Unique Ideas from Tanzania

You know how the saying goes “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” Well in Tanzania if you teach a man to fish not only will he master it, but he will also find new and innovative ways of improving his craft. We’d love to share with you some of the unique ideas coming from some innovative people that we’ve had the chance to work with over the past two months.
Let’s start with something that is near and dear to both Cheyenne and Angie’s hearts, wildlife preservation. Over the years, human-wildlife conflict has drastically decreased wildlife population in Africa, especially in the Rungwe region. Farming lands has resulted in encroachment on wildlife habitats which increased human-wildlife conflict. For example more monkeys steal farmers’ crops. While visiting Mbeya we met Sylvanos Kimiti, who informed us that the Wildlife Conservation Society of Southern Tanzania has been working to resolve monkey-human conflict in a very innovative way: chili dung. That’s right, by mixing chili peppers and cow dung, and then smearing it over their crops monkeys are deterred from eating farmer crops. Less crop loss means a happy farmer and a safer monkey.

DSC01977Yellow baboons, like this one, are just one of the many species of monkeys who can live to close to farmlands and steal farmers’ crops. Along with the chili-dung method farmers can also plant garlic or avocados. Both of these are alternative crops that monkeys don’t like to eat.

Sticking to the topic of crops, we have had the privilege of ‘training the trainers’ about the “Millenials” favorite food, the glorious avocado, locally known as the parachichi. Avocados take 3 years to mature from seedling into a fruit bearing tree. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that young tree gets appropriate care, including weeding at least 2x a month. To help reduce weed overgrowth, Tanzanian farmers have also discovered that they can plant short season crops such as beans in between their trees. This helps reduce the need to weed and acts as an excellent source of food.

19867021_10211904882272798_1341041089_oAngie teaching at Iponjola village and discussing the benefit of plant beans (maharage) in between lines of avocado trees to prevent weed overgrowth as well as provide extra nutrient to soil. As you can see Cheyenne and Angie added their own flair to the avocado lesson with hand drawn visuals to keep the farmers engaged.

Next on our list is the most innovative of them all: the chicken farmer. Aside from disease prevention, management, and nutrition, we also teach farmers about proper housing for their chickens. We are always amazed at how creative they get with the materials they have available. When visiting Mpunga village we were amazed to see a chick brooder complete with lights to keep the chicks warm. Frequent power outages can be a big problem in rural Tanzania but don’t worry this farmer has it covered, he also has a backup clay pot that can be filled with charcoal to provide extra heat. The difference this makes? Zero chick mortality from this flock.

19885718_10211904805910889_802183513_oNo cold chicks here. The chairman for the most vulnerable children committee has been attending all of Africa Bridge’s training sessions and used this information to go above and beyond in his brooder, complete with heat emitting lights as well as a backup heat source (the charcoal filled clay pot in the corner).


We also cannot help but notice innovation even during our days off. Whilst in Iringa for a Safari we had the privilege of getting to know the staff and story of Neema Crafts. Neema is a local organization working to change the way society views those with disabilities. Employing over 100 workers, all with disabilities, Neema had an especially innovative start in 2003 when they started making elephant dung paper.  That’s right, by drying, dying and flattening elephant dung Neema has made beautiful paper that can be used for everything from post cards to journal covers.

19885717_10154633880792483_1956376470_oHere we see Raheri, who is working on making boxes which will later be covered in the dung paper. The different sheets of paper can be seen behind her to the right. The sheets can be dyed different colours and used for a variety of products.

19850972_10154633886087483_755943539_oOne of the beautiful elephants Angie and Cheyenne got to see on their Safari to Ruaha. All of Neema’s elephant dung is sourced from Ruaha national park. It is collected by volunteers, dried and then brought into the workshop.

Since coming to Tanzania we have spent a lot of time training farmers in livestock and crop management.  However, as much as we have been acting as teachers, we have also learned a lot.  We hope that through sharing these stories you also see that when faced with a challenge, Tanzanians will change it into an opportunity.

A week in Salaga, Ghana

We’ve had an absolutely wonderful last week of work in Salaga. We spent four mornings helping the Salaga veterinary officers, alongside several other veterinary students, quarantine and process 300 sheep for one of their animal distribution programs.


This was our first time working with sheep in a veterinary capacity and we were able to learn lots from our fellow veterinary officers and students, including sheep handling techniques and some treatments for local diseases.


Over the span of a week we ear tagged the sheep for identification purposes, treated and monitored any sick sheep and vaccinated the herd for Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), which is a common viral disease in the area. We were also able to tag along and help with the sheep distribution in one of the communities. It was great to see all the smiling faces as people received their new sheep.

In addition to the excitement of working with the sheep, we were also fortunate to be invited to the wedding reception of one of our coworkers, Taaha. Our local seamstress made sure that we each had a beautiful Ghanaian style dress to wear for the occasion. This was a good thing because we were asked to get up and dance for the newlyweds in front of everyone! It is a common practice that the wedding guests dance for the newly married couple, and if you like the dancing you are supposed to throw money over the dancers heads, which is then collected for the bride and groom. We had a lovely afternoon learning more about Ghanaian culture.



As we prepare to head back to Canada we would like to extend a HUGE thank you to all the amazing staff we have encountered at SEND-GHANA. They have taught us so much over the past three months and have made our time here memorable and fun. We will miss them all tremendously!
And thank you, readers, for taking the time to follow these posts. We hope that you have enjoyed following along and that you learned something about Ghana and international development.


Whirlwind summer in Kenya!

After a whirlwind summer in Kenya, the time has come for our final blog post. As our time here draws to a close, we want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our Kenyan family, without whom this project would not have been possible. Each member of our team has been essential in helping us reach our goals. We are so grateful to them for welcoming us into a new country with open arms.photo1(placeafterintroparagraph)
With their help we have worked directly with over 500 farmers and taught over 40 seminars. A total of 54% of the farmers we worked with were women. We were able to increase our impact this year by visiting more farms than in previous years to provide one-on-one training. This allowed us to teach farmers not only about the importance of raising calves, but also about feeding a milking cow, construction of an appropriate place for cows to rest, milking hygiene, and much more. By working one-on-one with farmers we ensured their individual needs were met to set them up to succeed.
To ensure our project was sustainable, we also taught 20 staff members at the Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy Ltd. about the best ways to raise a calf and take care of a dairy cow. These training sessions were based on years of past research proven to be useful in this region. This group of staff is responsible for training dairy farmers, so countless more farmers will learn about how to dairy farm more sustainably to ensure improved livelihoods.
We also visited 5 schools and taught 360 primary aged children about Rabies prevention, how to avoid dog bites, staying safe around farm animals, and how to ensure you don’t catch a disease from an animal. These students go home and teach their siblings and parents about this information, creating an even larger impact on the community surrounding staying safe around animals.
These are just some of the large impacts our work had this summer in Mukurwe-ini, but as we previously mentioned, none of this would be possible without our Kenyan family. Therefore, to end off our summer, we would like finish this blog by sharing some details about our great team that we had the pleasure of working with every day.
Ruth Wathiha provided us with laundry services to ensure we had clean clothes every day for working on the farms. Without her help, it would have been very difficult for us to maintain good biosecurity practices while working with the livestock here. Ruth is from the Mukurwe-ini region of Kenya and lives with her grandma, husband, and three year old son, Travis. Ruth has been working with Veterinarians without Borders since 2010. In addition to her small laundry business, she is a well-established entrepreneur, operating a fruit stand in Ichamara as well as a flour, sugar, and fat shop in Kimondo. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys listening to music and playing with Travis. Ruth loves working in the Ichamara region of Kenya because of its pleasant climate and peaceful atmosphere.

Samuel Karanja, our very talented chef, was inspired at a young age by his uncle who was a successful chef at fancy hotels in the Nairobi area. Samuel completed his secondary education in Nanyuki and attended Nyeri Technical Institute for 2 years for his culinary training. He has been working with VWB/VSF for the last 3 years. Although he faces challenges such as limited availability of ingredients in Mukurwe-ini and less than favorable cooking conditions, his ingenuity pays off with his delicious meals and the well-deserved compliments he receives. He loves his childhood home of Nanyuki and credits his mother’s guidance for his successes. Samuel’s goal is to work abroad in Canada for a few years and ultimately return to Kenya to build a fancy restaurant of his own in Nanyuki. In his spare time, Samuel likes to watch movies and the cooking channel, listen to music, go swimming, and make new friends. Aside from his cooking skills, he has given us invaluable insight into understanding Kenyan life, and has become a great friend.

Priscilla Muthoni was our enthusiastic translator who has been working with VWB/VSF since 2012. She speaks 3 languages – English, Swahili, and Kikuyu. Kikuyu is her native tongue, which helps us to connect with the local people. She was born in the Mukurwe-ini region and grew up on a dairy farm. Of her many chores on the farm, milking cows was her favorite, and this cultivated an interest in the dairy industry. She completed her post-secondary education at the Dairy Technical Institute in Naivasha and then worked as a laboratory technician doing quality control at local dairies. She is well versed in dairy cow care and Kenyan farming practices, providing background knowledge and a Kenyan perspective to each situation we encounter. Her favourite part of the job is helping to make a difference in the dairy farmers’ lives. In her spare time, Priscilla enjoys going out with her husband and 3 children to volunteer with the less fortunate. Priscilla was a vital part of our team, especially in connecting and building relationships with the farmers we teach. Every day with Priscilla was a delight as she is so personable, funny, and easygoing.

photo4(placeafterPRISparagraph) (002)
Ephraim Mutahi was our very impressive driver. Amidst the bustling pedestrian and vehicle traffic, he was successful in getting us where we needed to be quickly and efficiently, and his faithful car Shira always made it up the most intimidating hills. He has been working for VWB/VSF since 2013 and really enjoys the opportunity to be a private driver because it’s dependable employment. He has worked as a matatu (local bus) driver in busy Nairobi, but prefers the more peaceful life of Mukurwe-ini. He says his biggest challenge as a driver is competing with the many other drivers in the area for customers, but it is worth it because his job allows him to provide for and work close to his family. Ephraim is a pastor and a father of 3, often providing us with daily wisdom and cheesy dad jokes. He loves spending time with family, volunteering on the school board, and taking time to bathe his cow, Maggie. He says, “When you have a big heart, you always have time to do more.” Ephraim feels lucky to have been born in Kenya because the country is free and the landscapes are beautiful. Our daily drives with Ephraim were always an adventure, and we looked forward to his exciting wardrobe choices.

In addition to the team we worked with daily, we would like to thank Gerald Kariuki for coordinating our partnership with the Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy Ltd. as well as the local community. He has been a valued liaison for VWB/VSF for many years and we are all very appreciative of his efforts. We also appreciate the following individuals for their many contributions to our work:
Extension staff from the MWDL – Charles, Elias, James, Eunice, Jeremiah
Veterinarians from the MWDL – Patrick and Ayub
The administrative, lab and management staff at the MWDL.
Henry and the staff at Sportsmen’s Safaris in Nairobi who supported us during this project.
We would like to thank our wonderful supervisor Dr. Shauna Richards for her knowledge and guidance throughout our placement, Veterinarians without Borders Canada for their sponsorship of this project, Farmers Helping Farmers for their continued collaboration, and the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre for their generous financial contribution. Last but not least we want to extend a special thank you to everyone back home who donated their time, services, money and encouragement for us to be here. None of this work would be possible without you!

photo6(placeafterthanksparagraph)Our team with friends and family in Mukurwe-ini at our Canada Day celebration

This project is supported by VWB/VSF Canada with funding from Global Affairs Canada.
#KenyaBelieveIt #Dairyfarming #Cowsforlife #Vetsinthemaking #VetsWithoutBordersCanada #FarmersHelpingFarmers #Drinkmilk #TeamPotato

Working with girls in Uganda

Part of VWB’s work in Uganda is to promote gender equality through female empowerment. In the picture below Dr. Laura McDonald poses in front of the hundreds of bras which she collected with the help of her friends in Canada. Some of these bras were given to young school girls as a thank you for attending a Women’s Empowerment Day which our team hosted.

Laura BrasSchoolAbove is the outside of one of the classrooms at Kihwa Primary School, the first location where the Empowerment Day was held.  We also followed up on last years “Pad’s Project” started by Sarah Zelinski which teaches girls to make their own reusable sanitary pads so they can continue attending class when they are menstruating.

The inside of school classrooms usually consist of attached benches/desks and a chalk board at the front of the classroom.  The students must bring their own pencil and notebook and take these items with them at the end of the day.  Here (below) we are teaching the girls about the importance of sexual health with the help of Vivian Namale (in yellow) who works tirelessly as our community liaison to organize and facilitate our community visits.

TeachingAfter spending the day with the girls it was most rewarding to see all of the smiles on their faces and to feel the appreciation that they have for our visits.  This picture truly captures the beauty and resilience of the young women in Uganda.

Two GirlsFinally our team poses for a photo with the headmaster and teacher of Kihwa school as we exchange our thank-yous and goodbyes.  This day has been a life changing experience for us and we leave the school with our hearts full.


From Uganda…

One of the highlights of our trip has been getting to know the team of technicians who work with SNV on the artificial insemination program.  The above picture was taken after a meeting that was held where we had the pleasure to meet the whole team.  These technicians were selected to be part of the program because of their strong work ethic and desire to improve their own business. 

AI meeting

We join the technicians during their service calls to the farm where we observe various practices that they perform for the farmers including, artificial insemination, synchronization, and pregnancy diagnosis.  In the above picture a technician, Mutemba Lawrence (seen in the photo below) assisted us with a pregnancy diagnosis on farm.

Hollyn CowNikki Cow

tree meetingHere we are having tea with farm owner Kekuruso Elly (seen in the yellow hat) after servicing his cattle with Mutemba Lawrence who is seen behind the tree.   Our coworker Olivia Tumukunde joined us on this farm call and is seen in the center of the photo. It is tradition to take tea or share food together with visitors as a sign of appreciation.  We always enjoy these gatherings because it gives us a chance to get to know the people we are working with.




Our team supervisor Dr. Shauna Richards has arrived! Shauna is a veterinarian from Nova Scotia who just finished her PhD at UPEI. Her PhD is based on data collected on rearing dairy cows in central Kenya, so we are excited to utilize her research findings and learn from her many experiences here in Kenya. With her guidance, we have started the teaching phase of our project for the summer: educating farmers about calf care. Each day, a different community member hosts us on their farm to teach a seminar. They each invite 10-15 neighbouring farmers to attend and learn. Our seminars focus on calf nutrition, housing, management and disease prevention practices as well as mastitis prevention and body condition scoring for cows. After the seminar, we offer to visit the attendees’ farms and provide specific advice on how to best improve their farms for both their calves and cows. At some farms, we are able to assist with minor reconstruction of housing. Each farm poses a unique set of challenges for us to assess and for the farmer to overcome.

Margaret Njoki is one of the members of the Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy Ltd. She is 32 years old and a mother of two. Since Margaret has been very diligent in utilizing the advice she received from last year’s VWB team to make substantial improvements to her barn and stall for her one cow, Njata, we wanted to highlight her farm and the effort she has put into it. Margaret started farming two years ago to help provide income for her family. She is the main caretaker for Njata and was recently been able to purchase a bull. Margaret’s farm was not immune to this year’s drought, but she has seen an increase in milk production and a decrease in mastitis in her cow as a result of last year’s training. Over the past year, Margaret has seen an improvement in her cow’s health and she feels much more confident in feeding and deworming Njata properly. When we asked Margaret for the best advice she could give to youth interested in dairy farming, she suggested planning ahead, budgeting, and investing in the cow now so it will pay off later. We were delighted to hear Margaret’s suggestions, as they support many of the key concepts we are teaching in our seminars.

Aside from our veterinary work, our time here has allowed us to learn about other aspects of life in Kenya. Another Canadian organization working in Kenya, Farmers Helping Farmers, is affiliated with Days For Girls, an Ontario-based non-profit that provides reusable feminine hygiene products to girls in developing nations. We were able to attend a school visit with Farmers Helping Farmers volunteers to promote the value of women and dispel myths surrounding menstruation and hygiene.We distributed kits containing reusable pads and taught the girls how to use and care for them properly. These reusable kits will prevent girls from having to miss school and other opportunities while having their periods. Feminine hygiene products are often not readily available, especially in rural areas, so we are hopeful that these kits will be useful for the girls.

Shortly before Shauna arrived, we were able to go on a safari in Amboseli National Park. This park is located in southeastern Kenya, near its border with Tanzania. It is known for its spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro and its elephant population of around 1000. We enjoyed seeing a wide array of Kenyan wildlife, as well as the different landscapes across the country. During our trip, we were also able to visit a Maasai village and learn about their way of life as well as their cattle rearing practices which differ greatly from those in the Mukurwe-ini area, where we have been learning and working.

Although we have much more to say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out the photos below!

This project is supported by VWB-Canada with Global Affairs Canada funding.

#KenyaBelieveIt #HakunaMatata #VWB #CowsForLife #VetsInTheMaking

photo1 - Copy (2)Visiting the dairy with our supervisor Dr. Shauna Richards (photo centre right).

photo2 - Copy (2)Our happy but hot team after our successful first day of teaching the calf seminar on our own!

photo3 small- CopyAlina working with our translator, Priscilla, to teach a small group of farmers the importance of navel care for calves.

photo4 - CopyKelly helping Shauna as she explains teaming up to Theresa Wairimu, one of our new farmers, in preparation for calving. Steaming up is when increased amounts of concentrate and forage are fed in the weeks leading up to calving in order to increase peak milk production. On weekends, when the neighbourhood kids are not in school, they love the excitement of new visitors!

photo5Margaret Njoki (left) is talking with Megan and Alina about why she started dairy farming.

photo6 Margaret started farming so that she could contribute more to the family income and provide more for her two young children.

photo7Megan helping to distribute the colorful Days for Girls kits to some of the eager students at Karaguririo Primary School.

photo8 Girls in grades 6, 7, and 8 at Karaguririo Primary School were happy to show off their new kits!

photo9Cattle are very important to the Maasai people. In their culture, the Maasai zebu breed is a symbol of wealth as well as a vital source of many products used for everything from consumption to housing.

Working and exploring in Ghana

By Olivia Bos and Natalie Chow

Time is flying by and we cannot believe that we only have one more month left in the beautiful country of Ghana. The past few weeks have been busy ones, as we have continued to speak in schools and to Family Based Farming Cooperative groups in the East Gonja District on the importance of good animal care and housing. We have spoken to approximately 1200 people in this district so far –Incredible!! Next week we will travel out of the East Gonja District to four of the surrounding districts to talk to their farmer groups about animal housing. We are looking forward to meeting with new people and seeing more of Ghana.


Olivia and puppy cropped

Olivia holding a puppy she found at a restaurant (because everyone loves baby animals!)

As Canada was celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1st, Ghana was celebrating Ghana Republic day. We decided to take advantage of the long weekend to do some animal related exploring. We spent the weekend at Mole National Park and did some safari tours. The views and scenery were spectacular, and being able to see the animals in their natural habitat was breathtaking. It’s not everyday that you wake up, roll out of bed, and see a family of elephants before breakfast. Or get chased by monkeys on the way back to your hotel room… In addition to elephants and monkeys, we were also able to see a few different species of antelope, warthogs, baboons, a mongoose, a giant stork, crocodiles, rabbits, civet cats and many species of birds and reptiles. On our journey home from Mole National Park we stopped in the small town of Larabanga to visit their famous mud and stick mosque. It was built in 1421 A.D. and is one of the oldest mosques in Africa. We hope you enjoy these snapshots from our adventures!”


Olivia and Natalie talking to a very enthusiastic Family Based Farming Cooperative Group in Yakubupe about animal housing. Pastor John was the community volunteer translator seen standing beside us in the centre.


Photo taken after our session in the Yakubupe community

20170627_095915 20170621_091400

Olivia and Natalie teaching and interacting with the children in the local schools of the East Gonja District.

cropped croc

Olivia, Natalie and Patience Ayamba, our awesome in-country supervisor with SEND, standing behind an African crocodile while on our weekend away. A little too close for comfort!

cropped cob

Our guide called this species of antelope a “cob”, they’re everywhere in Mole National Park.

elephants small

We were fortunate enough to be able to watch some elephants eating their breakfast one morning. They are such amazing creatures!


Pretty happy and excited arriving back safe and sound from our last safari tour. A lady from Colorado joined us as well as our guide, Abdallah.

boat small

A small river running close by to Mole National Park. Our guides took us on a tour down river to try to spot birds, monkeys, and reptiles.

That’s all for now!

Olivia and Natalie



Not all Superheroes wear capes…some wear Kitenges

If you are looking for women with super powers, look no further. This blog from Team Tanzania is packed full of Tanzanian women who balance being super moms as well as super farmers!

We will begin with Elisa Kanga, a Super Woman like no other. She is the Village Executive Officer of Lwajilo village, a rarity in rural Tanzania,who commands respect from the rest of village council. She was very welcoming and left us feeling at home during our first ever village visit. It is clear that one of Elisa’s super powers is her ability to keep this village moving towards a sustainable future. The village has a variety of vaccination programs including poultry, cattle and even canine, as well as a women’s group which Elisa is involved in. The focus of this group being to support women on livestock husbandry.

image001smallSeen here is Elisa Kanga carrying her youngest child in a traditional Tanzanian wrap. Standing next to her in support is her husband Steven Kanga, the Village Chairman of Lwanjilo

Next up meet Severena Chai, the wonder window. Superpower includes: raising 3 young children on her own, caring for 2 dairy cows and a calf, and carrying a sack of potato on her head without breaking a sweat. We met this busy woman through IADO’s round potato planting program in the village of IlemboUsafwa whereshe was very keen on seeking advice to increase her cow’s milk production and welfare.


Severena Chai, claims her sack of potato and carries it on her head like the wonder woman that she is. This is no easy feat, Cheyenne and Angie tried doing it and couldn’t even get the bag off the ground.

Meet Laheli, the real MVP of round potato farming. So much so that she was invited to teach about ecological farming practices in far away villages. She is what most Agricultural NGOs would classify as a Super Farmer. Cheerful and assertive, she didn’t let any of the men in the program push her around.


Here Laheli is proudly displaying her plot of land that she’s prepared for sowing her next round of potato seedlings.

A super hero in the making, Monika Bandari was a very active participant in our poultry management training. She did not hesitate to ask questions and even volunteered to be Ikhoho village’s focal person. As focal person she will be receiving extra training and ensure the sustainability of the poultry vaccine program by making sure her village gets the vaccine even after our work there is done.She currently has 10 chickens but cannot wait to apply what she has learned from the training and grow her flock.

woman small

Monika seen here shortly after she’s chosen by her fellow villagers as focal person.

We don’t want you thinking that we are biased towards picking Super farmers. We know that there are also super women found in the markets of Mbeya. We are lucky enough to meet Mama Sofi, whose super powers include helping lost Canadians navigate the busy Kobwemarket. It also helped that she spoke excellent English and had a great sense of fashion, how else could we have found these beautiful kitenges?

katenges small

Left to Right: Angie, Mama Sofi and Cheyenne posing after Kitenge 101 training. Kitenges are traditional, informal Tanzanian clothing worn by women. They can do everything in them from cooking and cleaning to going out shopping.
We’ve met so many fantastic women and we know there’s plenty more to come. Take a look at these Super heroes in training where almost the entire front row is full of eager young ladies.


Students from Swaya secondary school posing with Angie and Cheyenne after successful completion of poultry program, the goal of which is to enable youth empowerment for self employment.

Brace yourselves, the future is female.

A warm welcome to Uganda

One of the great joys of an international placement is the opportunity to experience another culture. The VWB/VSF volunteer team recently experienced a warm introduction to the culture of western Uganda  (editor).

group small

As we continue our placement, we visited Annah Kabateraine’s mixed farm. In the above photo she is seen in the red along with our team and many others who work for her including her son Emanuel and nephew John seen on the right in the photo. She received a bronze medal for national agricultural micro finance management for highest yield in mixed farming. Annah also promotes agro tourism on her farm.

cattle dip small

Dipping is one of the practices that Annah uses on her farm to prevent the common problem of tick born disease. The cattle impressively swim through an 18 foot deep trough filled with water that is mixed with pesticide.

tractor small

Whilst on the farm we ran into mechanical trouble with the community tractor that Annah shares with 6 other farms and was financed by the government. Shortly after it broke down we had many people from nearby villages come to help fix the problem. We are learning first-hand about Uganda’s strong sense of community.

wedding small

Annah’s son, Evan Toras, took us to a traditional Ankore wedding and helped us rent the proper attire so we would fit right in. The people commented that “we looked smart” which is a common saying/compliment in Uganda.

milk pots small

In Ankore culture milk is kept in the pots seen above; they are smoked after each use to clean the pot and flavor the milk. Yogort and “ghee” which is a fermented butter are also made in the pots. Momma Annah gave us our own pot to use whenever we visit her as a token that we are now like her daughters.

Greetings from Mukurwe-ini!

Over the past 2 weeks, the Kenya team has been working with the veterinarians and extension officers from the Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy Ltd. The dairy is the Kenyan partner of Veterinarians Without Borders and Farmers Helping Farmers, and plays a vital role in the economy of the ever-growing Mukurwe-ini. Currently, over 6000 farmers sell their milk to the dairy, and it provides rewarding employment to many Kenyan women living in rural areas.
The dairy has a strong support system for its farmers, including laboratory tests, extension officers, and veterinary services. The lab provides routine testing of milk, similar to what is done in Canada, to ensure quality of milk products.

The dairy’s extension team educates farmers on components of animal health and welfare including nutrition, housing, and management practices. They advise farmers on small adjustments they can make to cattle housing to optimize comfort, feeding to keep cows a healthy weight, and milking practices to maximize production. Currently, the extension officers are focusing on educating farmers on the benefits of silage production to help feed their cattle consistently over Kenya’s two dry seasons when fresh food is harder to come by. The extension team supplies a chaff cutter to farms on a rental basis, as well as labour for the day, to help farmers make silage.

When working with the veterinary services team, we responded to calls from the community and treated animals as needed, under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Githae Gatheru. These treatments include preventative measures such as deworming, as well as treatments of illnesses with the use of antibiotics, vitamin and mineral supplements, and a little TLC. We were also able to observe some artificial insemination of cattle, a common practice in Kenya.
Next week, we will begin our project focusing on calf care. Our goal is to educate farmers about how to best feed, house, and care for their calves. We want to emphasize that calves given a good start to life will grow into higher producing cows, increasing income for the farmers.

Be sure to check out our favourite photos below from the past 2 weeks!
Thii nawega!
(Goodbye in Kikuyu)


This is the milk receiving dock at Wakulima Dairy. Most farms do not produce much milk with only a few cows per herd, so the dairy uses 20L milk cans to collect from each community. 


This is our team (Alina left, Kelly center and Megan right) on one of our first days out with Dr. Githae Gatheru, one of the vets from the Wakulima veterinary services team. Although it is taking some time to adjust to the heat, we have been enjoying every minute of our experience here.


This week, we went with the extension team from the dairy to help with small scale Napier Grass silage making. First, the Napier Grass is cut using a gas powered chaff cutter, then molasses is added to aid with fermentation, then the chopped silage is packedtightly into plastic bags, each weighing 200-250 kg.


Megan and Kelly following Dr. Githae Gatheru to a farm where we watched an artificial insemination. Many of the farms we visit are only accessible by foot, and are surrounded by the many beautiful landscapes of Kenya. 


Kelly and Megan measuring out a common preventative deworming medication in order to maintain health for this cow and her unborn calf.


Individual calf pens on one of the farms we visited. This raisedhousing system helps to improve calf welfare by preventing calf to calf contact, and reducing the potential for infection by parasite or bacteria from the ground. 


Happy Cows = Happy Megan!