options, more confidence, and is in a much better position to demand better for herself and her children. If enough women stood up, spoke and were heard in this country, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Our hope is that someday they will make the atrocity of what happened in Nyamuyanja a memory from an outrageous past.

Jaimee with the school children during our visit to Nyamuyanja with Carol and the FAOC SCORE (Sustainable Comprehensive Responses for Vulnerable Children) project.

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The school children showing off their future ambitions. Many aspired to be teachers, police officers, or members of the church. Sadly, no one wanted to be a veterinarian…yet!Picture 12

Despite the actions of some of the men in Nyamuyanja, we have come across several respectful, forward-thinking men who want positive change for women in their country. Shafiq – our third translator – most definitely falls into that category.

Shafiq, looking dapper at the Paravet Refresher Training Day.Picture 13

Shafiq is a young man of 22 years who just completed a university degree in international development. He hails from the trading-post town of Kaberebere, and lives just down the road from Paravet Joseph Ahimbisibwe. He has been working part-time for us as a translator for the past couple of years, and knows the ins-and-outs of the project better than we do. He is an engaging public speaker and very good at conveying our words to the beneficiaries in relatable way. He has aspirations to study abroad, and we hope that someday he will be able to join us in Canada to further his studies. Shafiq has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and we will miss his sense of humour and genuine friendliness. Thank you for all your hard work Shafiq, and best of luck to you as you make your way in the world!

The whole team at Shafiq’s birthday party. L – R: Jaimee, Vivian, Dr. Ursula, Jen, Mauricia, Megan, Shafiq, MC, Elyse, Feh, Sarah, Joseph. Picture 14