Opinion: OVC students go trekking without borders

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

  • L to R: Jessica Gonzalez (4th year OVC), Andrew Wiskin and Doris Leung (1st year OVC)

    L to R: Jessica Gonzalez (4th year OVC), Andrew Wiskin and Doris Leung (1st year OVC)

Written by Doris Leung

From a pool of veterinary students that applied, only a few were selected across Canada to participate in the student summer program offered by Veterinarians Without Borders. Of the 14 vet students that were accepted, 3 hailed from Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

Veterinarians Without Borders/ Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VWB-VSF) is a Canadian-based charitable organization with a mission to work for, and with communities in need to foster the health of animals, people and the environment. The organization was established in 2005 by Dr. David Waltner-Toews, a faculty member in the department of Population Medicine at the OVC.

Thus far, the organization has collaborated work with governments, educational institutions, various NGO’s, local communities, farmers’ groups, and international agencies. Together, the goal is to tackle root-cause issues that are affecting public health, animal health, as well as ecosystem health in developing countries around the world.

Each OVC student was selected based on their motivation to work in an animal and public health position with global dimensions. Important issues that will be addressed in the projects include: increasing food security, identifying emerging diseases between animals and humans, reducing poverty among villagers, working towards sustainable livelihoods/ agriculture, securing quality education, etc.

Although the projects may differ with respect to the region and animals, the student program ultimately allows the veterinary student to train and educate future animal health workers at a local village level. Through education and increased awareness, the projects will be self-persisting, and will benefit and improve the welfare of both humans and animals.

Short summaries of the different projects/regions the OVC students will be involved with this summer is highlighted below.

Project Uganda – Jessica Gonzalez

Jessica will be involved in a project that partners with another NGO called “Foundation for Aid Orphaned Children” to teach women from HIV AIDS affected households in Mbarara, Uganda sustainable agricultural and health practices such as HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, and health management through good nutrition. There will be a microcredit program in operation (goat pass-on scheme) where Jessica will provide initial training to women and instruct them in topics of how to take better care of their animals.



Project Tanzania – Andrew Wiskin

The objective of this program is to improve the management of poultry in the region of Ilima and thereby provide a sustainable resource that results in improved nutrition and income. Andrew will be providing education and training to farmers on basic poultry production that will provide them with better access to meat and eggs. This will improve the nutrition status of the family.  Families in this region are protein-starved so they tend to give extra protein to the children when it is available.  The potential for increased income from sales of chicken and eggs means money for school fees for their children.


Project Ghana – Doris Leung

Doris will be travelling to the Wa village in Ghana to improve food security. She will be conducting educational sessions that will allow villagers to gain insight and understand basic livestock husbandry, nutrition, and animal health to raise better-producing animals. She will be investigating methods of developing sustainable livestock production practices. Villagers will positively gain economically (by selling heavier weight livestock) and nutritionally by having better quality/livelier chicken/guinea fowl to consume.


Doris Leung is the junior merchandising director with the Central Veterinary Students Association

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