Kids for Kids lends 5 nanny goats to a family for 2 years, and a billy goat shared between three families – providing milk for the children, and forming the nucleus of a little flock. Families agree not to sell the Kids for Kids goats and to care for them in trust – but the kids are theirs. After 2 years they pass on 5 first born offspring to another family in need. And so on! Donating even one little goat makes an enormous difference because its offspring will go to another family, and another.
Goats have a bad name in the West for causing desertification. Why then do the very people who suffer the consequences of such destruction of their own environment beg us for them? Before launching our Goat Loan scheme – the Kids for Kids loans that make such a difference to children in Darfur – Patricia Parker, Founder and CEO, did a great deal of research, which continues!
Drought is a major recurring problem in many parts of Africa. People have large herds of cattle, camels and sheep. When crops and grazing fail, these animals cannot survive and the farming families and nomads are left with nothing to eat. The only chance is the little goat who, in good times, crops the grass in exactly the same way as sheep, nibbling the tops. In hard times they survive on twigs and leaves. Often people see goats on scrub land and say “look what the goats have done”. Sadly it is often the vast herds of cows and sheep which have over grazed the land and the only creature with a chance of surviving is then the humble goat.
In Darfur what we see is that every single goat is watched the whole time it is out foraging – by mothers whilst children are at school, and by children later in the day. No goat is allowed to destroy crops or valuable vegetation. In the height of summer, goats are often taken to the wadi (dry river bed) areas where trees and shrubs grow and they can find something on which to survive.
Kids for Kids’ Animal Husbandry Training – a first for Darfur! We were told that everyone knew how to rear their animals – but research showed us that many goats were dying because of eating poisonous plants, or catching diseases – which are curable if treated in time. Our Animal Husbandry Courses not only benefit the recipients of our Animal Loan schemes, but whole communities. Our first course was in the shade of a tamarind tree!
At the first Kids for Kids Workshop in El Fasher we asked the leaders of 17 communities who came to see us if they had any worries about the goats destroying the landscape and causing desertification. Their answer was unanimous: “We do not allow them to damage anything. Any animal left to roam freely would cause damage, particularly in large numbers, but no one wants huge herds of goats. We use them for their milk and to help us provide the very basics of life.”
These are people who spend hours collecting every drop of water their families need, yet who also lovingly water tree seedlings because they know how important they are in protecting the environment.
“It is arrogant of the West to dictate whether or not these poor farming families should own goats or not” says Patricia. “They know how best to care for their land and they work incredibly hard to do so – and they beg Kids for Kids for goats to help their children.”