We’ve been treated to many cups of delicious Kenyan chai during our three weeks here, but the cups we sipped on Monday were extra special. We spent the day visiting beneficiaries of the goat-rearing income generation project, starting with Aemel, a woman who lives in the Lureko district and received two goats from WOPLAH. As we sat in Aemel’s living room after touring her impressive kitchen garden, poultry operation, and goat pen, she poured us steaming cups of caramel colored tea made with milk from her own goats. As we sipped the deliciously nutritious and extra-creamy chai, Aemel talked about how the goats she received from WOPLAH and GlobeMed at CC have impacted her family. Having the goats allows her to save money on milk and even provides the prospect of income generation since she will soon be able to sell the kids, raising money for additional food as well as her children’s school fees. It was exciting to see (and taste!) a project we have been talking about and fundraising for since the fall of 2012 come to fruition.
The goal of the goat project is two-fold: to provide families with a reliable source of nutrition in the form of goat milk, and to provide income generation through the sale of baby goats. Goat-rearing seems to be an example of a truly sustainable and far-reaching income generating activity. One of the stipulations of receiving a goat is that the first kid be gifted to another family, so the program can continue to grow and impact more families. In addition, the beneficiaries themselves will be in charge of managing the program- Aemel, who was one of the first beneficiaries, is now being trained to help with monitoring and expansion.
As we walked around Lureko, visiting the people to whom the original 20 goats were distributed, we heard about the benefits that come from the nutrition provided by the milk and the income generated by the sale of goats. Another benefit of the goat program that is harder to discern but just as important as these concrete benefits is the role the goat-rearing plays in stigma reduction. When community members see HIV+ people raising and selling goats to support themselves, they realize that people living positively are still living full and successful lives.