KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Dec. 19, 2009) – Within eyesight of the Pakistani border, the California National Guard’s Agri-business Development Team conducted a veterinary civic action program in Naray district, Dec. 16-17.
The ADT partnered with local leaders to administer vaccinations and vitamin treatment to 462 animals outside a small U.S. forward operating base in northern Kunar province.
More than 100 local farmers brought their livestock to the event to get treatment and information. The event was aimed at fostering a positive relationship between Coalition forces, government leaders and the district people.
U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Flynn of Burney, Calif., provided each animal a health assessment using an approved number-conditioning system to document and check the animal’s overall health before moving them to holding pens for vaccinations.
“We are here to vaccinate the villager’s animals against anthrax, rabies and eight-way clostridials,” Flynn said. “This helps develop relationships. We are here to help and they see that.”
The ADT teamed up with Afghan elders, military-aged men and children from the surrounding villages to help set up the holding pens, assist with the vaccinations and clean up the site when done. The mobile clinic allowed the ADT to train eight local Afghans on how to properly administer future vaccination and assisted with corralling animals that tried to escape.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Max Velte, ADT deputy commander from Sacramento, Calif., said this exercise was a collaborative partnership with local leaders and elders from the very beginning.
“We had a good mix of locals from the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, local vet techs and government leadership from Naray, and we were further supported by the Afghan Vet Association from Jalalabad. The partnership went great,” Velte said.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Terry Lucas, ADT large animal technician from Sacramento, Calif., said the VETCAP was important for fostering positive relationships.
“I think this is great. They hold their animals to a pretty high standard,” Lucas said. “This is the way to build relationships.”
The process started early in the morning, and cow-by-cow and goat-by-goat it continued well into the evening.
Hajji Shadifullah, Nary district line director for agriculture, said he likes working with the ADT because it benefits the people.
“I like to work with the Coalition forces because they help us and they help the people everywhere,” Shadifullah said.
Shadifullah said in an area where there are no cell phones, radios and few have electricity, farm animals are the only currency, and healthy animals mean increased wealth.
“We do not have any other companies that are working (here) and we have no money, so livestock is very important to the people,” Shadifullah said.
The ADT’s goal for the VETCAP was to help the local farmers increase the health of their herds, and ultimately the longevity and resale of their animals.
In addition to the vaccinations and training, villagers who attended received a small radio, extra medication for their animals to maintain the shots and information written in Pashto to help stress the importance of proper medication for healthy animals.
The ADT is also planning future VETCAPs in the area to benefit the local population.
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