The Nepal Veterinary School Project
By Barry Burtis D.V.MIn April, 2006, along with one of my business partners, Dr. Ron Fox, I visited Nepal. In many, many ways it was a very memorable trip. We experienced a culture very different from our own. We saw spectacular mountain vistas on our journey to Mt. Everest Base Camp. We tasted new foods and learned new words. However, as often is the case, in my experience, meeting new people and making new friends is often the best part of travel.
Our visit to Nepal has also resulted in continuing efforts to assist some of our new friends, as well as other people and animals in that country. After our trek in the Himalayas, we travelled south from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to visit the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science in Rampur. It was there that we visited the veterinary school associated with Tribhuvan University. We spoke to the students about the veterinary profession in Canada. We met the faculty, learned about their training, saw their dedication to teaching veterinary medicine and came to understand some of the challenges of training future veterinarians in one of the poorest countries in the world.
We also realized that every year veterinarians in Canada were throwing away textbooks that were twenty years newer, with more up to date knowledge, than veterinary students in Nepal had access to in their library. As a result, beginning in 2007 and each year since, we have collected used, donated, veterinary textbooks at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association Conference and shipped them to Nepal.
In 2008, my wife Donna and I visited Nepal. Of course, as part of our visit, I wanted to return to the veterinary school. I was very happy to see a cabinet filled with books from Ontario and to learn they were being used and much appreciated.
We have no plans to discontinue the book collection that has been so successful. However, there are a few difficulties with the effort. Books are very heavy items. It costs about $175.00 Cdn. to ship 20 kg. of books, surface route to Nepal. It does not take many books to reach that weight. Also libraries at universities in Canada and book shelves in animal hospitals in Canada are relying less and less on books and more on electronic and internet sources of information and learning. CD’s and DVD’s are used in teaching modules for veterinary students and continuing education for graduate veterinarians. The veterinary school in Nepal needed help to realize the benefits of this kind of learning. The people there are computer literate, they just lack the finances to get the computer hardware. Also, now the decade long revolution, in Nepal, has ended and a more stable, democratically elected government is in place. Communication towers should be safe. We felt the school should enter the electronic education era. If successful, it would also reduce the need to ship books half way around the world.
Therefore a year ago, in April 2009, we began a campaign to raise funds to allow the purchase of some computers to assist in the training of veterinarians at the school in Rampur. We called it the Nepal Veterinary School Project (NVSP). Our plan was endorsed by Veterinarians Without Borders/Veterinaires Sans Frontiers (www.vwb/vsf.ca)who agreed to assist us in the effort. Lifelearn, is an educational publisher and interactive digital media developer with products and services for veterinary continuing education, located in Guelph. They promised to donate educational modules and also made a monetary contribution to the effort. I have spoken to veterinary associations across the province asking for support. At present, thanks to these associations, individual veterinarians and other interested persons, we have almost reached our goal of raising ten thousand dollars.
As a result, Dr. Fox and myself, with our wives, are scheduled to return to Nepal in October. We plan to complete the project by gifting the school with the funds to purchase computers. I truly believe it is a project that has the potential to positively impact the lives of many people and animals in Nepal. They are both very deserving of that benefit. We are directing our appeal to those interested in small ruminants, in particular, because goats are a very common species raised in Nepal. Any CD’s or DVD’s pertaining to goat health or husbandry would be appreciated. We would also be most grateful to interested readers for a donation, of any amount, to help us with this project. To make a donation and receive a charitable donation receipt or learn more about the NVSP, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.baycitiesanimalhospital.ca