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Published: June 25th 2015
This week we finally got our hands dirty! A mix of meetings and going out to the field for brucella testing and clostridium vaccinations! The reason we test for brucella is because once we vaccinate the goat, they are protected for life but they are also positive to the test for life so you can’t tell the difference between a vaccinated goat or one that actually has brucella. We offer vaccinations and tag the ones that come out negative from our tests for next year (they don't need to be retested) and the ones who are positive, we let the owner know so they can sell them for meat and get a new one! A little vet course for you guys :P sorry if its boring info!! And this we do for free, a little bit of an incentive to get them to vaccinate them afterwards.
So as we've been going around to do this, we’ve been refreshing the paravets’ skills, letting them pull for blood and give vaccinations. It’s really cute to see because they really take pride in what they do and I feel like they are excited to go house to house to show their community what
(The laundry room)
they know and the skills they have acquired. It makes me happy that this small training brings them that sense of self-satisfaction and that I am part of it.
Funny story actually, we do the testing of our blood samples for brucella in our super laboratory (our laundry room). So we were just going about it, and Brittany accidently pokes herself with a needle! And obviously, when looking at the results, the blood sample she poked herself with was one of the 4 positives out of our 60+ samples of the day! Brucella is totally transmissible to humans and it’s really not a fun disease to have so you can image our panic. It turns out the possibility of bacteria being present in the blood sample is pretty rare and she’s now on Doxycycline as a preventative so she should be fine. Fewf, we almost lost one !
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It's interesting because even though there’s a lot of poverty, as scotia bank would put it, they are richer than you think! Rich in something other than money that is. I don't mean to be corny but it’s really true, they have minimal possessions, but people
In front of an elementary school that came out for lunch break
seem really happy here. I mean you look at the kids and sure their clothes are all dirty and full of holes, everyone’s walking around barefoot, the houses are tiny, many work really hard in the field all day, but all in all, people truly seem happy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lotttttttt of progress that needs to be made (like basic healthcare, good nutrition, and good education that a lot of the poorer communities don't have access to), and giving a helping hand when we can is imperative but poverty is not all there is to these people, and there are different things that are important to them. There’s a strong sense of community, everyone helps each other out, kids are brought up together, people take pride in the small things they have and family is important. I just think it’s important to share that because I feel like they are often portrayed like they are in constant suffering, and westerners have this idea of extreme poverty in Africa (including me before I came), which there is, but that’s not all there is. It’s not a terrible life; it’s a different life that needs a little perking up.
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So Wednesday was a random holiday (apparently there’s a lot of these!) so we couldn’t get much done. Laura (a vet from Regina who’s been part of the project for the last 5 years, who is here for our first 3 weeks to ease us in and teach us what we need to know to carry on alone) decided she would teach us some skills and at the same time help out some dogs in the communities! So we went and bought all the supplies we needed and did two dog neuters in the middle of the field!!! Although I have done 3 neuters at school this year (one as an assistant surgeon, one as the anesthesiologist, and one as the surgeon) this was a totally different experience! I did a whole ball by myself, on the ground, induced with diazepam and xylazine (would not do this back home, but #ThisIsAfrica), with a whole bunch of kids sitting around watching. Of course we did it as sterile and safe as possible and the dogs are doing great now! But definitely a story for the books. One less pair of balls in the world
Vivian, an extremely nice Ugandan woman (who used to work in partnership with VWB but has now taken a teacher internship) invited us over for a home cooked meal at her place. I’m so happy she did, it was really cute and personal. Like most the places around the city, she lives in a little square type home with a tin roof; basically one room that is separated into two tiny rooms by beaded curtains. No running water, no bathroom, no sink, no dining area, no kitchen, no tv, none of that. In the room we ate in (maybe 3 meters by 5 meters), she had two little one seat couches, a coffee table and the walls were filled with pictures and quotes. She had some pots and pans stacked up together in the corner and had the meal prepared before we arrived, cooked on coals. It was katogo (which is a whole boiled matoke with beans or g-nut sauce poured on top)! So here we are sitting down around the little coffee table with the one light bulb on the wall and all I could think is how you can be so happy with so little.
This is just the norm and big houses and cars and clothes are just not sought out for at all, it’s not even something people wish for or think of, or even know of. They are just content with their lives. And it’s like this in the city, and it’s like this in the villages.
For desert, we cut open a gigantic jackfruit, it looks sort of like a big bumpy watermelon, it’s filled with this super sticky white liquid that you don’t eat, and the part you do eat has the texture of grapes but smells and tastes like bubble gum. Very different than anything I’ve had, y’all should try it when you get the chance!
She was soooo nice and sooo welcoming, and kept thanking us for coming when we owed thanks to her! Before leaving, we set the camera up by the window, set the timer and took a group photo.
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So I’m staying in the loop in Africa. We’re lucky because the girls thought asking me to get a router and two months of internet in the city before I
got here and so we have internet when we are at our base home (that is, when we have power) It’s been working great, great enough that we’ve been streaming bachelorette episodes and are up to date with it, I got them hooked! It plays on Mondays so our Tuesday nights usually consist of getting a bottle of South African wine at the store, making guacamole and chickpea curry at home and watching and talking to the computer as we all give our opinions on what guy Kaitlyn should be choosing! #TeamBenH
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Finally, besides the fieldwork, we worked a lot on the pioneer training taking place next week where select members of communities in Queen Elizabeth will be coming to Mbarara for a full day training and information session designed and given by us. It’s to teach them about the start up of the project, how it works, basic goat husbandry and especially to get them motivated to get everyone else in their villages motivated. Nervous and excited about this for the next week!
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That’s all for week number 3, week number 4 and 5 coming up followed
One of our top beneficiaries! She was one of the firs to start the project with us a couple of years ago and now she has a heard of goats and two cows
by our SAFARI and ZANZIBAR break, yayyyy!!
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