RwandaNow Needs Our help
Re: my work - it is a rather long and tedious story, but the short version is that, after about 5 years of doing various international gigs, I got appointed as the Mountain Gorilla Vet - job of a lifetime (my background is zoo and exotics with a touch of legal policy thrown in for fun). Did that for a while and then saw the need to set up a wildlife sanctuary - govt here did start to confiscate animals being sold on the street - birds mostly, but had no place to put them - so I took them and got them fostered. Well, in this part of the world, a sanctuary can't simply be a sanctuary - what is really needed here is awareness building - with no zoos or sanctuaries, and 3 national parks that locals don't visit, it became imperative that we create an institution that serves the needs of the public, as well as, the animals. Thus, began RwandaSEC. It has been a struggle regards funding cuz most donors here are interested in people reconciliation and such - well, we are coming up on the 17th year since the genocide and Rwanda is not in an emergency - we are truly in a development phase. Anyway, in light of our challenges in raising funds, we decided to create our own funding stream - me doing vet work and trying my damnedest to gauge all the expats, and making yogurt and cheese. We have diversified now and are growing veg and fruits, making tomato sauce for the best pizzeria in the country, and hoping to get into dehydration activities.
So, we are developing our model farm, along with the wildlife sanctuary - on a wetland, organizing a women's dairy goat cooperative - no capacity here with dairy goats so this is all new - but we have over 200 women from the community signed up. I have learned that give-aways don't last so the members of the cooperative are gunna have to invest in these goats - we will do the training, we will help their record-keeping, and we will demonstrate that with healthy goats people make more profit. We buy the milk and process it. We also are doing laying hens so we can further diversify our product line - lemon curd, ice cream and on and on.
We will eventually hold farmers workshops on things like composting and organic methodologies. We want to demonstrate alternative energy schemes like solar and wind, but they beeee mighty expensive. Also doing biogas - hoping to convert a diesel generator into a methane gas user.
Creating the first true vet hospital in the country is extremely important - we built a 3 room building where we can do surgery, see patients, and do some lab work and radiology. All of this is, of course, dependent on getting proper equipment - I have had some items donated, but it is a nitemare getting the equipment over here - the airlines aren't nearly as compassionate and friendly as before so I am most open to ideas about how to get stuff here - in Rwanda, we don't make anything (that is until RwandaSEC/RwandaNOW is up and running) so everything is imported. We don't have folks that know how to work with stainless steel - for instance. Anyway, it makes everything horribly expensive and hard to get. Altho there are lots of animals in this country all meds are really geared toward humans so getting vet drugs is difficult.
I am absolutely thrilled with the notion of getting some organized help - please, lets see where we can take your idea - we are in such desperate need of everything - drugs, specialists, equipment - all of it. I do have some surgery packs and I stay as sterile as possible, but it is difficult on the patio table. I haven't had any infections as yet so either I'm doing ok or these critters are mighty hardy - think it might be both. Anyway, I welcome your help and appreciate your commitment - tell me what I need to do to get you more involved!
Jode Garbe, DVM, JD
Rwanda Wildlife Sanctuary & Science Education Center (RwandaSEC/RwandaNOW)
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Last modified: May 21, 2011 .