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In Kaptipada village of Mayurbhanj District in Orissa, India lives a hardworking couple. Dashrathi and Fulomani Murmu have dedicated their lives to serving their community by taking care of their livestock. Dashrathi is mainly known within the community as the small animals’ doctor, while Fulomani is the village poultry doctor. Both are trained vaccinators.

The couple’s services are filling a huge gap left by the lack of veterinary service in their community. For a long time, no trained vaccinator has catered to the needs of small ruminants and poultry in their community as the only government employed livestock inspector was vaccinating large animals only. And yet, most families within the community keep small animals and poultry as a source of livelihood.

The couple became vaccinators by chance when GALVmed, in partnership with a local NGO, Bhodal Milk Producers Cooperative Society (BMPCS) introduced a training programme for vaccinators in the control of Newcastle Disease. Fulomani, who was then a member of a self-help group in the village, was invited to the training by Piyush Mishra who runs another local NGO in the area.   While attending the training, Fulomani who had an infant baby was often accompanied by her husband Dashrathi who would take care of the baby while training was in session. The trainer, Dr. Kornel Das spotted Dashrathi’s keen interest in the training course and asked him to join the group.

After completing the training course, the couple went back to serve their community. Initially this was not easy, but after earning the trust of the community members especially when chickens stopped dying, their services become very popular and in demand. These days, they are often called upon by the government’s veterinary department to carry out vaccinations of livestock during scheduled campaigns.

Since starting their vaccination business three years ago, the couple has played a big role in controlling outbreaks of Newcastle Disease in Mayurbhanj district where they serve about 900 families in seven villages. Their work has had a significant impact on the community. Families who used to keep between six and eight chickens are now able to keep between thirty to forty chickens because of vaccinations. This has a multiplier effect in the overall outlook of their lives as their earnings from poultry increase.

On the other hand, the couple has also been able to build a successful business.   From their modest coolers, which they transport using their newly purchased bicycle, they stock a limited supply of the Newcastle Disease vaccine, anthelmintic and some first aid medicines that they can supply to other vaccinators. In total, they earn a monthly income of about 10,000 Indian Rupees (US $158) . With the extra income generated, they have recently started a chick rearing centre and are planning to purchase day old chicks from a nearby government hatchery to rear them for a month before selling them off to villagers for crossbreeding with their village poultry.

Reflecting on their successful venture Fulomani says that it has improved their lives tremendously. “When our child was recently sick with malaria, we were able to pay the 24,000 Indian Rupees (US $380) required by the hospital for treatment, something that we could not afford before we started,” she says.

The couple are grateful for the training they received and are very optimistic about their future. They plan to expand their services to other communities and have plans of buying a motorcycle to do this.  They would like to educate their seven children to become doctors or engineers.