Life on the project has continued to be busy with field work and pulling blood, running tests, and many community meetings. In the previous blog, we mentioned going to Queen Elizabeth National Park to visit Dr. Seifert and assess some new communities wanting to start their own goat projects. To start, they are planning on implementing the project in three different communities: one in the mountains, one that has issues with elephants eating their goat forage, and lastly, one community that has issues with lions eating their goats. These are all problems that do not occur in any of our current communities in Insingiro.
Mondays have become our at-home “office day” as it’s market day for most of the region so no one is usually at home for us to pull blood and do vaccinations. Since our visit in QE park we have been using office days and some evenings to get ready for the big Pioneer Training for the QE community people. A lot of the material for the trainees was completely new for us as VWB doesn’t typically train new groups; FAOC takes care of that. Each of the three communities was sending three selected members to learn all basics of the goat project so they could go back and mobilize their communities to start the prep work to eventually receive goats.
After busy days writing training manuals, making posters, booking chairs and speakers and ensuring there would be enough food prepared for everyone we arrived bright and early on training day… and about two hours after the training was supposed to start, all the trainees rolled in. African time, man.
We didn’t know what to expect from the trainees as they come from completely different backgrounds than the groups we’re used to. We work almost exclusively with women, most of which are widows, whereas all but one of the QE trainees were men. The QE communities are also slightly less impoverished than those in Insingiro, so we’re hoping to have less of a struggle getting members to pay for vaccines and treatments for their animals. Considering none of us really knew what we were doing with the training and most of it was really rushed, it went shockingly well, and was actually a lot of fun! The trainees were very engaged the entire time, asking a lot of good questions and seemed to understand and accept the information we gave them. Each of us gave separate presentations and we had three of our paravets, Joseph, Ibrahim and Janet talk about their success with the goat project. We focused on how each group should run, the business model of the project, and lastly some basic husbandry rules for keeping goats alive and healthy. Since we are starting from scratch with these groups, we’re hoping we can learn from past mistakes in Insingiro and have these groups become very strong and successful with less pitfalls. Another bonus is that these groups have been pastoralists for generations so they have a longer history and deeper understanding of some basics of raising livestock.
Following all our presentations another paravet of ours, Margaret, made a huge feast of traditional food for everyone. After lunch we took the group to Joseph’s home to show them what a model goat pen should look like. To be honest, while Joseph does have a near model pen, he doesn’t zero graze like we tell people, but he’s a great paravet so he knows how to take care of his animals and they live just fine. However, we wanted the community people to think he followed all our instructions so we stalled the trainees by quizzing them for a few minutes to give Joseph time to collect the goats from grazing in the field and put fresh Napier in the trough. We made it just in time and the group was very impressed by how great his pen looked! We have high hopes for these communities and if they can keep up the momentum and enthusiasm for the project they can take it really far!
~ Sarah, Brittany and Lena
All the trainees and speakers at the Pioneer training:
Lena explaining how keeping goats alive will turn a profit:
Sarah teaching basic goat husbandry: