Lester Lemus, Community Adviser
Lester works for Brooke partner ESAP ("Healthy Equines for the People") in Guatemala.
What time does your alarm go off and how do you start your day?
It depends but usually about 6am. Hugo (ESAP vet) is my alarm when he walks down the stairs! After I wake I ask God for direction for the day and prepare breakfast: eggs and frijoles (black beans).
What are you responsible for in your role at Brooke?
Lots of things as I have been with ESAP for 10 years! My main responsibility is capacity building a variety of community stakeholders in equine welfare, from local service providers to owners. Training people in equine handling is one of my main roles and helping the other members of the ESAP team
How did you get your job?
The Rural American Veterinary Services (RAVS) used to be supported by Brooke, and I was the president of the local development committee. RAVS asked two people for support in the area. When Brooke policies changed, ESAP was formed, so I have been with ESAP since the very beginning.
What’s your typical day?
After Hugo wakes me up I will check all the materials and tools needed for the day. I will then talk to owners to arrange arrival times in communities. We typically work in two communities in a day and in the morning we get to the field about 8am. Morning sessions are usually promotional, so we go to schools or the local authorities to give publicity talks.
In the afternoon we tend to run training sessions with owners on equine handling and welfare. We sometimes use megaphones to announce our arrival in communities. We only reach two communities a day as we work in remote areas that are far apart from each other.
What’s your most memorable work moment?
We were running an activity on lifting horses’ legs (most owners never do this) and we had a very aggressive mare. We tried so hard to work with her but we were not successful. That makes me feel sad as we can usually work well with the animals in our communities.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Having to advise on euthanasia or trying to advise owners against harmful invasive practices such as the surgeries that traditional healers sometimes do. It is hard to not be able to do more sometimes.
I remember one time there was an owner with three mares and they had been mistreated. However, we worked with them for a few days and in the end the small daughters were riding them and taking good care of them.
What is the best part of your job?
Being familiar with equids and seeing positive changes in people. When we started training people in rational handling, I remember one time there was an owner with three mares and they had been mistreated. However, we worked with them for a few days and in the end the small daughters were riding them and taking good care of them.
What would be your Plan B? What would you be doing if you didn't work at Brooke?
I like the beach so I would be a fisherman at sea.
What do you do after work?
Sleep - we work very long hours!
What makes you proud to be Brooke?
At 250,000, Guatemala has the highest number of equines in Central America with a major proportion living in rural and poor communities.