Business is booming.

The Eritrean Gitano, Bokre.

By Billion Temesghen

Where there are young people there is always something new. At the dairy farm in Halhale, which is part of the Logo and Misilam development pilot project, we were amazed by an event that seemed to have been extracted from The Brave One. A story of friendship of a young girl, Eden Kesete, a veterinarian, and her beloved bull, Bokre.

As we’ve explored in #UnderstandingEritrea, the dairy farm project run by the Eritrean Livestock and Crop Corporation began towards the end of 2017 when 600 livestock of three breeds were imported from Germany, with the aim of multiplying their number by hundreds and then diffuse the breed to dairy farmers in all parts of the country.

Just as in other development projects we visited, the youth are crucial in bringing about drastic changes. In Halhale, we met young veterinaries and graduates of animal science working enthusiastically. Eden Kesete is one of the many young people we met. She is 27 and is now working at the pharmacy. Seeing her pet Bokre, the bull a lot of people are afraid of, is most memorable to us.

Thank you for your time. Introduce yourself, please.

Hello, my name is Eden Kesete and I am working as a veterinarian in Halhale dairy farm project. I have been working here since the establishment of the project in 2017. Currently, I am working at the pharmacy.

Let’s speak about your educational background. Where did you go to school?

I was born in a small village called Mai Michikat, near Adi Kuala, and my parents are farmers. I moved to Asmara where I got my junior and high school education. Then I sat for the high school leaving exam. Although I had worked hard for the college entrance exam I only got a grade to join a certificate program. With that my long aspired dream of studying health science and be a nurse faded away. I could have sat for the exam again but I decided to study animal science as I had the grade to join that department. Without realizing it, I made one of the best decisions of my life. Animal science became my passion and my life. I fell in love with the science and so I studied hard. Being able to give care to animals is the most gratifying feeling one can have. The animals don’t speak and nor do they complain. Through my profession I now feel so connected to them.

I noticed that many of the young people working here are extremely passionate about their work. If you are this good and dedicated you all must have had good education and preparation for your profession.

That is true. For example, if I am to speak from my experience, when I chose to pursue animal science in 2015 I joined a vocational training offered by the government in Ela Bered. The place is known for its farms. For over a year we learned about animal science to become veterinarians. We were given theoretical courses in class and practical training in the field. I truly learned a lot during that time. I found myself being more and more fascinated by the senior veterinaries I met there. I studied hard to be like them. When school work was over and I was finally assigned to work I rolled my sleeves up to work hard and compassionately in a field that I truly love and respect.

You said that you were assigned to work at the Halhale project in 2017. What did you do exactly?

I first was working in the calf feeding department. In our section we were receiving and caring for calves under seven months. The aim of the overall project is to multiply the imported cattle breed and eventually diffuse them to dairy farmers in the country and boost milk production. To that end, the care given to the cattle here is very well thought out and planned. Then, I got reassigned to the heifers’ quarters and started working as their veterinarian. Later, I moved on to work as a round vet. My team and I would do rounds to check on the cows, heifers, calves and bulls. And since not long ago, I have been working at the pharmacy. Like I said before, for the youth here, myself included, it has been all about gaining more expertise as we work. Therefore, during my stay working at the project I have learned and grown professionally. The time I spent here allowed me to be fond of animals and their wellbeing as well as gaining more competence.

Speaking about your attachment to animals, can we now talk about your friend Bokre?

Bokre was the first calf to be born here from the imported cows that were first put here in the Halhale dairy farm. He was born on the 29th November in 2017. He was the first and so, naturally, he got my attention. I fed him, played with him and grew fond of him. But as he got bigger and energetic people started getting scared of him. But he is just an animal; if you’re scared of him he will be scared of you too. He means no harm at all. That is not in their nature. Bokre and I bonded a lot. He is my favorite and I am his favorite human being.

We heard an interesting story about how you stopped him from being moved away with the other bulls.

If it hadn’t been for him I don’t think I would have ever been able to feel sympathy towards animals. So, personally, I can’t imagine this place without him. He is like the child of everyone here. He is spoiled, I know. But he is very docile. So when I was told that he would be moved away with the other bulls I felt really bad. This guy is so special to me! I took a sick leave once, and he found his way out of the barn and came to our dorm! On his way here he broke some of Halima’s kitchen stuff she had taken out to dry in the sun. So my friend Halima resents him for that. Others resent him for his stubbornness, but I believe nobody wants him gone. I felt really bad and I cried a lot when I heard he was going to be moved. Finally, the administration decided to let him stay. And so he is still here!

What are your biggest lessons in your journey at Halhale?

Besides developing professionally what I learned the most is compassion and sympathy towards animals. So I study hard to be a better veterinarian by the day. In the future, if I get a chance, I would love to continue my studies up to post graduate level so that I can take care of animals better. I want to cure as many animals as I can and advocate for as many as I can!

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