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Keeping the oxen healthy

rod_01After reading in the last issue of AMDG Express about Michael Hanly’s bee-keeping project in Malawi, Richard O’Dwyer plans a workshop in Southern Sudan to get something similar under way. AMDG Express brought the two pioneers together by contacting Michael (son of the much loved Belvedere teacher Willie Hanly, now 94) in Dublin where he works for Concern. He put Richard in touch with the agricultural advisor for Concern in Uganda, and the hope is that a workshop in Southern Sudan will enable Richard to launch a bee-keeping project for the local ladies. Richard gives the flavour of his worries in a recent letter, specifically noting his concern that the oxen project in the Lobone Payam district would survive when JRS withdraws in 2012. Read his letter below. Our picture shows students at a JRS-initiated project in Lobone Payam.

I have had a very busy few days.  I visited the people of Lomarati yesterday to say Mass. As we reached the village in the JRS Land Cruiser, we passed the first of our newly constructed oxen sheds. I could not have felt more delighted if we had passed a spanking new building on O’Connell Street!

Based on advice from the vet unit of our Diocese in Torit, I worked up a couple of drawings, and here it was!  My plan is to set up a very basic agricultural co-operative. Otherwise, I believe the oxen project may fail when JRS withdraws from Lobone Payam (District) in 2012. Dermot McKenna kindly put me in touch with a man called Seamus O’Donohoe, who is the President of ICOS, the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society and he has offered valuable advice, as did Dermot himself. And thanks to AMDG Express  for contacting Michael Hanly for me; he is putting me in touch with the agricultural advisor for Concern in Uganda.

I have settled in well here again. Mind you, there are tensions here at the project management level, which are affecting morale. However, I will stay focussed on setting up the co-op and the bee-keeping for our local ladies! My biggest challenge at the moment is to keep the oxen healthy.

We have to bring in a vet from Uganda all the time as there is no local vet available. Sometimes he has bigger fish to fry!  He has obligations to his fellow Ugandans as the district veterinary officer in Lokung, which is just across the border from us in Uganda. In the last 5 years, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, GoSS, the Government of South Sudan has let down its people badly in failing to provide basic medical, veterinary, agricultural services at a local level. At the same time, government ministers have managed to build huge private houses for themselves in Juba that would not look out of place on Ailesbury Road!