In a region where the average income is less than one U.S. dollar a day, the PRT's veterinary civil assistance patrol not only strengthened the herds, it also strengthened relations with the Kuchi tribesmen.
The PRT members met the Kuchis soon after arriving in Qalat. After meeting and learning more about the tribe, they quickly realized their assistance was needed. For Afghanistan's nomadic Kuchi tribes, diseases spreading through the livestock herds could have a devastating effect on their livelihood.
"We identified them as people at risk. They are the poorest people in Afghanistan," said U.S. Army Specialist Don DeBardelaben, a PRT civil affairs specialist and Kuchi tribal coordinator.
At first, the Kuchis were hesitant to have their animals treated, Specialist DeBardelaben said. "They were really scared," he said. "They told us the coalition has not seen them in seven years."
Tribe members eventually overcame their initial reluctance and took advantage of the free vaccinations. By the end of the August visit, more than 200 animals had been treated. Two months later, the PRT hosted a two-day visit.
"Mohammad Rasul, the Kuchi line director explained, 'Hey, word is spreading. You guys are popular now. Everyone saw what you did, and then they told all of their friends. Hundreds of animals are going to come; you should stay in Qalat,'" Specialist DeBardelaben said. "We said, 'OK, we will be at the same place tomorrow morning.' We showed up, and there were literally a thousand sheep and goats in the streets waiting for us."
The veterinarian team trained a handful of Kuchis in the procedures to vaccinate their animals before the visit came to an end. They left them with medicine to treat another 1,000 animals.
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