Gender Updates from Mbarara

Hello Everyone, my name is Hamda Mohamed and this is my first blog post! This is long overdue, so let’s start from the beginning. I arrived in Mbarara, Uganda on July 2nd. Before reaching Mbarara, there is a couple of hours drive from Entebbe to Mbarara. After arriving in Mbarara, I met my advisor Annet, who helped me get settled in to my new surroundings. She made me feel very comfortable right away, and she invited me into her home and cooked lunch for Chris (another volunteer) and I. She was (and still is) a great local advisor and very welcoming.

Hamda at Annet’s with Chris

I began my placement with local partners SNV and their partner, Agriterra shortly after arriving. Once my workplan was approved and the community members had been introduced to me, I could begin the implementation of my workplan. This included travelling to villages daily. Some villages were only a 20 minute drive while others would take several hours to reach.

While in the villages, I found wearing dresses provided me with better approval within the community compared to when I wore jeans. The way you present yourself absolutely impacts how well you fit into the community, and whether or not they will internalize and listen to what you are saying. Traditionally woman in the villages do not wear pants, which are Western. Therefore, the fact that I look like a local and dress within their appropriate attire makes trust and capacity building much easier.

During one village visit to Sanga, I held meetings with seven women leaders in their community. Within this group three woman owned their own yogurt business; there were also several female board members of the Sanga dairy co-operative present. The discussions focused on strategies for gender and youth sensitization, mobilization, and inclusion within the dairy value chain. Dairy and the dairy value chain is a central source of income for many communities here, so it is important to include women and youth who are typically excluded from income opportunities.

Hamda meeting with women in Sanga.

Local issues with the dairy value chain were discussed. One issues the women involved in yogurt production explained was a lack of support for market integration. Specifically, due to localization and lacking supports for transport and marketing of their product they experience barriers for growth. Many of these women have low income and cannot afford to implement the steps needed to market their yogurt. For example, selling yogurt in bottles is inexpensive compared to containers. However, people in the community prefer to buy yogurts in containers which results in a struggle to financially ‘break-even’ for these groups. On the other hand, it was also made apparent that these three yogurt groups were competitively vying for a market in one small area. Through our meetings we decided to take all three yogurt groups and make one united group, titled “Sanga’s Women Group.” Forming one collective group united these entrepreneurs and made it easier to implement marketing strategies and pooled funds. Sanga’s Women Group is collaborating with a local business ‘ Yoba For Life’ to assist them with marketing strategies.

These female leaders are keen to acts as ‘agents of change’ to help mobilize other woman in different areas in a similar way. They proposed the idea of travelling to field with me and advocating for the opportunity of financial empowerment as a role model group. These women had explained that extensive sensitization is required from community leaders as well. One female board member explained to me that I should rally all the female board members and ask them to join me in my youth and gender discussions. If the board members were to travel to different areas to advocate on the importance of decision-making power that is present within cooperatives, it would produce a stronger effect within these vulnerable groups because they would see the evidence for themselves.

Additionally, one female leader advised me to get church leaders involved, in collaboration with female board members. She explained that the support of pastors and husbands, would produce a domino effect of sensitizing the women as well because there would be a system of acceptance that would be felt holistically, in every aspect of domestic life.

Hamda working with women in Sanga

I conducted a gender training meeting in Akatongole. The women who attended the meeting were interested in yogurt making but were skeptical about how fiscally responsible it would be to invest in yogurt making. Many women have to take out loans from their husbands which was a concern for them. The extension officer of Akatongole advised me to have another meeting in which I arrive with a successful women’s yogurt group and female board members as well. It was interesting to hear from many different sources that the women and youth in these rural areas require role models (Champion Role Model Group/ Champion role model female board members/Church leaders) to help advocate for empowerment.

The challenge has been that these church leaders/ female board members are quite spaced out geographically. These rural agrarian landscapes make it financially difficult for these change agents to travel and help sensitize the women and youth in remote villages.

I did however form nine group councils and 16 youth councils. These groups discussed a shared vision for their team in having additional income with the dairy value chain. Through the youth and women subsidies provided by SNV (a local partner of VWB) many of them were excited and are on track to increase their funds. Psychological empowerment of youth was another factor that I took into consideration for each group by discussing the innovative and fresh ideas that each member could contribute.

One thing that I kept noticing was the low number of women within youth groups and in board of cooperatives. I realized that it was hard to access women to appear in meetings due to the double burden of time present for them. Even if youth councils were free to join (compared to cooperatives), their time was still occupied. If I wanted to see and sensitize more women, I would have to travel to them individually, household by household.

Although I work hard, in my free time I hang out with my roommate who is also my co-worker and some of our local friends. We go swimming and horse back riding, and I enjoy being out with nature as much as I can. Of course, with a stable tropical climate such as Mbarara, we have all the beautiful sun you could ask for. I travelled to Lake Bunyonyi, which was also an amazing experience. It is several hours from Mbarara, and it contains the second deepest lake in Africa. It really was very relaxing being by the lake and canoeing. I had such a cathartic experience being there, it was a beautiful experience.

Hamda and friends

After the time at the lake, it was back to work!

Youth Volunteers Working Hard in Uganda

Wasibota! Good Afternoon!

It has been very busy this month in Mbarara! Between meetings, farm visits, school presentations, and vaccinations, all of the volunteers have had their hands full this June.

Katelyn and Carina continue their work with SNV/FAOC to educate students about the importance of including milk in a balanced diet. They travel to many schools, sometimes visiting over 10 in one day! The work is rewarding when they are able to see the children’s smiling faces.

Olivia and Nikki also carry on with setting up the dairy business centers, presenting their progress in SNV’s TIDE business meeting. Not only were their ideas well received, but they were able to gain a better insight into some of the problems faced by the local farmers through invited speakers. The day was long, but very informative!

However, they were able to step outside the office and get their hands dirty by visiting a nearby demonstration farm, Rubyerwa Dairy Investments LTD. The business development officer, Wilber Begumya, welcomed the volunteers warmly before giving them a full tour.

Bimonthly, local farmers are invited for several training days where they are able to learn about farming practices and animal husbandry, so that they are able to improve the productivity on their own farms.

Pictured above is Uganda’s famous ankole cattle, with impressively large horns. On the right, you can see a cow which was gifted a bell around its neck, signifying it as the 100th addition to the herd.

Both Nikki and Olivia were able to take part in the demonstrations, including those around artificial insemination and cattle management.

Jersey cow exam.

Pictured above volunteer Olivia preforms rectal palpation on a jersey cow with instruction from technician Paul Nabaasa. The procedure is important both in placement of the sperm during AI and in checking the pregnancy status of the cow after insemination has taken place.

Nikki and Wilber had a milking competition after the demonstrations were finished.

Finally, the month was wrapped up by the beginning of the goat vaccination campaign, spearheaded by Carina and Katelyn.

Blood draw, physical exam, and vaccination was preformed on over 300 goats spanning 3 communities, with many more to come!

After blood collection, the volunteers carry out brucella testing to identify the goats that carry brucellosis, a disease that is prominent in Uganda and causes many issues in regards to farm productivity.

Milking Cows in Uganda by Dr. José Denis-Robichaud

During my first two weeks in Uganda, I have been doing a lot of learning. I know, I know, I am supposed to bring expertise here…but I think before I can help in a foreign country, I need to understand what is happening. So  here I am, in the second biggest coffee producing country, drinking tea and talking about how it is to milk cows in Southwestern Uganda.

Tea time at Rubyerwa Dairy Investment ltd. No day can go without a few cups of tea (hot fresh milk and tea leaves). On a farm that employs so many people and constantly has visitors and trainees, Brenda and Alex are essential to the operation, and the happiness of everyone!

To be immersed in the culture, I am staying at Rubyewra Dairy which is one of the Practical Dairy Training Farms. In collaboration with SNV (the NGO hosting me here), these farms created 4-day courses for farmers to improve their knowledge on management, nutrition, and breeding of dairy cattle. I had the chance to attend one of the training during my first week, where I was happily surprised by the amount of information that was given to farmers over the 4 days.

Practical Dairy Training at Rubyerwa Dairy Investment ltd. Discussion about water access in the pastures with (from left to right) Generous Kagumire, Innocent Nowarmani, David N. Kalitani, and Norman Kakuru.

While everyone in the class was learning about management, nutrition and reproduction, I was learning about the challenges of milking cows in Uganda. Most of the milking cows in Uganda are local breeds (Ankole and Zebu), which seem to be more beef than dairy cows with a daily milk production of 2 to 4L. To be able to meet the milk market that has grown in the past years, producers are now using exotic breeds… And by exotic, I mean what we are used to: the good old black and white Friesian, or the pretty Jersey (which are known to produce over 30L per day in North America and Europe).

Milking cows at Rubyewra Dairy Investment ltd. Philomena’s herd has 28 cows in lactation at the moment. While most of them are crossbreeds between Ankole (local breed) and Friesian, some are crossbreeds with Jersey and Ayrshire.

The problem with exotic cows is that they are not very well adapted to Ugandan conditions… and maybe Uganda is also not really adapted to them. Here is why: I first learned about the four Ugandan seasons: the wet season (March to June), the dry season (June to September), the very wet season (September to December), and the dry season (again, December to March). And let me tell you, they don’t call it dry season for nothing…We’re in the middle of it now, and I think the humidity level is probably -15% (true story)! As Ugandan dairy cows find their feed on pastures, the nutrients available for cows during the dry seasons are so limited that ͞exotic cows have no possibility to reach their milk production potential.

Farmers now need to plan ahead and have extra silage, grains, protein sources, minerals, which they never had to do with their Ankole cows. Moreover, they need to make sure their cows have access to water (I know this sounds very basic, but it is not an easy task to make water accessible to your cows in every pasture they go grazing)!

During the training sessions, instructors emphasize the importance of building water points, and to making silage in preparation for the dry seasons. This is when I realized what ͞mechanization of agriculture meant. Personally, I grew up in a world where there was a tractor for everything. Seriously, plowing, tilling, disking, harrowing, planting, spraying, harvesting, chopping, mixing, transporting, etc. The only thing left was rock picking, but I think there is now a rock picker! Here… well, let’s just say there’s a tractor for nothing. It’s all man power that accomplishes work on farms. For example, it takes 40 people for a whole day to make a small silage bunk.

Making silage at Rubyewra Dairy Investment ltd. Man power is essential for every single task on the farm, from harvesting the feed, to milking the cows. The silage bunk took 40 people working for a whole day.

When I use man power, it is not a figure of speech as most people involved in agriculture are men. I’ve come to realize that women are not raised to be involved in agriculture or businesses. There are, obviously exceptions. For example, the almost 75-year-old woman who owns the farm where I live runs the family business on her own. I also met a few other women involved in farms, but I have to say they are rare. Organizations such as Veterinarians Without Borders and SNV have for mission to integrated women in agricultural enterprises and support their empowerment.

Philomena, who will be 75 years old in September. She is a great inspiration for other women in the community!
Clementia is a young hard-working university student who did her internship at the farm. She was excellent with the calves and had a good eye to see when a cow was starting to be sick.

Another great challenge exotic cows are facing in Uganda is diseases. Many tick-borne diseases such as East Coast Fever (Theileria parva), anaplasmosis (Anaplasma marginale), and babesiosis (Babesia bigemina) are highly prevalent in Uganda.

Unfortunately, exotic breeds are not resilient to these infections, and there are many losses associated to them. The control of these diseases is primarily done with the use of acaricides to prevent ticks to attach to cows and calves. As all animals on the farm need to be thoroughly sprayed twice a week, it is a very intensive workload or a very expensive investment to install a spray race on the premise.

Spraying acaricide on cattle at Rubyewra Dairy Investment ltd. While spraying, it is essential to get the animals covered in acaricide. It is either time (hand spraying) or money (spray race) consuming for farmers to maintain a good tick management and prevent diseases highly prevalent in the region.

The last challenge I want to present here is more for me than for the cows… While Ugandan dairy farmers are facing multiple challenges such as weather, nutrition, water, diseases, etc., my role here is to assess the breeding strategies in use, and to make recommendations for the future. As a veterinarian and an epidemiologist, I was trained to use data to make decisions. There is however, no data available in the country, whether for production, reproduction or health. It is consequently very difficult to evaluate the impact of the strategies adopted by farmers, other than with the ͞gut feeling.  Luckily, I have a few resources in my back pocket, which I’m planning to use to help supporting my recommendations.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep on giving a hand for milking (literally, there is no milking machines here), taking care of the calves, and interacting with local farmers for the two weeks I have left in this beautiful country.

On a Ugandan dairy farm. Milking cows by hand, twice a day, requires skills and dedication. Pelé, born from a Friesian cow and a Gir bull (Brazilian breed).This crossbreeding is possible through importation of semen and artificial insemination.

Webare / thank you!

Nogambaki from Mbarara, Uganda!

We would like to introduce everyone to our VWB summer placement team! We will all be working on SNV’s TIDE (The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise) initiative. Carina and Katelyn will be working on the school milk and goat pass on projects in partnership with FAOC (Foundation for Aids Orphaned Children). Olivia and Nikki will be continuing projects surrounding artificial insemination and dairy farming, eventually aiming to establish dairy hubs to support the current market.

As soon as we arrived, we already ran into car troubles. On our first night we woke up to a flat tire so we all had to use our “mechanical skills” to tackle the challenge. Pictured above is Dr. Laura McDonald and Katelyn attempting to remedy the problem.

Car issues were quickly resolved!

After our car mishap was sorted, we started to explore our new home of 3 months and get down to work. Carina and Katelyn began to get some practice in with some local goats by preforming blood draw and basic physical exam.

Drawing blood

Meanwhile, Olivia and Nikki began meeting with the AI technicians to work on identifying resources required by the technicians for the business centers, meeting some new furry friends along the way.

The SNV group making friends in the field!

In addition to our animal focused work, the volunteers and Dr. McDonald were able to participate in World Milk Day celebrations in Kaberebere. The event was organized in collaboration with FAOC as a part of SNV’s school feeding campaign. Many students are sent to school without proper nutrition, which decreases their ability to focus and learn while in the classroom. By promoting milk programs and educating students and parents about the importance of balanced nutrition, the campaign hopes to help alleviate this issue and improve the student drop out rate. The event was an enormous success, having over 2,500 attendees!

Pictured above is FAOC director Boas with a group of attendees showing off their empty milk cups.

Finally, on a quiet weekend, we were able to steal a few hours away to visit Lake Mburo and to see what vet students love most… ANIMALS! We were able to observe many of the native species to Uganda, including the impala pictured below.

Animals in the park!

So far this has been the experience of a lifetime, and we all are looking forward to what the rest of this summer and our placements have in store!

Youth Participation in the Dairy Value Chain – Uganda

Esther Alumba is a Canadian Gender Advisor volunteer that has been in Ugandan since January 2017. She has been working with the Uganda Crane and Creameries Co-operative Union (UCCCU) to engage youth in the dairy co-operatives in Mbarara in the South-Western region of the country.

Profile pic - Esther Alumba

In accordance with one of the objectives of the Uganda Crane and Creameries Co-operative Union (UCCCU), Esther and the gender team are making sure young farmers’ groups are formed within various co-operatives through mentorship activities undertaken by the main co-operatives. So far six youth groups have been formed with more to come before the end of the year.

Ibadan Young farmers (3)Ibanda Young farmers association

The rationale for youth interventions is based on the fact that there are fewer and fewer youth interested in farming. As the older farmers age and become weaker, the younger ones (their sons) are expected to be taking responsibility for the farms. Instead they are not interested and more and more are growing up without the dairy farming skills, passion and knowledge their parents had. This gap is a threat to UCCCU and to dairy sector because there is no clear strategy for continuity and sustainability.

Some of the issues around dairy farming include:

  • The work is a challenge and there is no technology in place yet to make it easier.
  • There is reduced labor to milk the cows.
  • Farm workers are not motivated because they cannot earn as much from farming as they would like to.
  • Quality control of milk is a challenge with hired farm labour.

Given the above stated issues, there is a need for the government and partners in the country to have a strong strategy for the future.

Ishongororo young farmers (4)Itojo Young Farmers’ Association

What VWB/VSF is doing to enhance youth involvement in the dairy sector

  • Helping youth to understand the opportunities and challenges that are present in the sector so that they can be able to make informed decisions.
  • The youth are being encouraged to take lead in the dairy sector space, for instance being in cooperatives management. This will enable their voices to be heard and policies that favor their growth implemented.

Itojo young farmers groupItojo Young farmers association

Ishongororo young farmers (2)Ishongororo young farmers

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.


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.

Meet the Uganda volunteer team

“Agandi” – Hello how are you? Greetings all the way from Mbarara Uganda!

seifert small cropped
We would like to introduce you to the Veterinarians without Borders Uganda team. From left to right Cassia Michel, Nicole Sheedy, Michelle Mak, and Hollyn Maloney. In the middle is Dr. Ludwig Siefert, one of the veterinarians who oversees the health of wildlife within the Queen Elizabeth National Park and leads the team of the Uganda Carnivore Project. ( Cassia and Michelle are working together on VWB/VSF’s goat pass on and school milk projects. Nicole and Hollyn will be working on a new project in partnership with SNV a Netherlands based organization. The project is called TIDE (The inclusive dairy enterprise).

edison small
Edison Ntwazza is a trained technician performing artificial insemination (AI) on a local farm. Edison is one of the technicians working with SNV to improve the success of AI in the district of Mbarara. He has been operating his own AI business in the district for many years and is one of thirteen technicians to join the TIDE project in 2016. We have been travelling with Edison to local farms in the community to observe the challenges and successes that the people of Uganda experience when developing their dairy farms.

antoinoa 2 small
This is Sister Antonia Tibareka, one of four sisters who run a successful dairy farm in Rubindi, Uganda. She has a herd of 30 Holstein cattle and has been using the AI services for 8 months with good success rates. One of the challenges she faces is providing sufficient water for her animals during the dry season. This year Uganda has experienced a drought which has made access to water during the dry season a serious issue. Sister Antonia solved the problem by building dugouts, including the one below. She sold 7 cows to pay for the construction. Each cow is worth approximately 1,000,000,000 ($376 CDN) for a total investment of nearly $2,700 CAD.

water hole small

goats small

Along with her herd of cattle sister also raises pigs and goats to diversify her income. She has constructed raised pens for both the goats and pigs so that the manure can be collected and used as fertilizer elsewhere on the farm.

Sister Antonia is appreciative of the partnership she has begun with SNV and Veterinarians without Borders, and is looking forward to continued support for the development of her farm.

One Health in Uganda

By Jamie Neufeld with Kyla Kotchea, Veronica Pickens, and Shauna Thomas

Photos by Kris Chandroo and Jamie Neufeld

July was by far our busiest month working on a variety of projects. We rarely reached home before it was pitch black, and the sun seemed to rise earlier and earlier with each passing day. Along with our vaccination campaign, we had two reusable menstrual pad training days, two community wellness education days with our nursing and nutrition colleagues from the University of Saskatchewan, paravet training day, and the goat pass-on, which we have been working towards all summer.  Thankfully, July also brought project supervisor Dr. Claire Card to Uganda, which provided us interns with invaluable learning opportunities in the field and help with organizing paravet training day and the goat pass-out.

PHOTO 1Dr. Claire Card with our friends from Vetoquinol.  From left to right: Vik Nimbkar, Claire Card, Kristopher Chandroo, and Kelsey MacNeil.  Photo courtesy Kris Chandroo.

The reusable menstrual pads training day focuses on empowering young women and the value of education.  Before coming to Uganda, hearing that young women miss school every month when they have their periods was a concept that was difficult to grasp. How can something so natural prevent young women from receiving education?  However, hearing about challenges in the household made the situation a bit more sensible; some families eat one meal a day, have over five children to pay school fees for, and certainly cannot afford the disposable menstrual products that we take so for granted in the western world.  The objectives of this project, which was spearheaded by WCVM student and VWB 2015 intern Sarah Zelinkski, are to provide girls with reusable menstrual pads so they never have to miss school because of their menses again, to emphasize how education is directly correlated to making more money and having fewer, healthier children, and that girls can do everything just as well as boys – oftentimes even better! The training days took place at Kihwa Primary School and Nyamuanja Modern School and were received with much enthusiasm.  The girls learned how to sew their own reusable liners, care and wash instructions, and left with a liner and shield set that were sewn by friends and family members in Canada.

PHOTO 2 (1)Girls at Nyamuanja Modern School sewing their reusable liners.

We were incredibly fortunate to have University of Saskatchewan nursing and nutrition students in Mbarara this summer who were invested in the wellness of our community members. Because of their interest and efforts, we were able to provide community health days to two groups, Kahenda and Kishuro.  Kahenda is a secluded, difficult to access community where the population is elderly and cervical cancer and syphilis are of great concern.  Many children are malnourished, as many grandmothers raising grandchildren are unaware of the different dietary requirements between the two life stages.  Kishuro is a large community that asked for further education in nutrition and first aid training. For both days, our nursing and nutrition colleagues were right on target with providing pertinent training and education, consultations, and cooking demonstrations that used local foods to make tasty, nutritious dishes. To add to this One Health experience, many of the nurses and dieticians spent time with us in the field vaccinating, tagging, and deworming goats, graduating as expert goat wranglers. Shauna and I spent a day in the hospital’s labour and delivery ward and assisted with our first ‘human calving’, an experience that confirmed our pursuit of veterinary medicine.

PHOTO 3 (1)University of Saskatchewan nutrition students starting off the community health day under the acacia tree with the members of Kishuro.

Last but certainly not least, the goat pass-out. The five days leading up to the goat pass out day were some of the busiest days of summer. Pens of potential beneficiaries had to be checked, goats for sale needed to be located, tested for brucellosis, purchased, and transported to the FAOC site where the event occurred, and contracts and goat keeping records printed. Once all of the goats were on site, each goat needed to be dewormed, vaccinated, sprayed for ticks, and photographed for our records. The stress from transporting goats and mixing animals from multiple sellers made for a variety of physical ailments, so the animals were closely monitored and treated when necessary. We performed supermammary teat removals, trimmed hooves, and treated ringworm and deep corneal abscesses. We were happily joined by three people, Kris, Vik, and Kelsey, who were sponsored by Vetoquinol and present for the paravet training day and goat pass-out.  They enriched the experience with sincere interest in the communities and beneficiaries, knowledge of veterinary medicine, humour, beautiful photographs, and lots of help with the goats. After only two days together, we were sad to see them go.  At the pass-out ceremony, beneficiaries received one or two goats depending on level of need along with a notebook for goat record keeping.  Contracts outlining the pass-on scheme and proper goat care were signed, and the day ended with the spectacular site of red dirt roads speckled with traditionally dressed women and men walking their new goats home, some up to twenty kilometers away.

PHOTO 4All attendees of the goat pass-on day: Beneficiaries and their children, community paravets and chairpeople, VWB interns, University of Saskatchewan nursing and nutrition students, and our guests from Vetoquinol.  Photo courtesy Kris Chandroo.

PHOTO 5Hellen Tumwine from Rutsya with her new goat at the pass-out.  Photo courtesy Kris Chandroo.

In conclusion, success of the VWB goat pass-on project is rooted in working closely with the community members and trying to tackle the challenges they face, whether it be animal related or otherwise.  Upon starting our internship in May, we dove into a One Health experience that developed our interprofessional, veterinary, and communication skills.  We are thankful for this opportunity with VWB and to have had Dr. Card as our passionate and informative project supervisor, and for the generous donors who purchased the goats for pass-out day.  We owe so many thanks to our translators who became dear friends, and to the community members who graciously welcomed us into their lives.

thumbnail_PHOTO 6 (1)Ten-year-old Batorine with his sister, Lynette.  Batorine stays home from school to help farm beans, matoke, and fruit.  With the help of goats, we are hopeful that Lynette will have the opportunity to attend school.