Volunteer Stories

Andrew Clark

Zimbabwe

Southern Africa Farmer-to-Farmer

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Southern Africa Farmer-to-Farmer
Location of the project: Zimbabwe
Organization that sent the volunteer: CNFA


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

Dr. Clark is a passionate and self-driven volunteer who is committed to changing people’s lives by sharing his veterinary knowledge and skills acquired during 60-years’ work experience from across the globe.  During the current CNFA-implemented Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Southern Africa Program, he has twice offered his services to farmers and technical specialists in Zimbabwe and once in Madagascar.

Dr. Clark’s initial assignment in 2018 was to assist the F2F Zimbabwe team to develop a Country Project document focused on the livestock/dairy value chain. The second assignment was implemented in early 2020, when Dr. Clark trained farmers and veterinary professionals in diagnosis and management of Brucellosis. Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria which can cause decreased milk production, loss of young, infertility, and lameness in livestock. It can also be spread to humans, causing fever and gastrointestinal problems, among others.

Although the Brucellosis assignment was initially planned for a group of only 13 smallholder dairy farmers, Dr. Clark ended up training a total of 186 farmers in nine different locations of Umzingwane District, in Matabeleland South Province. This was done at the request of district extension personnel, who felt that the topic was very important and should be taught to more people than had been planned.

Although unexpected, Dr. Clark took this challenge with enthusiasm and good humor.  He became quickly admired by the different communities where he conducted trainings by demonstrating his extensive knowledge and skills, as well as excellent training skills. To demonstrate the degree of affection by the communities he worked with, they quickly named him “Khulu Mbuzi,” a Ndebele term which translates to “Grandpa Goat.” This nickname was derived from a combination of his age, as reflected by his well-kept grey beard, and the livestock lessons he was giving. As a way of influencing  the adoption of improved practices for sampling and achieving accurate test results for Brucellosis, Dr. Clark sourced equipment and materials from the U.S through his own networks which he donated to the laboratory of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS). His field trainings were  very practical and interesting to the participants. Among the training participants were officers from the national veterinary extension services who committed themselves to cascading the training to areas that had not been reached directly by Dr. Clark.  Dr. Clark also created time during his busy schedule to visit the headquarters of the DVS in Harare where he met three veterinary doctors and seven technicians and shared knowledge on the latest techniques in sampling and testing for brucellosis. He also toured the department’s laboratory facilities and advised a team which was led by the chief technician on ways of improving preservation of samples for reliable Brucellosis testing.

Following the trainings in Umzingwane District, Dr. Clark went on to facilitate a seminar on Brucellosis in the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) conference room in Harare, Zimbabwe. The seminar was attended by a total of 37 participants, including lecturers, students, input suppliers and veterinary practitioners who were members of the independent Veterinary Association of Zimbabwe. The members of the Association agreed on a way forward, including conducting a national survey on Brucellosis and developing a strategy for surveillance and control of the disease in the country.

Testimonial from the host - Village Head Mahluli Ndlovu

“Khulu Mbuzi (“Grandpa Goat”) will, for a long time, be remembered by the Umzingwane district communities he interacted with during his assignment as an engaging and energetic trainer who defied age and spent long hours briskly demonstrating animal handling and techniques for extracting samples and performing the card diagnostic test for Brucellosis. He is particularly revered for his exceptional knowledge on the subject of Brucellosis management and control, his ability and willingness to adapt to difficult field conditions, and his ability to explain the complex subject of Brucellosis, simplifying it to a level where it could easily be grasped and internalized by adults like ourselves. The training that was provided by Khulu Mbuzi is transformational and motivating to the extent that many of us adopted the practices that we learned and will be applying them to improve livestock production and productivity in our communities”.

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