I was fortunate to be able to volunteer with Veterinarians without Borders for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018. The reason I returned for a second placement was because I found the original placement so rewarding. My VWB/VSF placement was in Uganda where I worked with local partner SNV, a Netherlands-based organization on the The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise (TIDE) project. We trained local farmers and artificial insemination (AI) officers to improve breeding and milking practices; additionally we assisted in the development of AI sector business centers. The overarching goal was to increase successful pregnancy rates in cows. It was very gratifying to return to Uganda in 2018 and see the growth of the AI business centers and in the individuals and the farmers that we supported from one year to the next. I know that they truly appreciated working together with our team towards solutions.
Not only was the work extremely rewarding but the friendships and connections I have made in Uganda are ones that have touched me so deeply. I also strongly believe it is so important to work TOGETHER with community members to find solutions and to empower those we work with instead of trying to do everything on our own in a top-down approach. Through collaborative training, community members use their increased capacities to implement long lasting changes within their communities. It is through their strength and perseverance that VWB/VSF programs are sustainable and successful. They are the true heroes on the ground and I feel blessed to call many of them my friends.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that staying connected with our local partners is especially important. It is so critical that we continue to support each other through these difficult circumstances. By partnering with the local people, it not only allows for sustainable change but it also ensures that they have our support in overcoming challenges that arise during these tough times. I am so grateful to have had the chance to volunteer my time with Veterinarians without Borders. These volunteer placements were life changing experiences. The most rewarding part of my placements was helping others and seeing the many lives that are impacted along the way.