March 2021: Why we do what we do in Uganda
AKI News-March 2021
Of course, to really get a feeling for a situation, it’s best to see it in person, but in lieu of that, especially during this past year+ of covid-19, we’ve had to find other ways of seeing and understanding. I hope the information below gives you a feel for what it’s actually like to be with our Partner Organizations in Uganda, and a better idea of what they do, their challenges, and their remarkable efforts.
Of the 1000s of pictures I have taken of Uganda SPCA’s work, and the 1000s more pictures I’ve been sent over the years, I was trying to think of which recent picture best conveys the impact that the USPCA has. Rather than select a single dog or cat, a litter of kittens or puppies (plenty to choose from since each year the USPCA rescues well over 500 animals and helps 1000s in total), I chose the picture above that I took last week while at The Haven when 50 to 60 2nd year Makerere University vet students spent the day there to get practical experience in shelter medicine and the challenges of operating a shelter in Uganda.
It was so exciting to see how interested and enthusiastic the students were, and in particular, to see a real love for cats and dogs-I saw it in the eyes and actions of a handful of the students. It may not seem unusual to you to see that gleam of dog and cat love in the eyes of vet students - or you may think it’s unusual that so few of the students have it, but believe me, a “handful” is a great improvement over the past! Vet students (in many African countries) aren’t used to handling cats and dogs. And even by the time they graduate, they still haven’t gotten accustomed to them. This is just one reason that the USPCA is so important-it’s the only opportunity for the Makerere vet students to learn about cat and dog rescue, care, and rehabilitation. (And of course, a larger Haven shelter, better set up for learning experiences like this, would be ideal….more about land purchase status next month). Imagine the effect visits like this will have now and into the future for animal welfare and small animal care in Uganda.
But the most remarkable thing-something that’s visible every time you visit The Haven-is the staff. The rescues they undertake are breath-taking, sometimes due to the conditions of the animals, sometimes the situations (kitties falling down pit latrines; litters of puppies born in culverts). The care they give to the animals at the shelter is heartwarming, especially given the high number of animals at The Haven and the many who need intensive care and kindness. And it’s even more remarkable when you know of USPCA’s budgetary limitations, which translate to limited salaries (compared to a shelter worker’s salary in the US, which I know ranges widely depending on the state, city/town, and financial arrangements, less than 10% of a US shelter worker’s salary would not be an underestimate.)
I think you might be surprised to learn of the USPCA’s budget situation (which could be considered at crisis stage)-based on the work they do every day all day (we always tell Alex to shut off his phone so he can get a night’s rest, but he won’t). I’d be happy to discuss with you the details and opportunities to help the USPCA, which has been hit hard this past year (more abandoned animals, fewer donations due to the covid situation). Get in touch with me or DONATE HERE TO THE USPCA
Bam Animal Clinics-Uganda
This is Dr. David Balondemu on a day a few weeks ago when we met at the USPCA Haven. David is the founder & director of Bam Animal Clinics in Iganga, Uganda, AKI’s most recent Partner Organization addition (in January 2020). Specifically, we support Bam’s donkey welfare work in eastern Uganda.
But Bam also helps dogs and cats in and around Iganga, which is about three hours from Kampala. David grew up in an animal loving family and loved all animals from early in life. David is a vet and originally he was attracted to animal welfare because he saw how -far too often- dogs were blamed for having rabies without any proof, and then were usually killed in ways that are inconceivable to most of us. He envisioned animal welfare concepts and the need for animal advocacy as a response to this cruelty. And Bam Animal Clinics was born.
One of the challenges of working in the Iganga area and in villages in eastern Uganda is that these communities had never before been exposed to animal advocacy and animal welfare. Also, the communities are relatively poor and most people don’t have money to pay for services, let alone donate to an animal welfare organization. Also, Bam is located in an area where there are very few expats (who are often relied upon to get an animal welfare organization off the ground and to help them connect to funding opportunities). Of course, these challenges are not unique to Bam and Iganga/eastern Uganda, they are pretty typical of the challenges most animal welfare organizations in Africa face.
We were drawn to Bam Animal Clinics because of the way they work: Bam partners with District Veterinary Officers, a part of government, DVOs are often based in remote areas, and are usually severely constrained by lack of funds and training in animal welfare; Bam reaches remote areas (and through the DVO partnerships, they have an ongoing presence in these areas), where they teach, train, and listen and include everyone who is interested in learning more about animal care.
Also, Bam is the lead in a CPD-continuing professional development-project, where they provide training for vets (including DVOs) in animal welfare and related topics-and through this program, they reach all districts in Uganda-imagine the impact on animal welfare that they can have. But while Bam receives funding for the CPD program, their small animal welfare work receives none; the only thing constraining Bam is financial support. In a district of about 500,000 people (Iganga District) this results in a huge gap in small animal care and welfare for this part of Uganda (where about 65% of the people live below the poverty line). With your help, we can expand our support for Bam to small animal welfare as well as donkey care and welfare.
Next month visit Liberia Animal Welfare & Conservation Society and Kingston Community Animal Welfare with us and find out more about their challenges and efforts to address them, why their work is so critical, and our support for these organizations. (Pictured below, an AKI-funded LAWCS community clinic, where LAWCS offers basic animal care, mainly de-worming, flea and tick control, mange care, and rabies and parvovirus vaccinations-and animal care information-in remote communities, where there is no accessible vet care).
We published three new AKI Blog posts in March: Two are from 2020 Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grantees who completed their grant projects, and one is an update from a 2020 Grantee about their ongoing work.
Featured Friends at the Nairobi Feline Sanctuary - NFS was one of our 2020 Grantees; with funding from AKI, they built a spay/neuter clinic on the NFS site, a kitty play area (pictured below with NFS kitty Bruce), and they improved the kitty sleep area. In this article, NFS reports on four rescued kitties. NFS offers a permanent home unless perfect adoptive homes are found, not easy to do in Nairobi. (NFS is benefiting from our Friendly Audit program as well - we’ve placed a volunteer with them to help develop documents for the sanctuary (e.g., adoption application, pamphlet about NFS and good cat care) and to create a website.)
Together with Tikobane Trust-Zimbabwe, a success for donkeys - Tikobane completed their 2020 AKI grant project, making just over 100 humane harnesses and repairing almost 100 harnesses already in use. They trained about 110 donkey owners on how to use the humane harness, and trained a select group of people to make humane harnesses. (Tikobane is also benefiting from our Friendly Audit program. A volunteer has created a website for Tikobane.)
One Health & Development Initiative (Nigeria): innovative grant project wraps up successfully - This grant helped OHDI create a new model for vet care/consultation in Nigeria via Whatsapp and other messaging platforms and by providing other online services. OHDI hopes to scale-up this model to other communities where there is little to no access to animal health services due to remote locations and low-income status and where residents are eager for OHDI’s training and veterinary resources.
Together with OHDI, our 2020 grantee from Cameroon-Animal Welfare Society, and Partner Bam Animal Clinics, we partnered on a winning grant proposal to Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources to “Develop a Compelling Case to Raise Consciousness of Animal Welfare among Stakeholders in Africa.” OHDI’s Dr. Kiki is the lead; AKI will receive no funding from this grant, but it’s an amazing opportunity for all of us to have real impact in animal welfare continent-wide. We’ll update you about this in upcoming newsletters.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT-YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR ANIMALS IN POOR COUNTRIES
100% of your donations go to AKI-supported organizations, our Partner Organizations in 9 countries: Uganda (2 partners), Tanzania, South Sudan, Namibia (2 partners), Liberia, Ghana, Armenia, Jamaica, and Honduras; and AKI's 2020 Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant Recipients who work in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (2 grantees), Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Please help us get the word out about AKI by forwarding this message to your friends and family who love animals. Please stay safe and healthy. With Gratitude, Karen Menczer, Founder & Director & the AKI Board