The team of veterinary students and veterinarians traveled to the town of Rumuruti, Kenya, about 30 miles from the equator. We were working with the Samburu tribe, a pastoral people group that depends on their animals for everything. This tribe is semi-nomadic and will travel long distances looking for adequate grazing for their animals. Our goal was to improve the health of the animals, thus improving the health of the Samburu and increasing the source of income for the tribe.
Our work days started as soon as we jumped out of the vans. We greeted the waiting people and were lead to a boma where several hundred sheep and goats were waiting. A boma is a corral-type holding area made from tree or bush branches, many of which contain very long, sharp thorns.
All animals were vaccinated for sheep and goat pox and dewormed. Additional services included spraying for ticks, treating for mange, and treating any individual sick or injured animals in the herd. Many of the diseases that cause illness in the animals are caused by ticks so teaching tick control to the Samburu was essential. We did not have access to the diagnostics that are available in a regular veterinary practice including routine blood work and special tests. The students had only their eyes and hands to examine the animals and determine a diagnosis. The students blossomed as they gained confidence in their skills and treatment decisions.
This trip is also Christ-centered as we sought to show God’s love through our actions and actively encourage the new believers in the tribe. As a result, over 30,000 animals were treated in one week with countless lives changed physically and spiritually.
Assistant Professor in Theriogenology
Department of Clinical Sciences