We’re checked in, through security, and ready to depart from the Nairobi airport, but we’re far from ready to say goodbye to this wonderful country! It’s time to fill you in on our third week of activities.
On our return from a fabulous weekend at the Sweetwater Game Reserve, we welcomed two new veterinary students from the University of Nairobi, Edward and Francis. We became fast friends and they were a great addition to our team for the week!
Our final week in Kenya consisted of seminars around Meru county. Monday was spent at the Ngusishi Dairy Group where we gave another seminar to a record-breaking crowd of over 160 farmers. It was really encouraging to have so many farmers eager to learn and asking great questions! They enjoyed the demonstration by Matt and Stephen of how to heart tape a cow to estimate a cow’s weight (see photo). They even gave us amazing gifts, consisting of beaded purses, Kenyan hats and certificates of appreciation, to show their gratitude for the work of Farmers Helping Farmers. We were so touched and will definitely treasure these gifts.
We travelled back to Ex Lewa on Tuesday to see lots of cows with problems and we gave our first seminar in the area. There was a big crowd of farmers and we enjoyed seeing all the people we’d met last week again. At Ex Lewa we were also given another token of appreciation, shirts and scarves! The generosity and kindness of the Kenyan people never cease to amaze us, and we are so grateful to have such lovely gifts to bring home.
On Tuesday night our team split up to spend the night in three separate farmers’ homes as a “billet night” to become even more familiar with the local community and how everyday life in Kenya works. We all thoroughly enjoyed our nights with these local families and we’d like to extend a big “asante sana!” for their hospitality. We were all up bright and early at our respective billets to help milk the cows (by hand!) and deliver the milk to the pick-up station nearby.
After breakfast Wednesday morning, we said our goodbyes and headed off to the Buuri Dairy Group for a long seminar in the hot afternoon sun. The heat was worth it though as it was a great seminar with many engaged farmers and we were joined later in the day by some colleagues from Vets Without Borders Canada! This group arrived in Kenya on Sunday and will be travelling around the Meru area for 3 weeks, doing work very similar to ours as they assist and educate the local farmers. After the seminar, we saw an interesting case of a cow that occasionally stumbles as she walks and has been doing this since she was a young heifer. Other than her clumsiness, she was in great condition and a happy cow so we just gave advice on how to manage her so she doesn’t injure herself. The Buuri Group, in true Kenyan style, was once again too kind and sent us on our way with Kenyan hats to wear proudly! Asante!
On Thursday, we were joined by our friends from Vets Without Borders as we travelled to the Muthiru area to see some sick cows and visit the dairy again. On our last working day in Kenya, we got to see our first case of Lumpy Skin Disease, a common viral condition that causes skin lumps all over the body. Fortunately, this cow had been treated and was well on the road to recovery! After a long day on the road in Muthiru, we said goodbye to our friends Edward and Francis who took a matatu back to Nairobi. It wasn’t too sad however, as we knew we’d be seeing them the next day when we took a tour of the vet school. On Thursday night, we were treated to an amazing “going away” party by our friend Jennifer in Meru. The food was amazing, the drinks were cold, and the company couldn’t have been better. It was the perfect way to end the best three weeks!
We were up bright and early this morning, Friday, to make the long drive back to Nairobi, where we were greeted at the vet school by our friends Maseka, Makena, Edward and Francis! We were so excited to see them all again and they gave us a grand tour of the campus, including the small and large animal clinics, the post-mortem room, the lecture theatres and the beautiful grounds. It’s such a big campus compared to ours, and of course much warmer.
As we sit in the Nairobi airport, waiting to board our flight to Zurich, we can’t believe that our three weeks have already come to an end. This rotation has been planned for and dreamed about since this time last year and the reality is better than we ever could have imagined. In addition to being an incredible clinical rotation full of Kenyan cows and calves, we met amazing people whom we will never forget, learned new words and customs, enjoyed new food, and saw stunning animals and landscapes. Thank you to Farmers Helping Farmers and John VanLeeuwen, AVC, UPEI, and our many supporters for making it happen. All that is left to say is, until next time Kenya, tutaonana!