A Day in the Life — VWB Uganda: Part 2

Text and and photos by Jamie Neufeld, VWB intern and WCVM veterinary student, with Kyla Kotchea, Shauna Thomas, and Veronica Pickens

In this second installment of “A Day in the Life” Jamie Neufeld shares more stories from the Goat Pass-on Project in Uganda.  The biggest day of the year for the project — goat pass-out day — is coming up on July 20th and the Uganda team is looking for donations to help purchase the goats.  If you would like to contribute, look for the link at the bottom of this post. Editor

photo8Unique and her unnamed puppy beside the goat pen in the backyard.

Unique, granddaughter to Akatete chairperson Margaret, is one of he many children who has benefitted from the goat pass-on project. Her family is able to afford school fees and she eats three meals every day. We were able to spend time with Unique when Margaret prepared us a delicious lunch that included matooke, groundnut sauce, posho, rice, chicken stew, pineapple, and watermelon. Outside of school hours, Unique plays soccer and helps tend to the goats and chickens.
Photo caption: Unique and her unnamed puppy beside the goat pen in the backyard.

photo9In Uganda, many schoolchildren share their soccer field with goats that are out grazing for the day. Here, Shauna draws blood from a goat held by Veronica while inquisitive students from Kihwa Primary School watch the action.

So far, we have taken blood samples from over 700 goats in 11 of the 16 communities we hope to visit. We test the blood samples for Brucella abortus and Brucella melitensis. Brucellosis causes abortions in goats, therefore negatively impacting the farmer’s livelihood, and is zoonotic, meaning it can be transferred to people and cause infertility in women. Normally, we would advise vaccinating the animals that test negative and culling the positives. However, due to an East African shortage of the vaccine and additional legality issues with importing it, we are unfortunately unable to vaccinate for Brucellosis this year. Instead, we will emphasize the importance of culling positive animals and continue vaccinating for clostridia.
photo10New WCVM graduate Dr. Kyla Kotchea guides Jane, the paravet for Kikokwa, through the process of drawing blood from a young goat belonging to Kakazi Vangi while Veronica restrains. Vivian holds supplies and young Moses catches me with my camera out.

Each group has a paravet, which is a group member trained to perform basic veterinary services to goat owners for a fee. Having paravet services not only provides a business opportunity for members, but contributes to project sustainability by having a person educated in goat health who is capable of draining abscesses, deworming, castrating, and treating illnesses to keep the herds healthy. Throughout the summer, we involve the paravets as much as we can to develop their skills and solidify their reputation as capable, skilled individuals. When Dr. Claire Card arrives in July, there will be a training day to further educate the paravets and expand their skill set.
photo11The seventh grade class from Kihwa Primary School performing a song that sang:
“Give the children freedom,
Freedom gives the children peace,
Please give the children peace.”

On June 16th we celebrated Day Of The African Child at Kihwa Primary School. It was a beautiful and informative day filled with games, singing, dancing, poetry, acting, and speeches. This holiday celebrates children, how far their rights and education has come, and promotes awareness to the child abuse still occurring in Africa, including kidnapping, child sacrifice, incest, malnutrition, abandonment, and rape. The performances by the children felt especially powerful, as in the western world our elementary school assemblies are often light-hearted and comical, while the second grade Kihwa class recited a poem about protecting the children from child abuse. One part of the poem said, “Stop kidnapping us, stop raping us, and stop hurting us… God made you and God made me, so just let me be me.”
Photo12The start of the 400m girls sprint at Kihwa, which was won by Florence, the girl in the skirt.

Nine times out of ten we come home from the field exhausted and covered head to toe in dust, only to take a short break before entering data, filling out paperwork, or testing blood samples. The days are long but our hearts are full. It has felt surreal to work on an established project and see firsthand how it betters the lives of people, and has been humbling to be so graciously received and welcomed by the community members. Plus, I think we all love goats at least a little bit now, and there may or may not be talk of opening small ruminant practices in the future.
photo13Kids are quickly moving up in the rankings for cutest baby animal, but have yet to outcompete kittens.

photo14We had a lot of fun taking blood from Kakazi Vangi’s goats with Vivian, paravet Jane, and Vangi’s children, Jimmy, Inna, and Moses. In this photo, she was laughing at how we were rocking the kids and singing to them like babies (it was the end of a long, hot, day).

In conclusion, we have seen how two goats plus education about animal care can make the difference between two and three meals a day, having a water tank, being able to afford a solar panel, and paying for school fees. If you have felt inspired by this project like we have, we would like to invite you to purchase a goat, or put money towards one, for the goat pass-out on July 20th. Each goat costs about $60 Canadian, and our goal is to pass our sixty goats this year. If you donate before the pass-out day, you will receive a photo of the beneficiary with your goat, and information about the individual’s household.

100% of the money you donate will go towards purchasing goats:
https://www.vetswithoutborders.ca/uganda-goats-2016

With sincere thanks,
Jamie, Kyla, Veronica, and Shauna