Jaime and Mary-Claire’s last post from Uganda

Here we are – our last blog post of the summer. Tempus fugit.

We said goodbye to Drs. Card and Perdrizet on July 21 and to our Global Vets teammates Jen, Elyse, Megan, Feh and WCVM first year student Sarah on July 22. We felt so lucky to be joined by such passionate individuals, and we recognize just how much we were able to accomplish with everyone’s hard work. Thank you ladies for your great help and companionship!

The departure of 7 team members left Mary-Claire and Jaimee as the lone Canadians on the project for the first time, with much work still to do. In the few weeks we had left in Mbarara, we continued vaccinations and blood tests for brucellosis, wrote our final report and found a little time to do some traveling.

Factors that lead to genocide.Picture 2

 Factors that lead to life.Picture 2

We took the bus to Kigali, capital city of Rwanda, and visited some of the memorials for the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. It was hard to believe that this tiny country – which felt more like Europe than Africa in some respects – was in a state of complete devastation only 20 years ago.

Kigali Barracks – now a school – where 10 UN soldiers from Belgium lost their lives on April 7, 1994, the first day of the genocide.Picture 3

Ntarama Church Genocide Memorial. Thousands of Tutsis gathered at this church to seek refuge from the genocidaires. They were massacred here on April 15, 1994.Grenades thrown by the militia made large holes in the walls.Picture 4

This visit was an emotional experience for the both of us. Kigali is a fascinating city and the Rwandan countryside very beautiful. We would recommend that anyone thinking of visiting Africa make a stop in Rwanda, learn about its history and consider how far this East African country has progressed. It was an inspiring trip.

We also made a weekend trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park to visit with Dr. Ludwig Siefert, a wildlife veterinarian working on carnivore conservation. He and his associate James took us out to track the wild lions, and taught us about the cultural circumstances that surround their work.

Jaimee and Kenneth – a local tribesman and our hiking guide – atop a large rock we christened “Pride Rock”. We hope the name will stick.Picture 5

Mary-Claire and Kenneth checking out the horns of a beautiful Ankole cow.Picture 6

Conservation work in the park often clashes with human interests, such as the competition for territory between the wild species of the park and the livestock of the people living there. Large carnivores are sometimes driven to attack cattle herds due to declines in their natural prey species, and this leads to financial losses for the people. Many farmers have been driven to poison the lions and leopards of the park in retaliation. Dr. Siefert and James have developed partnerships with the indigenous communities to create solutions that benefit the people and the wildlife. This approach has met with success, and they continue to work hard to protect these amazing creatures.

 Sharon’s pride. Sharon, fourth from the left, is the matriarch of this group and wears a radio collar which allows Dr. Siefert and James to track her.Picture 7

Papa, one of the breeding males in Queen Elizabeth National Park. He also wears a radio collar and has arguably the most handsome mane in the park.Picture 8

 Many thanks to Dr. Ludwig Siefert.Picture 9

Upon reflection, the goat pass-on project was about a lot of things. It was about goats; curious, adaptable and lovely creatures that they are. It was about women and their struggle to raise children in an oppressive culture. Most importantly for us, it was a study in how one can make change in the world. There were countless times when we wanted to pull out our magic wands, wave them about and grant people the better lives we imagined for them. In the absence of this option, we discovered that the world our beneficiaries live in is only going to change for the better is if they are able to change it for themselves. Development work as we know it is a slow process, but we hope that we were able – in some small way – to help our beneficiaries on their path to a better future.

After 12 weeks in the Pearl of Africa, this place has left its mark on our minds and in our hearts. We learned so much from our time here, and are so grateful for the opportunities and friendships we’ve been afforded. While we are both excited to return to Canada, meet with our friends and families and enjoy a hot cup of Timmies, we will greatly miss our Ugandan family and we hope to return to them someday soon.

Jaimee, Shafiq, Mary-Claire and Vivian on our last day together.Picture 10

Webale munonga munonga! Tugende!