By Rina Wangila, Metrine Nyanja, and Brigid Muasa
On January 31st, we arrived at Mukurwe-ini at 11 a.m. very eager to meet the students from the Atlantic Veterinary College. None of us had been to the village before, but it was pretty easy for us to locate the Wakulima Self Help Group. The project Self Help Group has been partnering for ten years with Farmers Helping Farmers from Canada, and it showed. It was quite impressive to see how the milk plant was well equipped as compared to the other farmer’s co-operatives in the country. There was a well equipped laboratory to run milk quality control tests such as California Mastitis Tests and Alcohol Tests. The management of the self help group is commendable.
We went to a bunch of farms near Mukurwe-ini where we examined and treated cattle with problems such as lungworm pneumonia, mastitis, and surgical removal of extra teats. We also gave farmers an opportunity to ask questions regarding dairy health management and disease prevention. The frequent questions were about retained afterbirth, mastitis, infertility, nutrition related conditions such as copper deficiency, and low milk production. We were able to answer most of the questions from the farmers with guidance from the professor, Dr. John VanLeeuwen. A frequently tackled subject was pharmacology since we used the drugs that were donated by Canadian pharmaceutical companies. We were introduced to a new dewormer, Cydectin, that’s an easier pour-on product, one that could easily be done by the farmers. To us students, these were very interactive sessions as they were similiar to an oral exam scenario without the exam stress. These were very informative sessions.
Socially this has been quite a wonderful experience with us tasting candy made out of maple syrup (A.K.A tree sap) which is a delicacy in Canada, and the Canadians getting a taste of sugar cane (A.K.A tree bark). We have talked a lot about our respective vet schools and discovered that there are some differences but the basics are pretty much the same. Our ways of life are also a bit different. For instance we walk to a lot of places, not as exercise but just as part of our lives but the Canadians were a little surprised as this is not common there and most people use cars.
This has been a really good experience for us as we get to interact with farmers and the local practicing vets and get real first hand experience on what goes on at the field level, making us better equipped to handle these issues when we graduate. Getting to know some Canadians and their customs, and describing some of our customs and activities has been a great additional benefit. Just the other day we gave Andrea a lesson "How to hand wash your clothes 101". As for how it went, we will leave it at that. Ask her.