Nikki Wright, a third year veterinary student at the University of Pennsylvania and if Foundation volunteer has recently been selected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from a pool of hundreds of medical and veterinary medical students as a 2012 Hubert Global Health Fellow.
Nikki has been assigned to work on an epidemiology project in Haiti, where she will be assisting a team of epidemiologists in their efforts to study the distribution and transmission of Rabies in humans and dogs. Nikki plans to stay in Haiti after completing the fellowship term to begin implementing a sustainable goat farm and education center which will serve as the basis for a goat micro-lending program in Thibeau.
Nikki and her project partner Lisa Gretebeck have been working on this unique project in collaboration with if Foundation country directors Edlyne Cange and Jean Magnus Regis since Nikki’s first trip to Haiti in September with World Vets.
The main objective of this project is to establish a goat training center in northern Haiti. The Center will provide education and training in sustainable goat management, improve the genetics of the local goat population while promoting financial independence and community commerce. In this way, the Center will further contribute to improving environmental management, food production, animal health, and human health across the globe.
The project site is located in the community of Coronel-Millot adjacent to the iF headquarters in Thibeau. A hurricane-resistant raised goat house with slanted slatted floors will be built to house 20 Indigenous Alpine blend female goats that we will purchase from a reputable Hinche goat farm. Bucks from the Boer blend line of goats will be borrowed from a local veterinarian in Haiti. Farming to produce a mix of forage including tree legumes, grasses, and herbs that can be harvested to provide feed for the animals has already been implemented. Slight renovations will be made to the existing building on the land producing a large classroom, clinical laboratory, pharmacy, storage facility, bathroom, office space, and a small living area with a bed for the use of farm staff and interns.
Edlyne and Magnus’ longstanding relationship with the community of Thibeau will enable them to select five families based on skill set, commitment, and financial need who will serve as the initial interns at the goat center. A head veterinary specialist will be carefully chosen and trained to be responsible for the program. Dr. Edner Rosier, a local Haitian veterinarian with experience training veterinary personnel, will help with all trainings. The group will work together in preparation for the first five families to participate in the farm training internship program. The internship will include basic goat husbandry and veterinary training with an emphasis on the importance of reproductive principles, parasite management, and nutrition. It will consist of rotating shifts at the center, where the family will care for the herd from the time of breeding, through kidding, and weaning. Upon successful completion of their internship, each of the 5 families will be given at least 1 bred female goat and a weanling kid to take back and raise on their own land.
The families will adhere to the center’s established husbandry and medical plan. Due to land constraints on individual family properties, they will be trained to implement an alternative ‘rotational grazing’ system that is commonly used by the locals. In this system the animals are taken to public grasslands, tied up for the day to graze, offered water and moved to a new spot at some point during the day, and then brought back to the home at the end of the day. Owning this small herd will empower the family by providing a source of meat, hide, and income enabling them to feed their family and send their children to school. The families will agree to give one goat back to the center by the time of 18 months from their receipt of their first animals. With each weaning of our replacement herd, goats will be distributed to a new set of intern families upon completion of their own six-month internship. The program will continue in this fashion, growing indefinitely while supporting families, the local economy, and the community as a whole.
The main goal of this project is to be completely self-sustainable and tailored to the unique culture and values of Thibeau. The short-term success of the program will be analyzed via qualitative interviews and the successful completion of at least two breeding cycle internships. The iF Foundation is proud to be a collaborative partner with Nikki and Lisa on this unique approach to alleviating poverty.