Monday, July 14, 2008

The Magnificient Ankoles

June 19

It was a full day when Dr. William picked us up to go with him to vaccinate cattle in the local region. We were vaccinating for foot and mouth disease, a virus that has been eradicated in Canada but remains an annual problem in Uganda during the dry season. There was an outbreak at a local farm and he was doing a ring vaccination in the surrounding herds.

The morning was quite toasty and we worked up a bit of a sweat running the first batch of cattle through the wooden chutes. It was a pleasant relief to handle the vaccine bottles since they had to be kept cold in a cooler with ice. The fist cattle we worked with were Friesens, very similar to Holstein cows from home. While we had no problem working with these cattle, we were a little intimidated when the second herd was run through. These were the famous ankole cattle, whose horns are so long they dwarfed some of the shorter members of our team. They even posed some problems to the cattle themselves since they couldn't fit into the chute due to the massive width of their appendages and posed a bit of an occupational hazard to Dr. William.

We also visited two other farms that which consisted of Ankole/Friesen crosses, which combine the hardiness of the local breed with the increased production traits of the latter. Our team had a chance at trying our hands at vaccinating and by the end of the day we were covered in a nice smattering of feces and felt like real vet students again. Thank goodness for the stain removing power of the local brand of laundry detergent, "Omo".

Days of Our Lives in Mbarara (Team B)

Please excuse our lack of chronological order in posting our blog entries. Internet usage is sporadic and we couldn't figure out a way to reorder our posts. Many apologies.

June 03

Today we took the bus from Kampala to Mbarara and waited 1.5 hours for the bus to fill up before we could leave the station. The wait wasn't all that bad and we were entertained by the people getting on the bus peddling everything from actual meals on real china to newspapers, watches and anti-nauseau medication.

After about a 5 hour trip we finally arrived in Mbarara andmet Boaz Buyinza, the director of FAOC. He took us to a local trade fair which had representation from people from all over East Africa. We tried some of the local cuisine including muchomo ("meat on a stick") and another local delicacy... crickets! They really weren't that bad and reminded us of... no, not chicken but shrimp!

We also met up with the other team and had a nice renunion as we swapped stories about our trips so far.

June 13

Today was another busy day as we headed out again into the field. This time it was to help an elderly member of the Nyamunyanja parish build a pig pen for her sow. We still feel as if we are mostly figure heads since wielding machetes and hammers doesn't appear to be our forte. However, we do believe that the women really appreciate that we come and express an interest in the project and their lives.

The same day we also stopped at two women's farms to look at their goats and try to discern what was ailing them.

Even though we have only finished second year, we felt that we had enough knowledge to know both cases were not emergencies and told the women we would let Dr. Judy and Dr. Leanne (2 recent WCVM grads volunteering through Vets Without Borders) know about the cases when they returned from their vacation. Thank goodness for pathology class and the five signs of inflammation!

June 18

We were able to go out again with Dr. William on another field call. This time it was a first time calver that required another c-section. It was nice to be able to do a surgery in the daylight and actually be able to see what you are doing! We were able to assist in suturing the animal and Dr. William was a great teacher with a lot of patience and encouraging words.

After the surgery, we went for lunch in town where we gave him a small gift to show our appreciation for letting us tag along.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

C-section Uganda style (Team B)

June 16

Today was our first day with Dr. William Mwebembezi, a local veterinarian. When he dropped by the FAOC office to pick us up, we felt like kids at Christmas. He took us to see a cow that was giving birth to a calf with a posterior presentation (butt first if you will) and had to perform a cesarian in the field.

It was a great experience to see how a C-section is done in Uganda and surprisingly it was quite similar to how they are done in Canada. Perhaps the exception is that it was so dark out by the time we were finishing up that the suturing was done by the light of a cell phone! We ended up delivering a nice live bull calf and mom was up on her feet soon after surgery with a suckling calf.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wielding Machetes (Team B)

June 12

We had quite an eventful day. The morning was spent helping the women of a local parish, Nyamuyanja, build a raised pen fo
r the parish boar, although "help" may be a bit of a stretch. It was quite amusing to see us attempting to wield a machete ("panga") and hack at a branch and then see someone our grandmother's age accomplish the same feat with three strokes of a strong right arm. The women were very kind and made sure we left the field stuffed to the gills with the local cuisine.

In the afternoon, we picked up a load of grass that will be used to thatch the craft shed roof in front of the FAOC office. We must have been quite a sight to see with three giant bundles of grass balanced precariously on the roof of our SUV. We were sent on our way by a giant crowd of laughing children and some how managed to make it home with our cargo intact.

Lost in Translation (Team B)

June 05-10

On our first day at FAOC, we had the pleasure of attending a local parish meeting. The women were very friendly and we were soon learning greetings in the local laungage, "Ryankore", although some with more success than others.

While trying to learn the reply for "Agandi", the local greeting, Jamie misheard Maria saying that "Mbuzi" meant "good' when it really means "goat". Needless to say, there was some confusion and laughs when she used that as a reply.

A day was also spent renovating the craft hut and advertising sign. Everyone in FAOC eventually got involved and our handiwork managed to withstand the heavy thunderstorm that poured down the same night.

Together At Last (Team A & B)

June 4

The first day the entire Global Vets crew got together, we completed the first half of our School Link project. We visited Rustya Primary School in Insingiro district to distribute the soccer balls and school supplies we had brought with us. While it was daunting for these "mzungus" to face an entire school of eager Ugandan school children, we were able to exchange some knowledge about Canada and learn about their school system in return. We plan to return to the school at a later date to pick up the pen pal letters and look forward to exchanging them with a school in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

In the afternoon we returned to the same area to visit St. John's Secondary School where we had a football match with the school mauraders. Contrary to popular belief, we did not "have our butts kicked" and the battle ending in a draw, 1-1. The students seemed to derive great enjoyment everytime one of us tripped over the ball or field and the evening ended in a general good feeling of camaderie.

FAOC (Team A)

May 10-May 22

We spent 2 weeks at the Foundation for Aids Orphaned Children (FAOC) in Mbarara, which is an organization striving to improve the financial situation for the families of AIDs victims. Vets Without Borders is working in association with FAOC. While we were here, Dr. Kent Weir, Dr. Leanne Macdonald, and Dr. Sarah Stewart were working on the goats/pig pass on project with FAOC. Dr. Weir has been in Mbarara since January, while the other two recent grads arrived in late April. Dr. Judy Hodge, another recent graduate will be joining them in June.

We assisted the vets in fecal sample collection and fecal analysis, assessing parasite load post de-worming in order to determine the effectiveness of the dewormer. We also worked with the ladies of the parishes to repair existing goat pens, plant goat feed, and demonstrate overall teamwork. As well, in cooperation with the villagers, we constructed a large goat pen for an elderly member of one of the parishes.

When we were not working in the field, we did general office maintenance. In preparation for the upcoming craft fair in Mbarara and the craft sale at FAOC, we created a sign for the booth, as well as removing the termite infested thatched roof from the old craft shed.

Overall, FAOC was a good first project for our group as we became acquainted with the African lifestyle, the African hospitality, and the very different African time. We learned bits of the local language and customs, and got to know some of the locals, creating a feeling of a home base here in Africa