We Are Actually Veterinarians!

After all the confusion of the evening meeting yesterday, today started with a little frustration as no one was quite sure what to prepare for, for how long, or what to expect from the day.

Waiting to head out

Waiting to head out
Breakfast was quick, and then the entire group of the Helvetas veterinary agents, the vet group from the Ministry and the 5 of us from VAST, clambered into the same small 4×4 and headed into the mountains to three different vaccination posts. Unfortunately the roads haven’t gotten any better and we were all sore and bruised from yesterday… sigh.

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Helvetas had poultry (Newcastle disease) and swine (classical swine fever) vaccination clinics set up in 3 different areas. We were working at the furthest one and then of course took the longest, so everyone else finished up their clinic early and had to wait for us.

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We ended up setting up and running a regular clinic – treating 142 animals altogether in 4.5 hours. Unexpectedly, the ratio was somewhat similar to last year: way more horses than anticipated, a few pigs,

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lots of cows and an insane number of small ruminants. Our teaching workshops will actually be tomorrow morning and Saturday morning.

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We also have another health clinic tomorrow afternoon, and since we did not anticipate what we are doing, we have to make some adjustments… always good to be flexible!

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It really is a good thing we are all able to roll with the punches, and that we all like each other. By now the frustration would have caused some bloodshed otherwise!

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Right now we are all starving… meals have been at awkward times and so we have not been eating properly (no one’s fault!)… so are daydreaming about food. Always a bad choice right before bed.
Anyway, hope that everyone is doing well!
Lots of love,
TRAJ

Travelling

After a little bit of a sleep in, a great workout and some breakfast, it was a little bit of a scramble to get our personal gear organised to leave PaP. Luckily all of the medical supplies had been packed yesterday, since we kind of lost track of time. Of course the biggest incentive to leaving was the news that there had been some uprisings that needed to be squashed.
Trying to get all of the gear for 6 people plus meds for 3 clinics into the Land Rover was a bit of a challenge even with strapping packs onto the roof. Trying to fit all of us into the vehicle was also interesting… everyone now feels a little bit closer to at least one member of the group. 

Stretching our legs

Stretching our legs
The first leg of the trip was not too bad, with beautiful scenery and interesting conversation. We stopped in Jacmel to pick up a huge ice block for keeping anthrax vaccinations cold (which the guy loading it on to the roof of the car simply carried on his head and then did a shoulder press/plyometric leap to place it in position… it was amazing), and then along the beach for lunch. 

Lunch on the beach

Lunch on the beach
The beach was beautiful, the waves were inviting, and the weather was perfect… which meant it was difficult to get back into the cramped car. If we had realised how bad the roads would be for the next 5 hours we may not have! Think the surface of the moon… after a particularly awful landslide… on a road created by individuals capable of walking up a 90 degree incline. Needless to say we were relieved to arrive, grateful to be in one piece, and astounded at the driver.

The fog was crazy

The fog was crazy
Once at the Helvetas project headquarters we were given about half an hour to settle into the amazing dorm rooms before heading over for a debriefing with the government vet and the Helvetas project coordinator. There is some very interesting work being done… but we’re unsure how they need to use us. It wound up being a very looooong meeting, and so dinner was a quick bowl of soup before heading over to have a hot (YAY!) shower before bed.
Lots of love…
TRAJ

Getting Organized

Wowsa…. we are excited about not having to wear a coat. 
So we heard that there was snow back home this week… we are melting in the heat. Not that anyone feels badly for us, we’re sure. ;P
So far we have mostly managed to avoid insane numbers of mosquito bites… however that is likely to change tomorrow when we head to Mare Rouge, and then on to Seguin. The areas are more thickly forested and at higher elevation… so Phillip keeps telling us that it will be cold as it is only going to be 23 degrees during the daytime and possibly 15 degrees Celsius at night… hahahahahaha… he doesn’t understand cold obviously.
So today we went and picked up meds…

Buying meds

Buying medsit was interesting trying to explain to the pharmacist that no, oxytetracycline is not penicillin or vitamins or dewormer or some other randomly coloured liquids sitting on the shelf. Or that we don’t need 8 different types of oxytetracycline because really…. they all do the same thing. Nor did we need multiple vials of cleaning products. Then the attempt to pay him was complicated as there was considerable confusion over whether or not the total cost was in Haitian dollars or goude (a difference of 5 times). We were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough money… and then couldn’t figure out how everything was so much more expensive. Then he belatedly told us it was in goude, which calmed everyone down somewhat.
After this exchange we went for a quick visit with our old friend Dr. Bob Joseph. This was highly successful but highly stressful as he opted to randomly use us to motivate his class to stay in school and not resort to less savoury methods of earning a living. This meant standing in front of the room to talk… which really only Amanda and Rick enjoyed… but Jasmine had to translate for them which caused much consternation. especially since Amanda’s short speech involved telling the audience that she specialised in exotic animals which Jasmine chose to first mention snakes (which are despised and feared due to voodoo here) and then had camels stuck in her head (because Phillip has started calling her the camel doctor)… needless to say the students were quite confused. Especially when she then said that Amanda also worked on sheep, birds, and sometimes cats and dogs. Then Rick fired them all up with a speech about how the future of Haiti was the students themselves and that only they could make a difference and fix all of their country’s problems… this was the spur for a couple of hard hitting political questions. Definitely some politicians in THAT class…
Onward to the map shop… ironically we got lost several times over the next hour trying to get to the map shop… it was hidden, kind of like in Harry Potter where you have to be a secret-keeper to know where it is. But we made it… and bought more maps than we will ever use in this time or our next lifetime… but at least it was all worthwhile.
By this point we were starving… so we decided to eat out. Of course at the slowest restaurant in PaP… where it takes 30 minutes to pour a glass of water, an additional 45 minutes to receive food for 2 people, and then 30 minutes for each additional person’s food. 

Enjoying our first taste of the award winning Haitian beer "Prestige"

Enjoying our first taste of the award winning Haitian beer “Prestige”Two and a half hours later Rick managed to eat (of course he was the hungriest…). Thankfully we now LOVE each other’s company so managed to entertain ourselves by questioning the level of iodine deficiency of the staff involved. 

Of course this also meant that by the time dinnertime arrived no one was hungry which meant a later than usual evening… it’s already 8:45pm and normally we are in bed by now!

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Too long at lunch meant that a number of our errands had to wait… hopefully we can get them done on the way to Mare Rouge.
Medications and supplies are packed for our trip and clinics – we leave at 9am in the morning. We are unsure about internet while we are away, but if we can we will continue to update, otherwise we will see you in a week!
Lots of love to all,
TRAJ

Loving the Roosters!

Roosters are great… when you are already awake. Of course the roosters in Haiti are very happy animals. They crow in the evening, they crow in the daytime, they crow because it has stopped raining, they crow because the power has come on… they alert us to all kinds of things! Right now they are happily alerting the world to the fact that they are alive. We should all have that attitude. 🙂
The dogs in the neighbourhood too are making themselves known… too bad Jasmine doesn’t have time to work on her PhD project! CIMG3026
So we have great news from the government… they approve our program so highly, that they would like to make us a partner with their official livestock promotion programme!! It’s always nice to have efforts recognised, even if they don’t come with financial assistance. At least this way we won’t get shut down. 🙂
Today is an organisational day… we will be buying meds for the trip and touching base with a number of contacts. Hopefully we have the opportunity to see a little of the city as well.
Yesterday was an arrival and introduction to society day. Surprisingly during the trip Jasmine was only stopped and searched once… Tyra was stopped and searched once… and then on arrival Jasmine got to explain what we were doing here. All in all very uneventful – THANKFULLY! Keep praying! 🙂

Can YOU find the baby? (hint... remember we are vets)

Can YOU find the baby? (hint… remember we are vets)

Stops to pick up various household items, a small argument at the grocery store, a disagreement over whether the new American bills are real or fake… and a goat curry for dinner rounded out the day. Almost like a regular day. 😉CIMG3021
Anyway… we should post before we lose power again – the electricity was off for a few days and finally came back on in the middle of the night so who knows when it will go off again. Lol… at least there is water and a generator for things like the fridge and fans.
We are all excited about the things to come! Hopefully we will get some pictures posted when the internet is a little less wonky.
Lots of love!!
TRAJ