“In Shi culture, [a tribe in eastern Congo] it is a cultural idea that a goat is good standing in the community. When you marry a woman, you give a cow AND a goat,” Amani told us at lunch in a Westwood cafe crammed with college students. They hovered over their laptops, taking for granted the constant electricity and espresso drinks that fueled their studies, unaware that they could be eavesdropping on an inspiring man who might teach them more than a semester of Anthro 101.
My Goat is Your Goat is a husbandry project Amani started for the community Action Kivu serves in Mumosho, DRC. It is a wild success, Amani reported to us on his recent fundraising trip to the U.S. Not only does it serve the people in a place where a goat acts as money to buy land, or as a gift in marriage, but it builds trust in a place where trauma has torn neighbors apart.
Not only can the women sell the additional kids to earn income for their families, and use the goat feces for fertilizer to grow better crops of food, but they can participate in their community in a meaningful way. Before his long journey to the U.S., Amani had made one last visit to the Mumosho Women’s Center, where three women were bringing baby goats to pass them on to the next neighbor. They were so excited to be able to do that, he told us.
“If I want to buy a piece of land from you, we can count it in terms of goats. If I want to immortalize our friendship, I give you a goat. If that happens, our friendship is solid. Valuable. Through My Goat is Your Goat, the neighbors share the babies of the gifted goat. For a poor woman to have a goat, it gives her pride. It means: ‘I am somebody in the community.’ It is social, community building.” Amani points to Cate, co-founder of Action Kivu, to illustrate. “Cate is keeping the goat, but I know the baby will come to me. The goat owner is now accountable to the organization and to me. The goat owner is now accountable to the organization and to me,” Amani repeats, to emphasize how important that is in a place where people have so little.
In our western world where giving a goat to a neighbor might not mean as much as it does in Congo, we hope you can find ways to connect with your community, to be accountable to each other. Your donations to Action Kivu are a way to connect and partner with the people of Mumosho make possible these life-changing programs! Thank you for your ongoing generosity.
Read more about Action Kivu’s work in Congo here: