The weeks are just flying by. I can believe we have already been here for 2 months. There is just so much work to be done still and so little time to do it. I do really think that this project could benefit from having some here year round (hopefully that will be me one day).
This week, we managed to attend several group meetings for the numerous parishes to assess and discuss their problems and help them with sustainable solutions. One of the problems many of the groups are having is receiving fair market prices for their goats. Often times, the goats are being sold at times when school fees are due and buyers give a very low price, knowing that the women are in need of the money. Many of our beneficiaries are often receiving less than half of fair market price for an adult goat. We have encouraged women to sell their goats prior to when school fees are due. We have also provided 2 groups with scales so that these women can weigh their goats to prevent the buyers from lying about the weight of their goats. If these groups find the scales helpful, we will provide the other groups with scales. Hopefully this will be a stepping stone towards a fair market price.
This week we also went to many beneficiaries homes to ensure they met the necessary requirements prior to receiving goats during the planned goat ceremony later this week. We were so incredibly impressed. Some women built beautiful goat houses in less than 2 weeks. One lady built her pen in 1 day. They were all so eager to receive their first or second goat that they wanted to make sure they met all of the requirements. As a result, we were able to hand out 20 goats in 2 goat hand-out ceremonies. One of the ceremony was in very isolated area far from town called Kahenda. The women were so appreciate of our help and were really grateful that we had chosen to come to their parish all the way from Canada. During the ceremony, the local council, FAOC staff and us gave speaches and then we handed out the goats to each excited member. We were also provided with an amazing meal as a sign of appreciation. The FAOC members also performed a traditional song and dance for us which was very special.
There were also some other very memorable moments of this day.
- The chairperson Katrina received a buck during the pass on ceremony but because she was also trying to prepare lunch for us, she needed to rush home once the ceremony was finished. Instead of walking the buck home, she threw him over her shoulders as if he was weightless and walked home briskly (it was not a short walk).
- We provided rides home to some of the very old beneficiaries who had to walk far distances. Two of the ladies had never been in a vehicle and they had to be shown how to open and close the car door. That was very precious to see the confused and surprised looks on their faces when they were in the car and also to allow them to experience a car ride.
- One of the members receiving a goat on this day was the most excited and appreciative member thus far. This young lady is the daughter to one of our very elderly FAOC beneficiaries. This lady worked very hard to build a goat pen and we had helped her along by providing her with nails initially and a lock once the pen was complete. Every time we came to her place she provided us with tea and mondazis (baked goods) and sent us home with fruits. She was so happy for our visits. Furthermore, because I knew she had such a far distance to walk to come to the goat ceremony, I provided her with a pair of running shoes. The next day she came walking so proudly in her new shoes. After the ceremony, we drove her and her goat home. The whole car ride home she was so happy to be in a vehicle with us, to have received a goat and to have received new shoes. The FAOC staff said that they have never seen anyone so happy! When we reached her home, she gave us a sac full of avocados (well over 100). We tried and tried to get her to keep them, but she insisted. Now, all of the FAOC staff, family and friends have enough avocados to last them a long time!
It was just such a good feeling to brighten so many peoples’ day that much. This could not have happened without the generous support of those who donated to VWB/VSF, so I am so very grateful to all of you for your contributions! It has really made a significant impact on many families lives.
All the best,
Laura & Jessica