Serving the most vulnerable
    in rural Malawi
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In March, Gary & Bethany visited us from California as part of The Christian Veterinary Mission. It was an immensely valuable fortnight. They accomplished and taught so much, unfazed by the uncomfortable heat and basic facilities.   


The goat training included general health care, stock management, records, mating, kidding, kid care, nutrition, drugs and disease prevention —all very relevant stuff and it was great that our guys had opportunity to ask loads of questions. Gary also performed a post-mortem to show the anatomy of a goat, vaccinated and demonstrated hoof trimming, tubing kids and calculating drug dosages.  A verbal test at the end of the Course impressed Gary with what the team had learned and all were proud and delighted when he presented them with a Certificate each.  

Bethany—a specialist small animal vet—also taught a short course on rabbits, and together they demonstrated how to tattoo rabbits’ ears with ID information.


While Gary and Bethany were here we showed them other aspects of our work - we took them to Bwanali Village so they could witness the milk drop, the follow-on Likuni Phala programme, and rabbit projects. Some evenings we showed the Jesus film in outlying villages, visited agricultural projects, and lots else.

In the past we’ve often slimmed down the numbers in our goat herd as the dry season approaches because fresh “cut ‘n carry” greenstuff becomes increasingly difficult to source.  So we’ve decided to change our approach to feeding both goats and rabbits to a hay-based diet.


Unlike over here, you can’t buy hay in Malawi.  We have to send guys out to cut young grass early in the year after the rains, then dry it for storage later. Because Malawi only has one rainy season, the whole years supply has to be found and cut in just a few weeks, so it’s a race against time. The team’s efforts were greatly helped by Dave repairing the BUV, (basic utility vehicle) so while the milk and phala were distributed in Bwanali, others were touring the area cutting huge quantities of grass to dry into hay.  


This is swelled by our growing leucaena and glyricidia trees also to dry.


With huge protein deficiencies in most human diets, rabbits rate as a  valuable “fast food” - but only if looked after well.  We aim for our OHP facilities and management to be the best, and this quality of care and training passed on to the communities.


  



An industrious mother, struggling with 6 children was selected to receive another group of rabbits, and also a child-led family—two orphans still in school.  All were nominated by the Village Head as in particular need.





Livestock ….

Summer Report 2014

including Feb-March trip

Goats ….

Veterinary training

The goats are OK, but the breeding programme has faltered due to missed matings and our does not coming into season. Only 5 kids were born in the latest clutch of pregnancies and from them, just 3 males remain on site for distribution into the local community later, for stud/ stock improvement. Disappointing.  The one glimmer of encouragement is the pregnancy of Woyamba, our only pedigree saanen doe on site - and possibly in the country - now rather elderly.  But we’re  hoping for healthy offspring, crammed full of super genes to produce huge milk yield and reproductive vigour.



We were able to facilitate meetings with the “movers & shakers” of the veterinary world and were all horrified to hear that there are only      qualified vets in the whole of Malawi!  



We visited a Veterinary Research / Training Station, woefully under-resourced, spent time with the Assistant DADO (District Agricultural Development Officer), the Head of the Gov. Vet Dept  in the area and the District Health & Nutrition Officer.  We visited a milk bulking station, and chatted with the Veterinary Scout in charge of the local dipping tank—unused and full of stagnant water because there’s no resources for the chemicals needed.  

Finally we went to Blantyre and met with a mobile “vet” (unqualified) and were invited to look around the stock room of the main veterinary suppliers in the area.

   

Unfortunately, Gary and Bethany lost their final day on site because Blantyre (International) airport was suddenly closed due to potholes on the runway so we drove them all the way up to Lilongwe (7 hours away) to catch their flight home!


Life is rarely straightforward in Malawi!

Gary trains our goat team in goat care, health, and basic veterinary skills.

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Restructuring our rabbit dept was one of the main aims of our trip. All records were checked, individual rabbits and lines identified, and a plan for mating and shedding stock clarified. Ears were tattooed to ensure good crossbred matches were issued.

Rabbits ….

The first of the rabbits issued into the general community were given out.  2 females and a male were given to 12 year old Jonathan and his elderly guardian Janet, in Bwanali Village.  Jonathan is an orphan, both his parents died of AIDS-related disease, and he too is affected.  However, he’s so excited to be chosen to have rabbits and promises he will care for them well following the training given by OHP.


Progress will be monitored.

Feeding our livestock ….

Finding the resources to feed our livestock properly is always a practical challenge.

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This is page 3 of summer update 2014

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