KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The California National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division’s Agri-business Development Team conducted a veterinary civic action program in the provincial capital to help area residents with their livestock, Jan. 15.
The ADT partnered with local leaders and veterinarians to administer vaccinations and vitamin treatment to 567 animals belonging to more than 100 villagers from the Gujjer and Pashtun tribes in the villages of Woch Now, Argadel Kalay and Yargul Kalay that surround Camp Wright in Kunar Province.
The local residents brought their livestock to the event to get treatment and information, but most important the event helped foster a positive relationship between Coalition Forces, government leaders and the people.
According to Fazlullah Wahidi, Kunar provincial governor, the VETCAP was necessary because of the importance of livestock in Afghanistan.
“Kunar is a province of agriculture and animals. We are in a mountain area, and the biggest economy for people is their cows, sheep and goats,” Wahidi said. “This is very good for our farmers today for the medicines. Livestock for these people are cash-money because they don’t have businesses, they are farmers. If they were to buy some goods for example, they would have to sell something to buy something.”
The governor said the people he talked to were happy to have the ADT’s help.
“We are thankful to the people and government of America. They all support across the province and work with us as a team,” Wahidi said. “This is the first time for this here and the people are very happy that they (ADT) are here for them to benefit from this knowledge and experience.”
The governor was so pleased by the operation he had his own horse and four cows sent to the event for treatment.
The ADT teamed up with Afghan elders, military-aged males and children from the surrounding villages to help set up the holding pens, assist with the vaccinations and clean up the site when done. The VETCAP ran smoothly with the assistance of village children who helped corral animals that tried to escape. The mobile clinic paired Afghan veterinarians with ADT members and allowed them to work with villagers on how to properly administer future vaccinations.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Max Velte, ADT deputy commander from Sacramento, Calif., said this VETCAP was a collaborative partnership with local leaders and elders, as well as a great opportunity to work with Afghan National Security Forces to secure the event.
Velte said the ADT also handed out humanitarian assistance to the villagers who brought their animals for treatment as both an incentive and as preventive care.
“The items included solar powered radios, water and small food items and livestock vitamin booster supplements,” Velte said. “We needed to get the solar-powered radios out to them because of the three villages that came today, two are without power. Now with solar radios, the Gujjer villages are much more connected to information from the government center of Asadabad and the surrounding areas.”
U.S. Army Spc. Gerardo Robledo, Jr., ADT security forces member from Anaheim, Calif., said the VETCAP was important because it put Afghan veterinarians out in front of their people.
“It’s important because it gives the local people confidence in the workers from their communities. That way if something is wrong with their animals they can go to them and not come to us or wait for these VETCAPS,” Robledo said. “They can go and find a local veterinarian to tell them what is wrong with their animals.”
One of the Afghan veterinarians was Hedayetullah from Jalalabad. He said he was glad to come and help the people take care of their animals.
“We have a lot of profit from the animals. It is important to take care of the animals because when we trade the animals we get a good amount for them,” Hedayetullah said. “This (VETCAP) was done to prevent diseases, and I’m very happy to participate in today’s event. The people were very excited and happy about this.”
But, pride was also in the faces of the ADT members as they closed out their most successful VETCAP.
“We finished crunching our numbers last night and our total number was 567 animals treated at the Argadel VETCAP,” Velte said. “This is a record number of us. It was a great VETCAP and total team effort.”