Monday, May 27, 2013

Hello Dear Blog Readers,


Well as my mother reminded me, it’s my turn to let everyone know how things are going with our Global Vets project. Not that this is a hard chore, because we are enjoying Uganda very much and we met with our first parish on Sunday, which made us feel like we are part of something very special.


After arriving in Mbarara, we stayed for a few days at a guest house close to the office of the Foundation for Aids orphan children (FAOC). During our first morning we spent a lot of time reading project documents and conversing with the administrator and programs director, Vivian Namale. Vivian is a wonderful and helpful lady and we are very much looking forward to working with her as she will help us get in touch with the parishes and will often act as our translator. We did feel a bit overwhelmed with the task of turning our many goals for the summer into specific tasks and coming up with a schedule; however, after a day of much reading and asking questions, and a good night’s sleep, things quickly became clearer.


We currently have a schedule of the parish meetings we hope to attend in June where we will try to get an understanding of their economic and social needs. While in the community we will also visit the homes of many potential beneficiaries to decide who is ready to receive goats or pigs, and give support to those who still have a bit more work to do. We had our first Parish meeting on Monday with Kyenyangi (“Chen-yan-gee”), a group which has been very successful in previous years. The women were very welcoming of us, and we were able to talk about many goat health and production problems. Most of the women sat in the grass shucking eggplant to sell in the market while they related their struggles. I think the meeting gave us more of an understanding of the role we play in the project, and opened our eyes a bit more to the beneficiaries’ way of life.


Today we had a staff meeting which lasted all morning at the FAOC office, and we discussed our goals, as well as many other projects they run. We hope to help out with the “Day of the African Child” activities which will take place on June 16, as well as prepare some nutritional demonstrations later in the summer. We spent the rest of the day working on these tasks and looking into the record keeping process for the goat project.


Aside from the project, we have also started to get to know Mbarara a bit and have moved to our permanent place at the Mbarara University for Science and Technology (MUST) student accommodations. We are staying in a lovely apartment with a big living area and a kitchen and we have really enjoyed being able to “nest”. Shopping in the markets and riding around town on the “bodas” – motorcycles which many people here use for transportation- is starting to feel quite normal. On a personal note, as I am writing this blog, I am feeling very grateful for my little family here - Katie and Elad are having a rousing game of Backgammon and Ilse and Tara are teaching us how to count in ryankore, the local language.


Cheers from Uganda!!



Escaped piggies at one of our beneficiaries!

Meeting with the Kyenyangi group

Learning from a very knowledgeable FAOC worker called Joseph

One of many "Awkard Family Photos" I hope to share this summer

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We have currently raised enough funds to purchase and pass out 40 goats, however our goal is to pass out 80 goats this summer. Here is some additional information for anyone interested in donating a goat to this project:

We are currently in Uganda and will be purchasing and passing out goats within the next few months. Fundraised money goes directly into the project for the purchase of goats to pass out to the communities. This is where you have the chance to purchase a goat for a family in need. The majority of our beneficiaries are women and children who have lost family members to HIV/AIDS. The goats help these women to make a small income which helps send their children to school and feed their family. The beneficiaries are only loaned a goat once they have shown dedication and commitment to the program. Once the goat is bred and has reproduced, the loan is repaid as the offpsring enter the program and are passed on to new members.
The cost of a goat in Uganda is $50. With this donation you will receive a picture of a goat with its new family. There are no administration fees and all donations will go directly to the project. Goats will be hand delivered by us and our colleagues. To make a donation please contact Barbara Souther at or 250-652-2906 in Canada. Please include your address and number of goats you purchased so we can send you a picture at the end of the summer. Charitable donation tax receipts available through Vets without Borders can be issued. Thanks in advance, your help is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This morning we went to Kampala to visit the veterinary college at Makerere University. Driving through Kampala was a bit of an adventure but luckily Frank, whom we've been staying with in Entebbe, is a great driver and knows back roads to avoid traffic. We arrived at the college and were a little lost but met a very nice student Martha who is completing her Bsc in wildlife biology. She introduced us to Dr. John Bosco Nizeyi, Uganda coordinator and director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, and Dr. Sam Okech. After chatting for a while they invited us back to attend a boma, a meeting where vets and students share experiences and ideas, at a one health veterinary conference they are holding in early July. We will make every attempt to come back to Kampala to attend.
Busy streets in Kampala.

We then went for a walk around the vet college with Martha. She showed us their center for pathogen control and research and introduced us to Dr. Nakanjako Maria Flavia who works at AFRISA, the Africa Institute for Strategic Animal Resource Services and Development, AFRISA offers programs in essential agriculture and livestock skills for farmers and local community members to enhance their knowledge and education. Before leaving the vet college, Andrew, a final year vet student, gave us a brief tour of their small animal clinic.

We had also been given a book from Dr. Jerry Haigh, his most recent, Of Moose and Men, to deliver to his friend Dr. Christine Dranzoa at Makerere University. We discovered she was no longer in Kampala and was currently working at a university in a town further north, but we managed to meet her sister Angela who will pass the book on for us.

Walking around the beautiful Makerere University campus.

Lunch with Martha was the usual delicious chicken or goat stew with matooke (plantain), rice and chapati. After lunch we were fortunate enough to meet with Dr. Ludwig Siefert. Dr. Siefert teaches at the university and has been working in the national parks in Uganda for many years. His work centres on large carnivore research and community-wildlife relationships. We hope to work with him in Queen Elizabeth National Park later this summer.
Our day ended with a 5 hour bus trip to Mbarara where we will be staying until the end of July working on our project.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Global Vets was created to promote international collaboration on animal health and welfare, public health, food safety, agricultural development and disease emergence; advancing the “One World, One Health” concept. This volunteer initiative is carried out by students in their second year of studies at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Students travel throughout the developing world and participate in volunteer projects that benefit people in foreign nations, enabling students to foster a better understanding of veterinary medicine, agriculture, disease emergence, and social issues in these countries. With similar programs at the Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Montreal, Global Vets strives to enhance working relationships and the exchange of ideas between Canadian veterinarians and their colleagues in developing regions of the world.

In the summer of 2013 Devon Wilson, Tara Bocking, and Elad Ben-Ezra will be working in Mbarara, Uganda on a Vets Without Borders project with Dr. Claire Card. The project summary can be found at Briefly, we will be working in local communities around Mbarara to help in developing sustainable agriculture and income sources for the most vulnerable women. This involves lending goats to the women through the Foundation for Aids Orphaned Children. It is a long-term project, and as kids are born they will be repaid into the project for future beneficiaries. The overall goals of this project are to raise the socioeconomic status of vulnerable women, improve community, animal and environmental health, encourage gender equality and promote long term project sustainability.

We are working alongside two Vets Without Borders students, also from the WCVM, Ilse Dedden and Katie Nicol, their blog can be found at
We are very excited to begin the project and look forward to posting more updates as the project develops.

From left to right: Elad Ben-Ezra, Tara Bocking, Devon Wilson and Katie Nicol.