At the end of April, after working in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for 8 days, I spent a couple of days in Arusha with Mbwa wa Africa, AKI's newest partner organization (as of January 2017). Mbwa wa Africa is a place of deep caring and compassion. A visit to the shelter offers a vision of what a kinder gentler world would look like. Thank you to Sandra and Jens (and the dogs and cats) for hosting me!
I knew so much about the cats and dogs that MwA has rescued, rehabilitated (physically and emotionally), and re-homed. But at the time of my visit, I wasn't sure who would still be at the shelter and who had already found homes.
By the time I visited Mbwa wa Africa on April 23, Tom (pictures above) had already recovered from tick fever and was back with his owner, Alyce. Alyce had brought 7-year old Tom to an MwA spay/neuter clinic because she was concerned about him. He was very weak, pale, cold, and skinny, and at the clinic, he was diagnosed with tick fever. Tom was put on fluids to keep him hydrated, but he was steadily going down hill to the point where he couldn't get up and Alyce agreed that the vet should put him out of his misery. But when it came time, Tom's eyes made everyone re-think the decision. Instead, they made a nice warm bed at the shelter (pictures below), made chicken soup for Tom, and decided to hold out until his antibiotic meds were finished. Amazingly, that day, he started to eat again and on the 2nd day, he stood up, a bit unsteady, but he was standing! Two weeks after he arrived at MwA, Tom was a healthy dog (2nd picture below), and he was returned to Alyce, who was joyful and can't say enough thank yous to MwA!
Minou & Titus
I did get to meet little Minou and Titus (pictures below). And our meeting was even better knowing that they will soon be moving to England with an MwA volunteer, who decided she just can't be separated from them! Minou had arrived at the MwA shelter in early March, 12 weeks old and only 1 of her legs was functional. When I met her, 1 leg had recently been amputated, but 2 are now in good shape--she doesn't seem to notice that her other 2 legs aren't.
Malkia was staying in the MwA guest house, so I didn't get to meet her. When Malkia's owner left for Kenya, she left Malkia with Merlino Vets (the clinic that MwA works with), to do the paperwork to send her to Kenya. And then on April 20, she called Merlino Clinic to tell them that pets are not allowed in her new flat and to put Malkia out on the street! Malkia had always been an indoor kitty and would never have survived on the streets of Arusha. So Merlino contacted MwA, who came to her rescue. Since kitty Minou had only recently gone through major surgery and needed a stress-free environment, MwA decided to put Malkia in the guest house with Anika (picture below).
I was sure I'd get to meet Billy Bob, who in mid-February, arrived at the MwA after being hit by a car. The person who hit him is an animal lover, and was able to catch him and bring him to the vet. Sadly, his injuries were too severe and his left hind leg was amputated that day. He was a street pup, with no home, so Merlino looked to MwA for help.
Since then, he had been at the shelter, but 1 day in March, turned into Billy Bob's luckiest day. A visitor to the shelter was looking for a dog who would help keep the monkeys at his farm at bay. He decided that dog Rosa would be perfect in that job. Then Billy Bob came up to greet him and it was love at first sight. He took them both home! And that's why I didn't get to meet Billy Bob.
I had heard about this little dog with the big name, Cesar, and I did get to meet him! At only 9 weeks old, this street pup wandered into the office of a dog-friendly person, who contacted MwA. When he arrived at the shelter, he was a bit overwhelmed by the 30+ MwA dog pack, but that didn't last long! He stood his ground, was accepted by the group, and now he's as confident as any well-adjusted puppy.
I was lucky, while I was at MwA, Bossi was still there, but very soon after I left, he was returned to his young owner Josha, after 2 months at the shelter. In February, Josha had carried his little dog in his arms for several kilometers to get him to the MwA clinic (picture below), where he was diagnosed with a prolapse and immediately underwent surgery. He was then moved to the shelter for further treatment and recovery.
MwA returned Bossi to Josha, who couldn't believe his eyes--Bossi had gotten big and healthy and they were both really excited to be reunited!
3 Puppies Arrive on Sunday
I had a chance to witness so much love and caring while at MwA. The volunteers clearly love the cats and dogs, and Sandra and Jens (founders, managers, caretakers, nurse, etc. etc.) and Maureen (Humane Education volunteer) are dedicated beyond belief.
So when Rebecca came to the shelter with these tiny pups (pictures above), brothers Hugo and Eddie, I wasn't surprised when Sandra took them in with a smile, got them cleaned and warm, and fed. Even though she knew they'd require feedings every few hours, and she had about 30 other puppies and dogs to care for, she wouldn't turn them away. The other 6 puppies in the litter were doing well, but these 2 guys were failing, and Sandra knew she could give them what they needed.
While we were still dealing with these puppies, Sandra and Jens' neighbor came to the shelter because his 8 week-old puppy Bouncer (picture below) had been kicked by a goat. His leg was broken (later, an x-ray showed that the only option will be an amputation). But bad quickly became worse when his wobbly movements and strange behavior around food indicated that he had worms developing in his brain. When this happens, the dog goes mad. Bouncer even had an epileptic fit. But he was treated and is fine now. The amputation is scheduled for next Friday and meanwhile, he's having a great time with his 2 little brothers who arrived that very same day.
Very sadly, one dog I had hoped to meet but didn't is Salsa (picture below). After he recovered from his first stoke, he started struggling more and more and most likely had repeated strokes.
In the 9 months he had been at the Mbwa wa Africa shelter, after being found at the garbage dump, he had grown into a strong dog. Despite his broken back and spastic legs he invented many ways of walking, jumping, getting where he wanted to go, but after the strokes, even with help, eating and drinking were barely possible and he could only lay on his right side. So on April 2, after a nice, sunny morning playing in the long grass with all his friends, destroying a blanket and getting lots of love and meat soup, Sandra, Jens, and his other friends said good bye to their beloved boy.
Need for Funding
I would love to get some monthly donors for Mbwa wa Africa so that Sandra and Jens can be confident that some of their costs are covered, and they can run their shelter and community work without constant financial concerns. While on the "tourist trail," Arusha is still a small town, tourists don't hang around long, and a significant number of residents are very poor. Residents so rely on Mbwa wa Africa, but are unable to cover the cost of care, and most are certainly unable to donate.
On the AKI website, you can read more about Sandra, Jens, the other shelter staff/volunteers, and about what MwA does--and their amazing results, and you can designate them for 100% of your donation to AKI, https://www.animal-kind.org/tanzania-mbwa
Here are some pictures from my visit to Mbwa wa Africa, I hope you enjoy them. If you're going to be traveling to Arusha, Tanzania, let us know if you'd like to visit the shelter--it may turn out to be the highlight of your trip to Tanzania, as it was with mine.