Monday, February 20, 2012

Got Goat? AKA ¿Tienes Cabra?

after purchasing the hay, we made them into sheaves for drying
Once upon a time there were lots of kids being born in the villages of el salvador. this was not a new occurrence as we all know - these things can happen. in fact, kerrie-lynn & i found out benjamin was already 5 months along in the womb - and annah was only 10 months old! anyway, the big difference in the villages of el salvador is that so many of these kids had no dad's or even if they did, they didn't have quite enough to eat day to day. so much so that many had anemia and other health problems... back home in the land of plenty, we would have formula and milk and all sorts of things to prevent such problems, but here they have corn and beans and that's about all. so... we thought about buying some powdered milk for these kids in need, but that would cost an arm and a leg. so we thought, "hey, what if we buy a goat for that family and then they could have milk everyday for a lot less cash out of pocket and it would keep producing for a long time!" we bought 9 goats for 9 families, but too often the lack of training was not getting the potential out of these animals. we needed education, not just handouts! this brought us to our friend from san salvador, pastor ricardo. he has a friend, armando, in his church who has done tons of training with goat operations and he had a vision to help the poor of el salvador... we sat down one afternoon for a few hours and he explained...

the apriso (barn) under construction

no nail pouch required when you have a mouth ;-)
expert welder at work
armando told us about the lack of quality goats in el salvador and that a well run operation could be a wonderful business opportunity. he shared with us the many times world vision and other organizations had worked with him to provide goats to families. without exception, these goats were handed out to families with very little training - then they would hope for the best... he told us most of those goats produced milk at first, but without training, they stopped producing and were eaten for the christmas dinner. a great meal, but an unrealized potential. he shared his vision of a co-operative made up of 6 - 12 families who run a small barn with 25 milk goats. the members of the co-op would be trained in handling, caring for, milking, feed, etc... he also shared his dream of these families learning incredibly valuable skills in running a small business. you see, in the land of el salvador there just aren't jobs falling off the trees for people to pick up and support their families with. more often then not they need to create a job. thus, training in small business is essential. in a world where the poor have been told what to do for so long and never taught how or why or to think ahead, these skills are like gold! armando showed us pictures of the barn idea. he gave us a budget to do one barn. he shared a dream of four of these barns going up in 4 villages and all 4 providing the female offspring to a central "planta" or large barn where they would work genetics magic to improve the milk output as well as the meat quality. he opened our eyes to the potential for these co-op families - selling milk in their village, drinking it themselves, gifting milk to newborn babies, making cheese, raising and eating/selling the male offspring, receiving better quality animals from the planta down the road a couple years, running a thriving business, and on and on... after the meeting we just knew a partnership with armando and pastor ricardo was the way to go. we didn't come here to give a hand out, but a hand UP. to give families opportunity for a brighter tomorrow. to bring the things of heaven to earth in this corner of the land. we knew if this was blessed by the Lord, it could reproduce itself in and even fund other co-op's to get off the ground. folks from the village, helping folks in another village, or even down the road!

armando thought best to do a trial with some baby goats we borrowed from a nearby farm...

we started with a need, attempted to help with $75 goats, moved up to $150 goats, and now have felt led to this co-op where the barn, equipment and startup costs works out to about $180 per goat. a small price to pay extra for a real chance to change lives long term. this is likely where some of the confusion has come on costs, and after the first one is completed, we will likely adjust again... and just maybe one day we will be supplying future projects and farms with the best goats in the country!

armando (got goat expert)

co-op meeting with armando in san antonio

today, we have one barn built, minus a couple small details like the water system to complete. last week the co-operative bought and cut hay for feed and hauled it back to the barn. we hope to have everything set in place to receive the goats in the next week. so all that is left is finding and securing the purchase of the goats - best case 2 weeks out! we will have lots of pictures and updates then for sure. we have plans to start the next barns soon depending on funds, etc. we are excited about the potential here, and feel like once this one takes off - we will have a list of others wanting to create more and more co-operatives of the same style...

but... we know we need a gift from God for unity, ability to work together, honesty, integrity, co-operation, and a rich blessing of harvest from these animals and this project. we will be giving back to God the first and best of this project and are thankful to all those who have raised the cash to make this come to reality! school kids giving presentations in their classrooms, others giving out of their piggy banks (maybe i should say 'goatybanks'), others have collected bottles and bought goats with the proceeds recycle money, and a mountain of got goat? shirts sold so far. i think the simple/tangible way to help the obvious need of young children needing proper nutrition has hit a chord with so many. back home we just go to the grocery store and by milk. for millions here in el salvador this just isn't an option as a litre of milk costs half a days wages or more for these families! imagine how much milk you'd buy in canada if it cost $100 per litre. so we say thank you, thank you, thank you and hope you will share in the joy of these families as this first barn gets up and running.

aprisco with the sheaves leaning up around the corals - photo from today
...the End.