People in Swaziland value dogs for security, yet many fear their own dogs, treat them with animosity, and do not develop a companionable bond. Children who regularly witness dogs being kicked or hit will mimic this behaviour. In Swaziland it is a daily occurrence to see children with sticks in hand, playing the game of "shaya" ("to hit"). It follows that 87% of reported abuse in Swaziland happens by family members - and that 58% of this abuse is emotional/verbal and 14% is physical.
Bringing a one-day free clinic and follow up to Kandwandwe, a community in rural Swaziland without veterinary services, will give needed care to animals, and be a positive example towards breaking this cycle. Education sessions on how to care for dogs (even when resources are limited), develop a companionable bond, and discipline dogs appropriately, will be conducted at the three primary schools and four dip tanks. The clinic will provide vaccinations, spays, neuters, and de-worming.
Swaziland's pattern of domestic violence suggests that mimicking behaviour is the driving force, instead of the intent to do harm. With 70% poverty, 40% unemployment, 26% HIV and a life expectancy of 49 years, families struggle daily to meet their basic needs, and this stresses their relationships. Bringing animal care services, combined with education, to a rural community will help to support care and companionship for animals, promoting the development of empathy in young children.
This project has provided additional documentation in a DOCX file (projdoc.docx).