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April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Each week this month, we'll be featuring new perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.
Volunteers veterinarians Jeff Wyatt (from Seneca Park Zoo) and Andrew Winterborn (from Queen's University) just recently returned from their third trip ASRI in late February. During their time on-site, they worked to mentor Ibu Setiawati and Jili to build capacity for healthy goats and cattle.
Health In Harmony's mantra, “Saving Rain Forests with a Stethoscope,” takes on an expanded meaning with our volunteer veterinary mentoring program for goat and cattle health. From our first visit three years ago to the third one this past February, we have realized the value of Kinari's "radical listening" approach for implementing a sustainable herd health, preventive medicine program for the goats and cattle enrolled in the Goats for Widows and Organic Farmers initiatives.
Our herd health mentoring days often began on motorcycles taking us over an hour away down muddy trails and roadways to villages on the perimeter of the forest. Helmets with face shields were a must to see our way forward running interference against the splashing mud and rain. Face shield wiper blades would have been useful. We biked to the furthest village out and "village-hopped" the rest of the day, visiting goats, cattle, widows, and farmers all along the way. Crowds of all ages gathered in anticipation of an entertaining show, especially as we wrangled the occasional unruly breeding bull. During a village visit, one of the widow's daughters approached our veterinary team asking for medical help for her mother. Fortunately the volunteer physician accompanying us on our ambulatory veterinary team met with the widow on her front porch, providing comforting guidance to visit the ASRI Clinic as we examined her goats. What an inspiring "one medicine" experience mentoring and assisting with health care of families and the goats and cattle they cherish. Just before beginning the motorcycle journey back home, we heard an orangutan make a long call from far away... which we interpreted as a "thank you" from the forest.
Dr. Kinari Webb created a graph representing the data collected by Jeff and Andrew while they were volunteering, showing the body score of the goats. We are happy to see such improvement thanks to Jeff and Andrew's work!
Jeff and Andrew's service has helped support and strengthen the Goats for Widows and Sustainable Agriculture programs at ASRI. But they need your help to continue providing sustainable alternative livelihoods to the communities living around Gunung Palung National Park. Donate today. To read previous Volunteer Voice reflections, click here.