Award for Afya Serengeti campaign

The Afya Serengeti campaign, of which we reported earlier in our blog, has won an Award of Excellence in the category Animal Health. With this award, founded by the RX club, the campaign is honoured for its creativity and execution. The campaign was developed by Circa Healthcare in order of Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, and focuses at the prevention of rabies in the Serengeti area in Tanzania. The campaign supports vaccination teams that vaccinate all domestic dogs in the communities surrounding the Serengeti National Park. We were involved in this campaign through the production of a video-series where we followed these team in their year around vaccination campaign.

Rabies is a lethal disease that still claims more than 25,000 Africans per year, mainly children. While rabies is preventable with vaccination, fighting it is a huge undertaking. The Afya Serengeti project alone encompasses an area inhabited by more than 6 million people and 500,000 domestic dogs.

This Award of Excellence is a fantastic recognition for this sympathetic campaign.

Today is World Rabies Day!

Today, 28 september 2010, is  World Rabies Day. World Rabies Day is an initiative of the Global Allience for Rabies Control and their mission is to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, how easy it is to prevent it, and how to eliminate the main global sources.

Through a selection events (of which World Rabies Day is one of the annual highlights) WRD has reached over 100 million people and vaccinated over 3 million animals against rabies. Despite that, 50.000 people still die annually of rabies, most of which are children. One of the vaccination campaigns is the Afya Serengeti project of which we reported here before. Aim of this project is to vaccinate all privatly owned dogs that live in the villages and communities surrounding the Serengeti Park in Tanzania. And with succes, as outbreaks of rabies has not been seen in areas where more than 70% of dogs are vaccinated since the start of the campaign in 2003. One of our clients, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health has supported this campaign the last couple of years by donating a dose of rabies to the project for every dose of vaccine sold. We’ve made a videoseries in 2008 about the campaign to give you an impression of the effort made by the team. This campaign was nominated for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award 2009 by the Royal Dutch Veterinary Association.

WRD uses various social media tools to promote their activities like Twitter and Facebook. In addition to that they use video and webinars for educational purposes. Today, for examples, they organize throughout the day 4 webinars. Besides that, you can also demonstrate your support to WRD by sending specially developed  Health eCards or by placing special buttons on your website or below your email messages. No matter how small, it’s one step closer to the ultimate goal: a world free of rabies.

World Rabies Day Contest Video

Every year, 50,000 people die of rabies, most of them children. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health and Merck jointly fight rabies by supporting the Afya Serengeti Project and World Rabies Day to put a halt to this preventable threat. They do this by donating one dose rabies vaccine to the Afya Serengeti for every dose rabies vaccine sold. The Afya Serengeti Project Team is vaccinating privatley owned dogs in all villages surrounding the Serengeti National Park and with this they successfully prevent rabies within these communities, especially amongst chilren. We spoke about this before and participated in the project through the production of the Afya video-series. Last year Intervet/Schering-Plough brought the Afya Serengeti project under the attention by organizing a draw contest for the kids of their employees. The winning drawing was printed on mugs and T-shirts and used during World Rabies Day. This year they decided to repeat the contest and extended the scope to the entire Merck organization. Although the contest is not open for the general public, we don’t want to withold you the announcement of this contest, cutely made by last year’s winner, Ishika.

Afya Serengeti Episode 3 – Announcing vaccination

It has been a while since we’ve posted an episode from our Afya series. Well, I think it’s time to catch-up. Here is episode 3:

The day before the Afya team starts vaccinating all dogs in a village (for free), they go around the area in a jeep with a large speaker mounted on top, loudly announcing that that they are coming the next day. Join in and see how Afya swings!

 

Rabies, Serengeti and DigiRedo

An exciting trip to Tanzania, twelve hours of footage, hours of postproduction and a few liters of coffee later we are proud to present the first episode of the Afya Serengeti videoseries. In co-operation with TEN10 films (production) we have created this first episode where Sarah Cleaveland explains the situation in the Serengeti, the reason for her being there and introduces the team. In subsequent episodes we will follow the vaccination team in their journey deep into the park to find and vaccinate dogs against rabies, and thus helping the community.

We encourage everyone to share the videos so that as many people as possible learn about this important initiative. We will make sure that videos will come available on YouTube and the iTunes Store.

The Afya adventure – part one

Just landed in Nairobi, after spending 4 days and 4 nights in and around the Serengeti. Tomorrow morning I fly back to Holland. Since there was no internet available in the places where we stayed, I was not able to give an update earlier than today. But apart from that, the trip was unique, amazing and breathtaking. I realize I have had one of the best experiences in my life. Let me share these with you in the following days, step by step…

I arrive in the Serengeti on Wednesday, May 28. A small propeller plane takes me into the park, taking off with a delay of 1.5 hours. From the air I can get a taste from what is waiting for me down there. Large herds of wildebeest and zebra’s are visible from the sky. The plains are drying up and the wildebeest are migrating north of where there is more food and water available. This has started already a few weeks ago and the herds I am looking at are only a fraction of the number of animals that have already moved over the plains of the Serengeti. Although I find these (give or take a few) 3,000 animals, running in a large stream of an amazing size, compared to the 50,000 that are seen at the start of the migration it is peanuts. Current estimations of the wildebeest population range from 1.1-1.2 million animals. That’s 4 times the size compared to 45 years ago, clearly showing the benefits of this protected area of 14.500 square kilometers, roughly the size of Northern Ireland.

Sarah Cleaveland, leader of the rabies control project has been waiting for me for more than 2 hours at the Seronera airstrip. Not only did the plane took off too late, it also has flown a different route, leading to a much longer route than intially planned. No reason for me to complain, referring to the earlier described sights, but the downside is that we will be too late to join the team that is vaccinating the dogs in Rung’abure, a small village west of the Serengeti. Later I hear from the team that this was a crazy day, with over 400 dogs vaccinated, hundreds of people surrounding the team, laughing and cheering children and a dog giving birth to three puppies…

We have lunch at the residential place of the Frankfurter Zoological Society, close the airstrip. Here the research team resides when they operate in the field. It is an amazing place. While sitting on the porch, we see grazing zebra’s, a family of water-buffalo’s, two warthogs and a baboon passing by. I can hardly believe my eyes, wildlife in your backyard…

After lunch we have to move. Paolo Charles, the vehicle manager of the team, will take Sarah and me to Mugumu, a village west of the park. Here we will stay two nights as the vaccinations take place in villages in the surrounding of Mugumu. We have 4 hours of travel ahead of us. In about 2 hours we will reach the border of the park and Sarah assures me that I will see tons of wildlife in this period. Within 15 minutes, we encounter a herd of zebra’s, drinking at a small pond. We decide to wait and observe them for a moment. I take my camera and start filming them. Suddenly the zebra’s seem to be alerted by something and leave the water. We think to see the outline of a crocodile in the water…or not? The zebra’s aren’t sure either and return to continue to lessen their thirst. Again, a sudden move and the huge reptile raises from the water in an attempt to grab a small foal, but misses. Nonetheless, I caught it on tape and Sarah ascertains me this being a rare sight, as she has been waiting for hours next to similar sites where nothing happened. (In a few days I will publish this scene as I currently do not have a high-speed connection to upload the video).

We continue and after watching wildebeest, more zebra’s, giraffes, hippo’s, ostriches, Thompson gazelle’s, eland and more we arrive in the town of Mugumu. We stay at ‘Anita’s place’, a nice hostel, far less primitive than I expected. Although there is no running water, it is clean. I have a large two size room, even including TV. Shortly after we’ve arrived, the team returns, tired from, as said earlier, a crazy and hectic day. I meet the remaining members of he team; Idi Lipende, a veteriarian and coordinator of the campaign, Israel Silaa, the driver, and Kaneja Ibrahim, the field assistant. With the team is also Tendeka Matatu, our cameraman, Suzanne McNabb, a researcher, who is working on her PhD and James Desmond, a recently graduated veterinarian from the USA.

Tendeka tells me that he has found in Kaneja the host for our podcast show as he is a charismatic guy with no fear for the camera and someone who has a talent for improvisation. And that’s not his only talent, as I will find out in the next days. Although they have spectacular stories of which many is caught on tape, I am not allowed to see it yet. “No, you have to experience it yourself first, before we can show you the footage, for that it is too special”, Tendeka promises me, with a smile on is face.

So, I just need one more night of patience. And I can tell you, he was right…

To be continued

Live from Tanzania!

Eleven o’clock in the evening. Doing some postproduction work.

My iChat beeps on the screen. I see René is online and from thousands of miles away somewhere in Tanzania he tries to establish a connection with the Western part of the world. I accept the invitation and seconds later he appears full screen on my Mac.

We live in an interesting time, communication-wise…

PS: You can’t hear my voice. Missed a button somewhere, most probably.

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