Local veterinarian to discuss trip to Uganda today


WESTMINSTER -- Dr. Stephen Major had a mission in Africa and accomplished it. And now it’s time to share the story.

The veterinarian spent five weeks in Uganda earlier this year to set up the first Veterinarians Without Borders site in east Africa while staying with his daughter Pollaidh, who is in the Peace Corps. Major was tasked with educating locals on veterinary management skills and how they relate to better health, financial prosperity and sustainable agriculture. He got home on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and soon got convinced by his mother, a librarian at the Westminster West Public Library, to relate his experiences in a public setting.

Major is slated to begin a presentation about his trip today at 7 p.m., with a question-and-answer session to follow. He said his talk with last about an hour and a half and include slides from his adventure.

"Uganda is a rapidly growing country, with half the population under 15 years old," he told the Reformer. What is ironic about the country’s situation, he said, is that food is in short supply despite a very rich agricultural environment -- it has two growing seasons a year and very fertile soil. But small-scale farms are, unlike in the United States, are tremendously profitable and a great source of income that can be used by a family to send children to school.

"What I did over there was I taught a class of 26 people, essentially the talented young farmers from each village, and they were to bring back to their village the vet management skills that I was teaching so they could spread the knowledge," Major said. "The teaching opportunity worked out very well because of the quality of the students who came -- they were very enthusiastic."

Major said Uganda also consists of tropical diseases that need controlling and the management skills he taught can help quell those, as well as diseases that animals transmit to people, such as tuberculous, sleeping sickness and brucellosis.

Major is a veterinarian with the Green Mountain Bovine & Equine Clinic in West Chesterfield, N.H., and spends most of his time traveling to farms to treat animals in Windham County, Cheshire County (New Hampshire) and Franklin County (Massachusetts). While home, he gets from Point A to Point B with his car -- not the small motorcycle that added to his experience in Uganda.

"(The trip) gave me a great renewed faith in veterinary medicine as a profession," he said, "even though there high and lows points, as there would be in any development project."

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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