Lights, Camera, Action!

Gordon and Judy are Canadian videographers producing a film to highlight the current Vets without Borders projects in Laos. This dynamic husband-wife team has joined us in the field to get some exciting footage of the PAHWs in action! On the final day of filming, we arranged individual interviews with a few PAWHs so that Gordon and Judy could capture their personal experiences with the project and impact that it has had on their community.

Arriving in Dounien Village for PAHW interviews.

Daovy, Margot, Gordon, Judy and I traveled to Dounien, one of the eleven villages participating in the project. Here we were greeted by two PAHWs, Khamla and Phonetip. After a brief tour of this charming village we settled into a quiet spot to begin the interviews. Khamla and Phonetip gathered a few plastic chairs from the local church as Gordon and Judy set up the camera, microphones and reflector.

Interview with Khamla
Gordon and Judy get ready for the interview with Khamla.

The PAHWs were admittedly nervous. They had never done anything like this before and the idea of being in the spotlight was intimidating. Daovy, our Project Co-ordinator, lead the interviews. She asked each PAWH a series of five questions allowing them to explain and elaborate their answers before translating them into English so that the rest of us could understand.

In Lao, the word “daovy” means star and that’s exactly what she is! Watching her translate is impressive to say the least. She has this unique ability to seamlessly switch between languages and communicate a message without losing context, emotion or even a joke. It’s a talent that never ceases to amaze me!

Daovy interviews Phonetip about his experience as a PAHW.

Khalma and Phonetip explained that they were motivated to become PAHWs by their desire to improve the health of animals and people in their community. Khamla said that he was proud of his new responsibilities because he knows that keeping animals healthy helps improve the livelihood of the entire village. Phonetip explained that he was happy to have learned new things about animal health, farm management and disease prevention. The interviews only lasted a few minutes but in that short time I started to understand what it really means to be a Primary Animal Health Worker.

Phonetip (front right) and Khamla (back center) in action during vaccination training.

Now that Gordon and Judy have collected all of this awesome footage in the field, the tedious editing process begins. Somehow they will to work their magic to turn hours of filming into a short three minute clip!

Stay tuned for the official release of the video. But for now, that’s a wrap!





For more information on Vets without Borders or to make a contribution to our cause, please visit our website:





PAHWs for Applause: Vaccination Campaign off to Successful Start

Laos is on the brink of rainy season. A bountiful rainy season is crucial for agricultural production however; it also creates environmental conditions that promote bacterial growth. This can put farm animals at risk for diseases like Hemorrhagic Septicemia [1]. Vaccination is the best way to protect cattle and prevent death from this disease. That’s why our team from Vets without Borders and NUOL is training Primary Animal Health Workers (PAHWs) on cattle vaccination. This training will provide PAHWs with the knowledge they need to educate local farmers on the benefits of cattle vaccination and give them the skills to administer the vaccines independently.

PAHWs watch attentively as Vet. Margot demonstrates how to properly fill a syringe with vaccine.
Margot uses a stethoscope to listen to the breathing of a distressed calf.

After last week’s theory-based training, PAHWs mobilized for the first day of practical training on the Faculty of Agriculture (FoA) Cattle Farm. After a quick review of the proper technique and a demonstration by Vet. Margot, the PAHWs were eager to give cattle vaccination a shot (literally!)

PAHWs use a digital thermometer to check the body temperature of a calf.

It was chaotic in the cattle pen at first, but our PAHWs were unfazed! With the guidance of Prof. Chantha and Vet. Margot, the PAHWs assembled into teams and worked together to restrain the cattle. One by one, the PAHWs filled their syringes with vaccine, handled the cattle and administered the injection.

This was my first time witnessing cattle vaccination. It was so exciting! I watched each PAHW closely and keenly took down notes to make sure every PAHW got a chance to show us their skills. As I checked their names off my list, they smiled proudly, happy to have successfully completed each task.

After only a couple of hours, the PAHWs had already vaccinated 36 heads of cattle!

This is a cattle pen in Palai Village. Notice how different it is from the pen we worked with at the Faculty of Agriculture Cattle Farm.
PAHWs take turns filling syringes with vaccine for Hemorrhagic Septicemia.

With the first day of practice under their belts, the PAHWs were ready to conquer day two of practical training. This time we assembled in Palai Village to see how PAHWs would perform on a real farm.

PAHWs working together to handle and vaccinate cattle in Palai.

Every farm we visited was different and it was impressive to see how quickly the PAHWs could adapt their skills based on the environment they had to work with. Handling the cattle was more difficult without the structural facilities of the FoA Cattle Farm but our group of talented PAHWs managed to overcome the obstacles and vaccinate another 29 heads of cattle.

This brings our grand total of vaccinated cattle to 65!

It was a two-day vaccination sensation! Now our trained PAHWs are ready to continue the Hemorrhagic Septicemia vaccination campaign in their own villages.

PAHWs write down the name of each farm they visit and the number of cattle they vaccinate. This helps them keep track of the village's protection against disease.




For more information on Vets without Borders or to make a contribution to our cause, please visit our website:




[1] Merck (2012). Transmission, epidemiology, and Pathogenesis. Overview of Hemorrhagic Septcemia. Retrieved on May 16, 2013 from /overview_of_ hemorrhagic_septicemia.html


Reporting Live from Paksapmei!

Hi! My name is Kristen and I am a grad student from the University of Guelph. When I accepted my offer of admission to the Master of Public Health Program, I had absolutely no idea that it would result in me spending a summer abroad. But here I am in Paksapmei, a village 35 kilometers outside Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, a country that I would have struggled to locate on a map a year ago.

I’m still adapting to the overwhelming heat, spicy food and unfamiliar language but today marks the second week of my work as Communications Intern for Vets without Borders. For the next three months I will be busy writing a research article, assisting on grant proposals, creating posters for project participants and of course, updating this blog with fascinating stories, pictures and videos of the VWB projects in Laos!

Stay tuned, new posts on cattle vaccination training for PAHWs coming soon!