Action Kivu’s My Goat is Your Goat program not only gives families an animal that provides income and good standing in the community, it creates paths for conversation and community building between people of different tribes.
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It’s wedding season! Looking for a unique gift? Make a donation on behalf of the happy couple! An $80 gift to Action Kivu buys a healthy goat for a family in eastern Congo. Donate online!
In Shi culture, the dominant tribe in the areas where we work in eastern Congo, a goat represents good standing in the community, as they are payment for dowries in marriage, or given as gifts as a sign of cementing goodwill and friendship. They’ve also come to represent the rooting in connection and community inherent in Action Kivu’s programs. In “My Goat is Your Goat,” one family’s goat becomes the mother of the next family’s goat, passing one kid forward, growing the family, one goat at a time.
$80 is the cost of buying one goat for a family in Congo, and Action Kivu is working to raise funds to buy more goats to expand the program in Congo, which currently serves 600 people in area of 50,000. Our goal for 2017 is to buy milk goats from Uganda ($185 to purchase and properly transport the goat to Mumosho, DRC), to expand the animal husbandry program to milking and making cheese, not only to combat the malnutrition that is a cause of death for children under 5, but to provide new entrepreneurial opportunities for the women in Congo to earn income and invest in the future of their children!
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Meet Nshokano Patrick, and his goat.
“Our goat is our wealth,” says Nshokano Patrick. “We’ll bring back one of these small goats to ABFEC [Action Kivu’s partner organization in Congo] and keep one small goat and the big goat. My mom has said she will sell our small goat for her to start a small business to make sure she can start taking care of us.”
Goats show good standing in the community in eastern Congo, as Amani explained to Action Kivu’s leadership team: “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.” The “pay it forward” model contributes to a stronger sense of community. 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.
$80 is the cost of buying one goat for a family in Congo, and Action Kivu is working to raise funds to buy two more goats a month to expand the program in Congo, which currently serves 540 people in area of 50,000.
Want to know a little more about goats? According to this piece on TreeHugger.com, published in response to the debate over whether the Chinese New Year was that of the goat, or the sheep, writer Melissa Breyer explained: “While both hail from the subfamily Caprinae, sheep and goats diverge at the genus level and arrive as distinct species. Sheep (Ovis aries) have 54 chromosomes; goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) have 60. Sheep–goat hybrids – yes, a geep or shoat – do exist, but they are rare. Behold the baby geep below. Awww!”
Breyer continues: “A main difference between the two is how they forage. Sheep are grazers; they ramble slowly eating short plants close to the ground. Goats are browsers; they look for leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs. And their agility allows them to attain charming positions in pursuit of their forage…
“Because they browse, goats spend a lot of time investigating things. They are forever nibbling on and eating things,” Cathy Dwyer, a professor at Scotland’s Rural College, tells NPR. “So they have more exploratory, investigate behavior because of their feeding style. They appear to be more interactive with the environment, and they are very engaging animals.”
We find them to be very engaging animals, too, changing the lives of the women, children, and families we work alongside in Congo! Consider partnering with the people of Congo through a monthly donation to Action Kivu to help us continue these programs.
(Photo credit: [Top] Nshokano courtesy Amani Matabaro, ABFEK / Action Kivu, [Bottom] courtesy TreeHugger.com / YouTube)