Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bitter sweet ending

This is our farewell blog entry. SO much has happened in the last few weeks of our project, but unfortunately we had no electricity for a long period of time and had to conserve our computer time for report writing, etc.

We have all left Mbarara: Hershel and Rocky are in Tanzania right now and I am currently in Kampala. It is so strange to be away from our ‘home’ for the past 2 months. We had a wonderful time there and I am so sad to be leaving my friends back in Mbarara.

The last weekend was so good: we spent some time preparing to give out goats, and Leanne and Laura started giving out goats. We were also fortunate that Hilda was able to organize some children from the parishes to come and we gave them some clothes, shoes, frisbees and letters from children in Canada. It was incredible: no matter what size of shoe we gave a child to try on, they said it fit immediately, even if it was obviously too large or too small. They were also very excited to play with the Frisbees and were keen to write letters back to the kids in Canada. I think it was a wonderful experience.

We also finished up working with the paravets, having the supertrainers meet some of our partners in town and do a training session at NARO. They were excited, as was I, about partnering with an organization that they could share information with, and do training sessions with in the future when we leave.

I also spoke with Dr. Lagu Charles, the vet at NARO, and he advised me that in the future we should make sure that we talk to the paravets and beneficiaries first before we start a project. He suggested that we ask them how it can be sustainable and how they will carry on the work after we leave, so that they take some ownership of the work. Otherwise, he said that they would think it is the mzungu’s work and nothing would be done after we leave. I think we emphasized this to the paravets, but that it is a key point to pass on to future Vets Without Borders volunteers.

Lastly, in the past few weeks we have experienced Ugandan generosity and hospitality. We were invited to several places for dinner, mostly at the paravets, and they made so much delicious food. And it was very special food, as we were served meat which most people eat once a week, if that. On top of that, they all had gifts for us. It was so touching, and I was moved by their formal speeches to wish us farewell.

It is beyond words how much the people here have touched our lives. We all have such good memories to take away with us, and aspirations to keep in contact and possibly return, hopefully soon, to see everyone again.

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