Veterinary Telemedicine Comes to Macuelizo
As COVID-19 ramps up in Honduras, César, an agricultural promoter and project manager who works for local partner CASM, is still supporting program farmers … virtually.
The pandemic was slow to arrive in Latin America, but as people began losing their jobs in cities, they went home, unwittingly taking the virus with them. To prevent it from spreading any further, César and his neighbors are isolating. But his community still needs him.
Part of his job is to be a coach to farmers, offering advice and talking them through the challenges they are facing. “People call me with questions about crops, markets or a cow giving birth in the middle of the night. It is important for them to be heard,” says César. Since the start of the pandemic, he has talked five families through the birth of a calf on their farms.
A cow is a big deal to these families. A heifer can be sold in local markets for $400-450, which is enough for a family to pay for home improvements or buy land. They are more than just animals; they are investments in brighter futures.
Before the pandemic, César would visit with families in person, telling them what to expect and answering their questions. During social isolation, he continues to train them by phone, but hasn’t been able to prepare them as he could in person. He notes that they are often stressed and anxious during the births. If the process takes longer than the family is expecting, for example, they tend to panic and call him because they think something is going wrong.
All five births have been successful, and all the calves are healthy. The families are proud to be able to “pay forward” to other families the gift of a calf to raise, just as they’d received and raised theirs. They pass along the first offspring, and when their cow has another calf, it’s theirs to keep or sell.
César and our partners in Honduras are showing us their resilience during the pandemic. While they protect themselves, pray for their neighbors and mourn with the families of people taken too soon, life goes on. And they continue to help families move forward into more hopeful futures. One calf at a time.
Honduras Macuelizo Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner CASM