“You Saved Our Lives”: When Parasite Control Brings Peace

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Sometimes meeting basic needs in missions–food, medicine, shelter–extends to more than what we could ever anticipate.

This story comes to us from Ethiopia, a locale where veterinary medicine (including basic control of parasites) saves lives–and not only through the obvious impacts of improved nutrition and disease treatment.

Dr. Fred experienced the saving of lives another way not uncommon in the agrarian world.

“Dr. Fred, the goats are all dying at Erbori. Please come!”

My friend was obviously concerned, so I went… two hours of dusty, bumpy dirt roads to the village he spoke of. 

People gathered, describing the symptoms of their goat disease.  They brought several goats to examine.

The goats were nearly hairless. Their thickened, reddish, oozing skin smelled horrible.  I’d never seen such advanced cases; mange is usually treated before it ever gets so clinically advanced. 

A simple skin scraping revealed mange mites under the field microscope.  They were absolutely amazed!

We taught them about the parasite, about treating the affected animals and their environment, about how to prevent it in the future on their goats and their children. 

I watched hope suddenly swell in their eyes again. They chattered excitedly, bringing herd after herd for treatment.  Such a simple thing to treat, if you have the right medicine!

When Parasites Mean War

A month later they insisted I return to the village. 

They slaughtered a goat, made a feast, and paraded their healthy flocks before us in pride and delight. Then they said something I’ve never forgotten.

“Dr. Fred, you saved our lives, and the lives of our sons. Many lives.” 

I asked, “How can that be? We only treated the goats.”  

“Our goats were all dying.  We were desperate to find a way to survive, for us and our families. 

“On the very day you arrived, we were making plans to go attack the Borana people across the salt flats and steal their goats.  But some of us always die in such conflicts. 

“Now that our goats are healthy, we do not need to go to war anymore. You saved our lives!”   

I’m happy to tell you that on that day, more than physical lives saved. Parasites–or the lack thereof–opened doors for the sharing of the Jesus and true salvation.   

www.cvm.org/equips and encourages veterinary professionals and students to build relationships with others through the use of their veterinary knowledge and skills so that lives are transformed. (Get to know them at their Meet an Agency post here!)

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