Goat and little boy

A Goat


Why Goats?  

Children in every village in Darfur are malnourished.  UNICEF has warned that there are already 80,000 children who are severely malnourished in the villages of Darfur, and this number is rising . They need urgent help if they are to survive. Goat’s milk is the nearest thing to mother’s milk. It is easily digestible and is full of protein, minerals and vitamins – essential for health. Without protein, children’s hair becomes bleached of colour. That is just one of the outer signs. Bones, teeth and even brain cells are compromised. Violence, soaring inflation, and the devaluation of the Sudanese pound in the wake of the loss of the oil revenue following the creation of South Sudan, have combined to further impoverish families in Darfur. They cannot afford to feed their children. Mothers watched their little ones fade before their eyes. In 2013 every village reported children dying from malnutrition.

This is why the Kids for Kids’ Goat Loan Project is saving so many lives. The loan of five little Nanny goats gives children milk immediately. The sale of excess milk and yoghurt gives a small income to mothers who have never had a chance before. Khajida said “My goats enable me to make decisions for my family for the first time in my life”.

After two years the same miracle happens again –  the family pass first born fertile offspring to another family in need …… In another two years, they too pass on kid goats. Eventually the whole community benefits. The Governor of North Darfur called the Kids for Kids’ Goat Loan project “the best micro finance scheme ever”.

Darfur is a harsh environment. Tough for both humans and animals. Drought is cyclical. Plants are stunted. For two thirds of the year very little grows. There is no surface water in the summer ‘hungry’ months and in bad years animals die. Goats are the hardiest of creatures. They will survive when nothing else does. When the grass is plentiful, they graze like sheep, nibbling the grass, but when there is virtually nothing available, they will pull up the plants and even eat the roots. This is why they have a bad name for causing desertification. But it is not goats that devastate the land. It is the encroaching Sahara as global warming continues, and the huge herds of cows and camel that belong to nomads, which turn the land to desert.  In Darfur, farmers know how to try to preserve their land, and those lucky enough to have a few goats, take them to where they will not cause a problem. They stay with them all day, moving the animals on every 20 minutes or so, so that they do not strip the land bare.

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Product Description

Q. How does the Goat Loan work?   KIDS FOR KIDS lends goats to a family for 2 years – providing milk for the children, and forming the nucleus of a little flock. Due to the high cost of Billy goats in Darfur, we are currently lending each family 5 Nanny goats, with 1 Billy goat for 3 families. The beneficiaries agree not to sell the KIDS FOR KIDS goats and they sign an undertaking to care for them in trust – but the kids are theirs. After 2 years they pass on  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. Q. How long do Desert Goats live? 12 to 15 years. Q. Do you know how to tell a sheep from a goat? A goat’s tail sticks up! A sign of optimism perhaps? Q. Are goats suitable for desert life? Goats only drink every two days in hard times – which makes them viable when water is scarce. Local goats are hardy, essential when the temperatures soar in the summer to over 150 degrees. Q. What do goats eat? Anything! Which is why they can survive when nothing much is growing. But to prevent them from destroying the landscape the children keep them closely herded and all “fields” are surrounded by thorn hedges to keep them safe. Q. What colour are they? They are multi-coloured, sometimes black, sometimes white, but usually a mixture of chestnut, browns and blacks. Rugs made of goat hair are these natural colours. Q. Who looks after the goats? It is usually the children you see tending the goats and helping them to find food so families prosper if the children do a good job – education is a priority in Sudan, the success of the goats means that they can pay for schooling. When the children are at school mothers care for the animals. We now have Children’s Shepherd Committee as the children care for the goats after school – they are often the first to notice if a goat is sick. They inspect all the Kids for Kids goats in all of our 92 villages every Friday – which in Sudan is the first day of the weekend! Q. Why is goats milk important? It is full of vitamins – A, which prevents blindness, B, B+, C, D, E, potassium, magnesium, folic acid and is rich in carbohydrates, calcium and protein. Particularly in times of drought, as now, it is the only source of these vital elements to keep children healthy. Any excess milk is sold. Often the price of a sack of millet is talked about in the number of goats it is worth. You can even find the price of goats in Darfur on the internet! Q. How are the KIDS FOR KIDS goats surviving now? The news is good – the grazing returned this year and most of our nanny goats had twins. In past years, some goats have died because people had not been able to store sufficient hay for the hungry months, when the harvest failed.  But many succeed – one lady had 19 goats after just 10 months. This meant she not only had milk for her own children, she could sell some and was able to sell one or two of the male kids to provide essentials for her family.