Tanzania: November 2015

„Great cooperation, friendly team, fantastic atmosphere“ – these are the first words of the report which the program manager, Dr Ruprecht Herbst of VETS UNITED, submitted. He was in Tanzania in November to hold the first unit of our workshop there. On location and in the company of VETS UNITED there was Dr Tina Lang to offer professional training to the students of the college for animal husbandry and animal health.

„When we arrived at the training centre, the 20 students were already waiting for us. They were motivated and eager to learn, albeit still a bit shy. Salomon, our Kenyan expert for donkeys of the Donkey Sanctuary, who supported us, proved a perfect entertainer, guaranteeing good mood. And the veterinary surgeon, Dr Tina Lang, who accompanied us, did a great job and got along fantastically with the students.

In the mornings of the first days the students learned theory. In the afternoons practical training followed. The first topic was the famous „five freedoms“, which form the basis of our notion of animal welfare. They state, what every animal is entitled to: Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, 2. Freedom from discomfort, 3. Freedom from fear and suffering, 4. Freedom from pain, injury and illness, and 5. Freedom to express normal behaviour. We continued with clinical examinations. The 20 participants in our workshop, all of them students of animal husbandry and animal health, learned the methods of fixing animals, to put on muzzles, how to handle a stethoscope and a thermometer. Tina Lang demonstrated all the exercises on a dummy donkey and – even if unintentionally – everybody had fun!

On the third day the theoretical workshop dealt with parasites. The students learned about the risks in their home country and how to treat the animals against parasites. In the afternoon owners of animals were invited to bring their donkeys, sheep and goats to receive free treatments. Working together in groups the students examined the animals according to their newly acquired knowledge and presented the results of their examinations.
The excursion to an agricultural fair, where our partner MAWO had a stand, was a welcome change from school routine. On site the students talked to eco farmers, to the producers of seeds and to herbalists. For most Tanzanians working in agriculture, the work of animals is indispensable. The exchange of views with experienced farmers was extremely educative for the students.

Day four was a very special one: In the morning we dealt with the management of wounds and the students trained the dressing of wounds on each other. Towards noon the whole group together treated one donkey and – diligently helped by the students – we trimmed his hooves.
Then off we went to an animal market – an unbelievable experience. On the entrance we saw hundreds of donkeys who have been „parked“: After carrying heavy burdens to the market they were left there to wait all day long: without water, without food, without shade. For the first time the students worked practically in public. After prior consent of the owners they treated several donkeys against parasites and they did clinical examinations of several animals. These were eventful and exciting days. All of us are looking forward to the mobile clinics, with which we will be touring during the next few days.“

DAYS 5 TO 8:
„After so much theoretical knowledge being taught to the students in the last few days, we then intended to apply that knowledge practically: within the scope of our mobile clinics.
Our first assignment took us to Arusha, where our visit had been heavily advertised in advance. The invitation primarily was addressed to dog owners, because we wanted to vaccinate the dogs against rabies and against parasites. Already the students were extensively involved. Right from the start there was no fear of contact, although the risk of rabies was omnipresent. Altogether the students cared for 100 dogs during that day. At first they took the dogs to have a bath against parasites, then the dogs were vaccinated.

On the next day we repeated a few theoretical topics and checked, whether the basic facts had been properly understood. Then we held a lecture on infectious diseases which are typical for the area.
When we came to rabies, it turned out that there was abysmal ignorance prevailing: When I asked, what the students would do if they met a dog showing signs of rabies, hardly anybody knew, how to behave. Then I asked, what they would do if they were bitten by a dog? The answers were frightfully undiscerning, too. So immediately we changed our curriculum and focussed on the topic of rabies on that day.
Then again, a mobile clinic was scheduled. In order to prepare the students for emergencies, Dr Tina Lang and I had prepared a task for the students: Considering different animal species (for example donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, chicken or dogs) they should consider, how these animals are kept and what could be improved. Furthermore, they should think about typical wounds, the most common parasites and diseases and describe suitable treatments. After that we set off into the mountains, to a small farm with donkeys, horses, goats and chickens. There the students worked in groups, examined the animals, made clinical examinations, cut the claws of the goats and analyzed the housing conditions.

The students proved to us, that they had absorbed a huge workload of new and essential knowledge during the last few days. Vividly they discussed the diagnoses and methods of treatment – no more timidity left! Moreover, within few days the students developed into a great, self-confident team, that is ‘looking forward to their future in practical work’ – their own words!

VETS UNITED repeated the mission in Tanzania and further instructed the same group of students in »in May 2016. The aim is for them to impart their knowledge afterwards to other students so that in the long term animal suffering in Tanzania will be reduced.