This post is part of a series documenting a trip undertaken by a team of volunteers with World Vets who traveled to Arusha, Tanzania in June 2012 to provide veterinary care for the under (or should be say un-) served donkey population. For the full series of posts covering World Vets, please click here.
For our second day in Arusha, the team learned we were off to Nando Soito. We didn’t know what Nando Soito was, if it was a village, or a market, or a town. It was kind of none of the above, actually.
We piled into our cars and headed through town, past beeping cars and buses on their way to safari. Soon the exhaust and throngs of pedestrians and bicycles marking the center of tourist heavy Arusha Town gave way to more a more rural area.
Brick homes and scampering goats, spaced more generously than the homes in town.
On one side of the road, a dump, sitting sullenly under the morning sun. Pigs rooted through the piles in search of edibles.
A bit further down the road, the scenery turned more picturesque:
Past this, we entered the plains, farmland a little more indicative of the vastness of Africa than what we had seen up to this point.
And we drove down an endless dirt road, while people on the side of the road looked askance at us. Cars were unusual enough in this area, never mind cars full of mizungus. Livingstone stopped to ask a person a question, as we looked nervously at each other. Could this be the start of another “adventure?”
A few more minutes down the road, we pulled off to the side under the shade of a grove of trees known as a boma. “Need directions again?” we asked.
“No,” said Livingstone. “We’re here.”
We hadn’t passed a house, not even a small mud-walled hut, in at least 10 minutes of driving. “What’s out here?” we wondered.
Livingstone gestured to the boma.
The boma, a circular wall of trees that serves as a livestock pen, protection from elephants, or a safe gathering place. The Maasai had long used this as a place to wall in livestock, and someone at some point had figured, well, at least we know this is a good place to find animals so might as well build a chute here in case someone wants to treat them.
So there we stood, next to a wooden chute erected under the shade of the boma in the middle of a dusty expanse of nothingness. Across the street, a cornfield. And by the chute, a small gathering of donkeys, including the occasional, treasured white punda.
Because the World Vets team had turned up once before, late last year, word had gotten out that this particular group was reliable and provided a useful service. The Maasai who populated the miles of expanse around the area would come, those who had received word, on their way to market.
We had a few moments to ponder how to organize the day before the donkeys started to pile in. Unlike the market the previous day, the chute offered the advantage of funneling the donkeys in from the wide end into a single file line, sides exposed for easy treatment.
Rachel and Kyle, of course, sprayed:
Livingstone kept records of every donkey seen, all 260 that day:
Toccoa wrangled from the back end, trying to keep donkeys from backing up and crushing the little ones:
While Janet managed the front end, trying to figure out how to erect a barrier to keep the donkeys from crashing through while they were being treated.
It took a few tries before we figured out the optimum number of donkeys to put into the chute at one time. Too many, and they would start to panic and crush each other:
Too few, and they would start to look for alternate ways out, like through the side.
About seven at a time, it seemed, was the perfect number. Once we figured that out, things went a lot faster.
And we figured out how to keep them from bolting: a combination of sticks and rope in the front, and a stick in the back at the neck of the funnel to keep them from backing out.
Some of the wounds here were deeper than what we had seen the day before. It soon became clear that it was time to do a little M*A*S*H medicine. With Alana, Toccoa, Kyle, Rachel and James running full steam on the preventive care side, Rudy, Teri, Janet and Dr. Mushi pulled a few patients aside for more involved treatment.
Which you will get to hear all about in part 2 tomorrow.