The Big Picture - December 2015

The Big Picture Masthead

Welcome to The Big Picture

The Big Picture is a revised and re-launched electronic newsletter from Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans Frontières Canada. A lot has been happening and we want to make sure our supporters are up to date. Why The Big Picture? We believe that the health of animals, people, and the environment is completely inter-connected. The work we do with animals makes the lives of people better and by helping people raise animals responsibly we can also improve our environment. To see the Big Picture you need to pay attention to all three. We hope you enjoy this newsletter.  If you do, please encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to sign up for their own copies.


Meet Executive Director Chris Braeuel

Chris Braeul, Executive DirectorIn October 2015, Chris Braeuel took the reins of Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans Frontières as just the second Executive Director in the organization’s history. “I am still on a fairly steep learning curve,” Chris said less than 5 months into the job, “but I am very excited and enthusiastic about creating new opportunities for VWB/VSF, and very grateful for the support I have received so far. (Former Executive Director) Erin Fraser has been so helpful and so generous with her time, and I am fortunate to be supported by great staff, an excellent board, and a strong Chair in John VanLeeuwen.” Chris spent nearly 13 years working with the federal government, including service as part of Canada’s Climate Change negotiation team at the UN, as well as a Senior Program Manager posting in Afghanistan with the Canadian International Development Agency, among other rewarding assignments.  In 2013, Chris made the decision to redirect his considerable skills to the non-profit sector.  After serving in Tanzania as a Cuso Volunteer, Chris joined the staff of Cuso International as Country Director for Nigeria to re-establish the organization’s office in country.  Chris is married and the proud father of a 7 month old daughter.

Volunteers for Healthy Animals and Healthy Communities

Christine Mylks presents a project t-shirt donated by Vetoquinol to Boaz Buyinza

Program Manager Christine Mylks presents a project t-shirt donated by Vetoquinol, a corporate donor, to Boaz Buyinza, Executive Director of the Foundation for AIDS Orphaned Children in Mbarara, Uganda while volunteers Laura McDonald and Clare Card look on.

Volunteers have always been an important element in the success of Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans Frontières (VWB/VSF). At the beginning it was run exclusively by volunteers, and even after it was able to hire staff, volunteers continued to carry much of the organizational weight. For VWB/VSF, its corps of dedicated and highly skilled volunteers has always been one of its greatest assets, and last year the organization’s ability to mobilize and manage skilled volunteers was recognized by the Canadian Government with the signing of a 5 year, $5 million volunteer-sending project with Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Over the past eight months VWB/VSF has been ramping up, developing the systems and procedures necessary to recruit, brief, and deploy more than 100 volunteers over a five year period. The first group of volunteers recruited through the new Volunteers for Healthy Animals and Healthy Communities (V4H2) project has been recruited and briefed.  Some are in the field and others with shorter assignments are already home. Lynn Townshend, Bill Hazen, Shauna Michelle Richards, and Elizabeth Dacombe went to Kenya to support the Ex-Lewa Dairy Cooperative, working in partnership with PEI’s Farmers Helping Farmers. Claire Card and Laura McDonald were in Uganda working on project plans with the women’s groups we support there. As well, Steven Lam is in Vietnam working with the Centre for Public Health and EcoSystem Research (CENPHER) and will be joined in early April by Boubacar Sidibé. Patricia Kelly is in Laos to work with the National University of Laos and Health Poverty Action. Elizabeth Nadurille has taken on an assignment in Tanzania, working with Africa Bridge. “We have laid the groundwork for a project that will improve the lives of thousands of people in Africa and Asia, and leave an indelible impression on the lives of Canadian volunteers who step forward,” says V4H2 Manager Christine Mylks. “Our task now is to spread the word that VWB/VSF should be the first stop for people with skills in animal health and rural development who are looking for an exciting and rewarding international volunteer experience. We need veterinarians, but we also have placements for veterinary technologists, clinic managers, animal and human nutritionists, business development advisers, rural development specialists, gender specialists, monitoring and evaluation specialists and professors of veterinary medicine.” To be eligible, volunteers must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents. For more information go to the website at:

New Beginnings in South Sudan 

Children with livestock in South Sudan

In early March, South Sudan is still very much in the grip of the dry season.   Dust hangs in the air for many minutes after a vehicle passes, and the land is so dry and barren that it is impossible to imagine it ever being green and productive. The cattle are still clustered in large herds to take advantage of the last remaining grass in the swampy areas and each day the temperature nudges up over 40 degrees C. Yet the rains are now only a few weeks away and farmers throughout the country are making plans. For Veterinarians without Borders Canada (VWB/VSF) and its partners, VSF Germany and VSF Suisse, this growing season is critically important. It is the only full growing season in a two year program funded by Global Affairs Canada designed to boost food production in two regions of the country. South Sudan has suffered through many years of conflict, most recently an ethnically based civil war that broke out in 2013, just two years after the country gained its independence. That conflict once again disrupted the cycle of planting and harvesting and it displaced 1.3 million people. With food supplies already stretch by the return of exiles after independence, as many as 2.8 million people are facing food shortages. Staff have been working hard to organize local committees that, in turn, selected participating  farmers. Training and gender workshops have been held with those groups, and supplies are being sourced.  Seed can be purchased in South Sudan, but some of the tools necessary for the project, including ox ploughs, must come from Kenya or Uganda.  Inflation has increased the price of those items and conflict has made ground transportation expensive and unpredictable.  Still, VWB/VSF Program Manager John Bosco Wale is confident that everything will be in place on time. “We have just one growing season in the areas where we are working and we will be ready.”

We Need Your Support

Your contributions make our work possible, both to leverage project funds from funders and to finance the work that we do on our own. Monthly donations are particularly helpful, in that they offer a predictable revenue stream.



Big Picture - Big IssuesExplore some of the issues that challenge us.
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South Sudan

South SudanBy helping small farmers and fishers produce more and better food, we are working to reduce hunger in this troubled nation.
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VolunteerLearn about our new project, Volunteers for Healthy Animals and Healthy Communities.
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VWB-VSF Canada Headquarters
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 712
Ottawa, Ontario  K1N 7B7

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