Lewisporte’s Samantha Canning found herself very far from home this summer doing work that she loves.
Canning, who has a Bachelor of Agriculture in Animal Science from Dalhousie University, was in Ghana in Western Africa, from May 1 to August 1 working as an Animal Nutrition Specialist. She was representing Veterinarians Without Borders and working with a Ghanaian partner organization called SEND-Ghana.
She thoroughly enjoyed her working visit to the country.
“It was such a great experience both personally and professionally,” Canning told The Central Voice. “I am dedicated to continuing to work with VWB and certainly hope to return again.”
Veterinarians Without Borders, founded in 2005, is focused on eco-health; a fundamental understanding of the connection between animal health, human behaviour and the environment. The organization works with people in Africa, Asia, and in the Canadian North, to provide support and training for sustainable animal health care.
Canning’s role as an Animal Nutrition Specialist involved leading workshops and presentations for local farmers about animal nutrition practices that can increase income through better animal health and husbandry.
“Each trip to the field brought new experiences, perspective and enlightenment,” Canning says. “Most of these farmers are struggling to make enough income to survive by growing crops alone.”
She says her guidance on animal nutrition was was very well received.
“The farmers were so thankful for any information and knowledge that could be given,” Canning says. “They were very interested in implementing the ideas they had learned.”
Canning says she enjoys being able to support local farmers with her information and knowledge and was happy to feel so welcome in a new environment.
“It was surprising how easy it was for me to adapt to the Ghanaian culture. Everyone that I met were so accepting and welcoming, it was easy to feel at home.”
She did find some aspects of life in Ghana challenging, though.
“The heat was the most difficult adjustment, if I ever did adjust.,” Canning says. “As well, the language barrier was frustrating.”
It wasn’t that she couldn’t speak one new language, it was that there were so many different languages and dialects involved.
“The majority of villages that I visited during field work spoke different local languages, making it difficult to learn any one language,” Canning says. “It was difficult not being able to directly communicate and trying to remember the different greetings in to each community.”
Canning persevered, despite the language challenges, and is very proud of her work with Veterinarians Without Borders, and enjoys knowing that she was able to help the people that she met.
“Before I left for Ghana I said that if I was able to help even one family benefit from the information that I could offer these farmers, I would feel that it was all worth it.
“I think that I was able to make a difference, however small, in the lives of many farmers,” Canning says. “That brings me great satisfaction and happiness.”