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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For years, Faida and her husband had no work, and no means to feed, clothe, or send their six children to school. “We suffered for many years,” she says. “Some of my children were going to school, but in very bad conditions.” They had no food to eat, no shoes to wear, and often went to class without the necessary books. “I can’t even talk about a school bag [backpack] – I had no money to ever buy one for any of the kids. I could never think about buying clothes. At that time, when one of my children was sick, I could not afford to take them to a doctor. Can you imagine that?” she asks. “Seeing your child suffer, and not being able to do anything about it?”
Faida confided that she had been losing hope. Uncertain what she could do, unable to find work to care for her family, she thought about suicide. That day she saw a friend who invited her to go to apply for the Microloan Project with ABFEC (Action Kivu’s partner organization in Congo).
“I got the loan,” Faida says with a smile. “It was a miracle that I had never seen in my life. I started my business, selling cassava flour, and I thank God – everything is going well. With this small business, I am now able to pay the school fees for all my children, buy food for them, and I save some money. ABFEC also gave me a goat, which helps provide fertilizer for my soil. I don’t know how I can describe my former life, but I can say that I have seen a great change in my life because of Action Kivu’s support. Thank you so much to the people who made this possible.”
Thanks to individual donors giving initial investments through Action Kivu, ABFEC’s Microloan Project is up and running in eastern Congo, sustaining itself as the businesswomen re-invest a portion of their proceeds back into the program, funding more and more women to launch their own small businesses.
Your donation enables Action Kivu to continue to fund the Literacy Program and Vocational Trainings that teach the women skills to transform their lives. Consider giving that gift of real hope today!
There are many places for people of all ages to find community in Mumosho, Congo: the church, the local elementary school yards, or a hot day at the Peace Market, where people are happy to be crowded under the market’s roof, selling or buying peppers and fish, bananas and plastic woven bags, happy for respite from the relentless sun or downpour of rain. If the women who are learning sustainable farming on Action Kivu’s Organic Food for All (OFFA) demonstration farms aren’t there at the Market, selling beautiful fruits and vegetables, they may be found down the road, at the Mumosho Women’s Center.
Over at the Center, the place is swarming with, well, women. They move from the sewing workshop to take a break and stretch their limbs outside. They walk down to where the literacy class meets in the afternoon. They swap caring for babies so the teen moms who live at the center get a break.
Outside the Mumosho Women’s Center
But at least once a week, both women and men gather at the Center, where they meet for the community’s weekly empowerment session. Men and women, often with children in tow, gather together at the center to discuss how mismanagement is hurting Congo. And more importantly, how to take ownership of their own actions, the behaviors and relationships that will affect the community and eventually, the entire country.
“We talk about the worth of sharing in the community,” Amani explains. With Action Kivu‘s animal husbandry goat program, the families are required to return to the Women’s Center when the new kid is born, to set into motion the title of the program, “My Goat is Your Goat.” Amani shares the example he shares with the men and women at the weekly meeting. “If you sell the goat without telling the organization, you are just like those who embezzle funds / resources in Congo.” It starts with you. Amani’s face lights up: “The women and men LOVE that. They respond to that.”
Nearby village chiefs are invited to attend, to share the sessions with their communities.
Through this center, these weekly meetings, the entrepreneurial courses and literacy classes, Amani and his staff are providing the education, training, and safe space for people to explore what it means to be those leaders in their own lives, in their personal relationships, in their families, communities, provinces.
“It starts at the micro level,” Amani says. “Change in Congo has to start in our households. If I’m a bad father, in my household, then how am I going to act in the greater community of Congo? We inspire people to be honest in all their transactions, in relationships, in promises, in contracts, to create the Congo we want for our kids.”
I was reminded of the empowerment trainings in Mumosho, Congo, while listening to a re-broadcast of Brené Brown’s conversation with Krista Tippet about the strength of vulnerability, and stepping into hope and the fear of unknown at the same time.
…”It starts by an openness to seeing ourselves and seeing kind of how we’re protecting ourselves from vulnerability. I think that’s where it started. I think … even for me today, I am the most successful doing, you know, this work and trying to be real and transparent and me and feel good in my own skin when I stay very aware of what kind of armor I’m throwing up or when I feel afraid.
“I think maybe the definitive piece of knowing that has helped me with this is that I was raised in a very kind of binary culture. If things were good or bad, you know, you were brave or you were afraid. You were courageous or you were fearful. And I think for me, one of the definitive moments in my life was realizing that most of us are brave and afraid in the exact same moment all day long.”
We’re so honored to work alongside our friends in Congo, who through your support are stepping into and helping create a better present and future for Congo. Read more from our blog to learn about the entrepreneurial programs, the informational meetings, the Peace Market, and more!
If you’d like to set up a recurring monthly donation to support these projects, click here! Every dollar makes a difference to create sustainability and a better future for those we work with in eastern Congo!
“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: