Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children

by Vusumnotfo
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Using Animal Care to Promote Empathy in Children
Before and After
Before and After

This mother dog belongs to the Malambe family who is enrolled in our pilot activity "to provide structured technical, material and training support to children with special needs at family level”.

At first glance, this is a very skinny dog.  But after observing, two other things were even more striking:

1.  The mother dog is so very patient with letting her 5 puppies feed, even though they can already eat solids, and

2   The family is very caring to all the animals at the homestead.  Their positive interaction seems to carry through, as the mother dog and family cat even like to sit in the sun together!

As a short-term intervention, we gave the family some Holsum to add to the dog’s food. Holsum is an inexpensive type of lard readily available in rural Eswatini. 

Over the course of a week, shave a 125-gram packet into the dog’s food, which tends to be left over food scraps. This increases the energy content of the food scraps just enough to help the dog gain weight and improve their fur (if you use too much, the dog will get diarrhea).  

Just one month later the result is striking!

Vusumnotfo uses animal care to demonstrate responsibility and empathy to children.  The Malambe homestead was already a positive example of both, so our short-term intervention was just information, the noticeable results of which are now influencing their neighbors.

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Sweet cards
Sweet cards

When I moved to the Vusumnotfo grounds back in March, I quickly became attached to the three dogs that lived here; Coffee, DJ and Rhino. Rhino and Coffee always wanted love, but DJ took lots of effort, I had to be very intentional with her. As a puppy she had been stolen from her mother and stuffed up a drainpipe; 15 years later the physical scar was still visible.

Over the last 6 months I grew to love DJ, as did my little sisi (sister) who comes to visit me often on the weekends. Khosi - through spending time with Coffee, DJ, and Rhino - learnt how to treat dogs, how to love them and how dogs give back love in return.

Sadly, back in June, DJ passed away peacefully in her sleep. She had lived a wonderful 15 years filled with love, walks, great food and all the humans she could ever ask for.  Losing DJ was difficult, but something I didn’t expect from the experience was the visual proof of how a companionship with dogs can motivate empathy in children!

After DJ died, we had Khosi and her friend Siyamthanda come over to spend some time with Coffee and Rhino. When they came, they brought these amazing cards for my boss Kathy, which said “RIP DJ I will miss you. Sorry Kathy and Alliancen”.  After they gave the cards to us, they then went out to the grave to pay their respects, and say their goodbyes to DJ.

If you had told me this would be their reaction a year ago, I would not have believed you. However, these two little girls have been able to grow as young ladies and expand their emotional abilities as a direct result of spending time with these dogs!  It truly is an amazing transformation to witness!

One of our main programme activities is our annual spay day. Spay day is part of Vusumnotfo's early childhood training programme "to increase knowledge of early childhood development and learning, including factors that influence this".  Specifically we use the spay day as an example to show how animal care can demonstrate responsibility and empathy to children.

Having these amazing experience with Khosi and Siyamthanda remind me daily of how much a family pet can in fact change the lives of their humans. By supporting our project, you help make what we do possible! Please note that all donations made up to $50 on September 14 to 18 will be matched by GlobalGiving at 50%.

For updates on our related activities, go to our Instagram handle Vusumnotfo.Eswatini and our Facebook page Vusumnotfo.Eswatini.

Khosi, DJ and Coffee
Khosi, DJ and Coffee

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Nkamanzi Libandla meeting
Nkamanzi Libandla meeting

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our original date for the spay day in June has been put on hold until restrictions are lifted. However, we decided that since the situation has lasted for longer than we had all thought possible, we would focus on the preparations that we could within this crazy reality.  

Nkamanzi community was selected.  This community is 20 Km down a gravel road. There are three dip tanks with a total of 765 dogs (278 owners), so this community is truly in need of a spay day! Both cattle and dogs are registered specific to a dip tank, cows for tick dipping and dogs for annual rabies injections.

As Vusumnotfo is in the process of drilling 5 boreholes at Nkamanzi for domestic water supply, we have been driving the gravel road into Nkamanzi often. The high number of scrappy looking dogs on the road is striking. 

We presented the "what, why and how" of the spay day to Nkamanzi Libandla (chiefdom council) for their permission. I found it particularly rewarding that Libandla members had already heard positive results from friends and family members whose dogs had been operated on at the 2019 spay day at Mkhuzweni Primary School (25 Km away). 

We also carried out a site visit with Swaziland Animal Welfare Society to view the buildings at Nkamanzi Primary School. This was to ensure that the required basic infrastructure is available (or if need be can be brought to the school). 

Prior to this the head teacher from Mkhuzweni Primary School called the head teacher from Nkamanzi to explain first hand the practicalities of the day as they relate to school operations.  

As is protocol, we left the permission form with the Libandla for their final consideration. We have since received written permission from both Nkamanzi Libandla and the Head of Nkamanzi Primary School, so this critical step in the process is completed. 

Our annual spay day is part of Vusumnotfo's early childhood training programme "to increase knowledge of early childhood development and learning, including factors that influence this".  Specifically we use the spay day as an example to show how animal care can demonstrate responsibility and empathy to children.

For updates on our related activities, go to Instagram handle Vusumnotfo.Eswatini. 

Your continued support makes this possible. Please note that all donations made up to $50 on September 14 to 18 will be matched by GlobalGiving at 50%.

Scrappy dog
Scrappy dog
So in need of Vet Care
So in need of Vet Care

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Girl power Puppy power
Girl power Puppy power

The new normal of Covid-19 around the world has had an incredible affect on the emotional needs of many. Eswatini is still living under a national emergency with many restrictions in place. As everyone across the world knows, the restrictions needed to keep us safe mean that we are also missing out on some of the simple joys in life.

A few weeks ago I chose to give a happy home to two beautiful puppies!  Of course I got the puppies from Swaziland Animal Welfare Society, our partner in this project. 

Last week I had two children from the Vusweni community come and visit, to entertain the puppies and have some fun in this dark time we are living in. I am always amazed at how positive companionship with animals affects children.

Khosi, Siyamthanda and the puppies were a joy to watch together. Having the time with these puppies not only enabled the girls to get social interaction in a time where we are expected to socially distance, but also gave them an outlet for physical touch, loving communication and comfort, all of which will benefit their emotional wellbeing in the future.

Both girls have gained a friend and new social skills, while their families have also seen how positive companionship with animals can benefit all involved.

Your support is what makes these positive outcomes possible! Please support if possible, or just share our link around. Your actions truly allow us to continue to create positive examples of how to use animal care to motivate responsibility and empathy in children in rural Eswatini. Thank You!

Khosi, with Chaco and Rocky
Khosi, with Chaco and Rocky
Siyamthanda and Rocky
Siyamthanda and Rocky

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Hand-in-hand
Hand-in-hand

No need to remind you of the extra challenges from COVID-19 being experienced by people throughout the world. Eswatini declared a national emergency with partial lock down now being enforced. Although Eswatini has nine cases to date, the government is well aware of the threat, so nation wide preventative measures are in place.

In these challenging times we need to remember to see the good things that are still happening around us. I took these photos at a community session at Emfasini where we were discussing the requirements for drilling a borehole for a hand pump to improve domestic water supply.

This father caught my eye for several reasons; his attentive interaction with his son was a pleasure to observe, and his dogs were so content and loyal to him.

For those of you who have experienced positive companionship with animals, you know that animal-care and child-care go hand in hand. Particularly during social isolation, the companionship from animals provides comfort to our emotional wellbeing.

Planning for the upcoming spay day on June 20 is in full swing, although we are aware that the date may need to be reset due to the COVIC-19 situation. We have selected a location that is 20 Km on a gravel road. The three cattle dip tanks in the area have a combined total of 765 dogs (278 owners), so this community has a very high need for a spay day.

What I find heartening is that doing the spay day as an annual event has created momentum that is really taking hold. Through out the year, people ask us about this event. The planning flows now because people have heard about it or know someone whose dog is now so much healthier.  When I walked into the Mayiwane Ministry of Agriculture Office, I was greeted with “so, its time for the spay day again right?”

Your support is what makes this momentum and the positive results from this project possible. Thank you.

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Organization Information

Vusumnotfo

Location: Piggs Peak, Hhohho Region - Eswatini
Website:
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Project Leader:
kathy gau
Piggs Peak, Hhohho Region Eswatini
$18,591 raised of $20,000 goal
 
241 donations
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