This morning, eight of us woke up at 4:45 AM to go help the village of Ntambo inoculate chickens against Newcastle Disease. This is a virus that has ravaged the chicken population in Malawi. Because of Newcastle Disease, VIP has had to suspend its program of chicken distribution to the most vulnerable families until they could get the disease under control. Now VIP helps the villagers inoculate their chickens every 4 months.
We arrived at 5:30 AM along with the sunrise. After being greeted by the chief of the village (a woman!) the villagers all brought their chickens to the center square in the village. So many chickens! Entire families came with chickens. There were chickens in baskets. There were chickens in buckets. There even were chickens carried in their hands. Little children arrived swinging chickens nonchalantly by their feet and wings. There were roosters and newborn chicks, and we took care of them all. VIP staff member Charles Sokoso explained to the villagers and the Americans how to inoculate all of these birds. It was surprising how simple the process was.
While each villager held a chicken, we grabbed its beak, turned its head and put a single drop of vaccine into one eye. When we weren’t busy giving this medicine to the chickens, we were able to cuddle with the baby chicks and play with all the children. It was a great morning and definitely worth it even if we did have to get up at the crack of dawn!