In October 2003, seven women from La Gonâve, Haiti sat crowded on wooden benches in a dark, windowless room, anxious to learn how to be goat farmers. One of the women spoke up that day to say that she did not want to rely on the handouts of family or neighbors … she wanted to take care of herself. Today, YaYa is still a goat farmer. With her goats, she is able to feed her family and to send her two grandsons to school.
Now, ten years after that first class, the La Gonâve Goat Project has trained more than 300 farmers, both men and women living in rural communities across the island. Many farmers have shared their stories of becoming self-sufficient, of families well-nourished, or children attending school.
There’s the elderly woman who stood up during a church service and asked to speak to the congregation. Instead of making a statement of her faith she began to tell of the goat project and how it had saved her life. By selling goats at the local market, she was able to raise the money necessary for her travel to the mainland and for her medical care at the hospital in Port-au-Prince.
There’s the single mother of 4 young children who raises goats as her only source of income. The goats give her comfort, knowing that her family will eat each day, will learn to read and write, and will stay healthy. She knows that one goat can change a life forever … and she gives her poorer neighbor one of her own does to start a herd.
There’s the father who walks 2 hours to bring his goats to the veterinary clinic for deworming and vitamins. He takes good care of his goats so that he can pay for his children to go to school, to buy their uniforms, and to purchase school supplies. He sees a future of hope for his family.
The goat project empowers Haitian men and women to become self-sufficient. Following 3 days of training on the proper care and feeding of a goat, each new farmer is given a pregnant doe to start his or her own herd. Goats from the La Gonâve Goat Project are meatier than local goats and sell well at market. Farmers enrolled in the program receive regular veterinary care for their animals and access to Boer bucks for rebreeding of their does.
There is a long list of Haitians waiting for the chance to provide healthy food and safe shelter for their families, to educate their children, and to build a hopeful future. For $180, you can enroll a farmer and his family in the La Gonâve Goat Project. Your gift is one that will last a lifetime.