“Want a Friend? Be a Friend!” Afrikaans translation reaches 6,000 South African students

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Primary school children in the Langeberg area of the Western Cape. Photo: Mercia Williams.
South African primary students show off GARC booklets translated to Afrikaans. Photo: Mercia Williams.

One of the major activities of the Animal Health sub-programme of the Western Cape Government Veterinary Services is rabies prevention. Thirty-eight animal health field technicians hold rabies vaccination campaigns, as well as education days, in classrooms throughout the province. Most education days are aimed at school children, who are taught about the clinical signs of rabies in animals and how to prevent it by having their pets vaccinated.

In 2017, the animal health technicians introduced  GARC’s Want a Friend? Be a Friend! booklets during school talks. The presenters started to add more information about animal welfare and how to interact with dogs  and made the talks more interactive for the children. At the time, the booklet was available in two of the languages of the Western Cape region: English and isiXhosa. After lobbying from several of the animal health technicians in the Veterinary Services team, an Afrikaans version was produced with the assistance of a few dedicated staff from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and their professional contacts,making the booklet now available in all three of the province’s official languages.

The response to the new Afrikaans booklet, entitled Soek ’n Maat? Wees ‘n Maat!, has been very positive. In the second half of 2018, approximately 6,000 copies were printed and distributed to children by Veterinary Services officials at education events held at schools throughout the province. Predominantly primary schools were targeted, of all sizes, ranging from rural schools with 20 learners to urban schools with several thousand students. Several of of the animal health technicians have shared their experiences below about using the new Afrikaans booklet:

“We have used this version at a number of primary schools in our area, and I can confirm that it does work very well. We even had a colouring competition. We combine our rabies awareness talks with the pet husbandry side and also plan to use it with the LandCare camps where I usually also give a talk...” -Albie Storm (Oudtshoorn)

“I gave a rabies talk and a Want a Friend? Be a Friend! talk at a school and gave each child a laminated certificate after the talk. The children enjoyed it very much and were very proud of themselves when they received the certificate.” –Irlimind Speelman (Clanwilliam)

“This is a wonderful initiative and definitely a step in the right direction. So congratulations to everyone who participated in creating and distributing this booklet.” –Maresa Fourie (Stellenbosch)

“I use it at every school talk…The kiddies love the activities.” –Elouise Hattingh (Beaufort West)

“I went to [a primary school] in Atlantis to do a rabies presentation. The school principal … explained that because it was Guy Fawkes that day, the children stayed at home (my audience was still 500 children). Before I started with my rabies presentation, I first told the children how they can help the pets with the noise of the Guy Fawkes crackers. Some of the information in the booklet like “doggie language”, “avoid loud noises” and “shelter & comfort” was useful regarding the expected crackers that evening.” –Marius Vrey (Malmesbury)  

“The schools that I’ve visited and those where I did the presentation were very impressed that the booklet is available in the languages that they speak. Robertson is mostly Afrikaans. They feel that the children better understand the concept of the rabies education with all the pictures included.” –Mercia Williams (Robertson) 

Three thousand copies of the booklet have already been printed for use in the first quarter of 2019, with more in the pipeline for the remainder of the year.

Educational resources such as these are extremely valuable to Veterinary Services to assist in preventing rabies in both animals and humans, as well as promoting healthy relationships between people and animals. The staff of Veterinary Services is most grateful to GARC for the provision of such high-quality educational resources.

Submitted by Lesley Van Helden, Western Cape Government Veterinary Services

If you would like Want a Friend? Be a Friend! booklets designed in a language that is not available on the website, please contact GARC.