Building community trust, fostering responsible dog owners, and vaccinating against rabies in Namibia’s poorest communities.
Have a Heart had two fantastic vaccination days in Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) – the poorest informal settlement in Swakopmund, Namibia. A total of 86 dogs came with their owners or neighbors to us. Our team had already sterilized these animals and provided them with some other primary animal healthcare treatments on previous visits. All of them received their booster rabies vaccination and internal and external parasite treatment. Because we provide vaccination certificates to all the dog owners who have their dogs vaccinated and sterilized, we knew that seven other dogs that arrived at our vaccination day had already been sterilized, and their rabies vaccinations were still up to date. However, we still treated the dogs against parasites.
While the owners waited in line, Izak, one of only a handful of certified Rabies Educators in Namibia, had many children on our coloring table. We used GARC’s “Want a Friend, Be a Friend” booklet in English and Afrikaans, enabling the children to learn in the language easiest for themselves. All of them were very interested in the coloring and the education about "Stand like a tree", an important lesson in an area where most households don't have fences and the dogs primarily roam free. As we know, bite prevention is one of the best means to prevent human rabies deaths, so educating children about bite prevention is key to our work.
We are very proud to help so many responsible and very caring dog owners with spay/neuter, full vaccination, and parasite treatment in Namibia. Our work over the years has helped us to build a good relationship with the community, encouraging and educating owners to become responsible dog owners. Through this approach, we have noted an improvement in behavior and attitudes towards dogs and it brought us great joy to see so many very good looking and much-loved dogs in one of the poorest townships. This shows us that we are going into the right direction and we will hopefully in the future have enough funds to support as many dogs and cats with spay/neuter, vaccination, parasite treatment and basic and emergency medical care as possible!
Have a Heart Foundation in Namibia used the “Want a Friend, Be a Friend” educational booklet for children and used their skills learnt from the Rabies Educator Certificate (REC) course to educate the community.
Article contributed by: Geesche Neuberg, Have a Heart Foundation, Namibia.