For centuries, large gatherings and special celebrations across Africa have called for goat meat. In rural Ngaamba, Kenya, this is especially true, as goats are a staple for milk and food. That’s why introducing a new breed of goat to this community brought about such remarkable change.
One of the benefits of Compassion programs is that our Implementing Church Partners help customize programs for the community. At St. James Church in Ngaamba, Center Director Margaret Wavinya knew goats could bring life-altering support to this agriculturally based community. The average family income of $20-25 USD per month is rarely enough to feed the large families, most of which have six to nine children.
Wavinya submitted a Complementary Interventions proposal to purchase five Toggenburg goats. The Toggenburg is a hardy breed of goat known for high milk production. It’s also not a local goat, so introducing it to the area meant it was an extremely valuable asset for breeding. When cross bred with the indigenous breed, the offspring not only produce more milk, but create a very lucrative profit when sold.
When a local goat is bred with one of Compassion’s Toggenburg goats, the value of that offspring increases four times! Not only is the value higher, but a new goat offspring can produce up to two liters of milk per day. After a Compassion beneficiary family uses their share of the goat milk, they can sell the rest to supplement income, as it is in high demand at the local market.
The goats purchased were so impressive that they were considered to be shown at a prestigious government auction. The Department of Agriculture came to the church and inspected the goats. Just for showing at this auction, the goat could be sold for approximately $585 USD, and auction winners sold for more than $1,000 USD. While the goats were not selected for auction this past year, Wavinya is hopeful their now 14 non-native goats will soon bring breeding distinction to the community.
“We looked at the community and saw unproductive goats. Now we’ve changed the mind in these people to see different values in goats.”
Compassion provides the goats for breeding exclusively with Compassion beneficiary caregiver goats, offering help on goat care as well. Since this training is in partnership with the local church, the community also receives teaching about Jesus.
Peter Munyao is one who has felt the ripple effect of the Toggenburg. His 12-year-old daughter, Rhoda, attends the Compassion child development center at St. James Church.
The father of three worked as a casual laborer, earning about three dollars per week. He owned a she-goat and heard that because his daughter was registered with Compassion, he could take his she-goat to breed with a male Toggenburg. Now, with the goat offspring, he has doubled his income. He continues to fatten the goat and around Christmas, will sell it for a large profit.
“I was interested in goats and I learned what’s profitable. I was sitting on so much potential and now I can utilize that potential and harness food security. It’s very good for my family. Now we have more nutritious food and the children are happy.”
For years, Peter and his wife didn’t know why their three children were often ill. Now, thanks to training provided by Compassion through the local church, Peter’s family has changed their hygiene and eating habits. The fresh goat milk brings much needed protein into the children’s diets.
Peter’s children want to continue in their father’s footsteps and learn from him about goats. And it won’t stop with just teaching them. Peter also dreams of training others in his community about goats. With pride in his eyes, he explains his vision for the future.
“In the next two or three years, I will have my own goat business. I will own land and a place to keep the goats. I can start a goat milking society. The goats give me confidence.”
Not only have goats offered Peter confidence, but the experience has brought him closer to Jesus Christ.
“The Church gave me hope. I decided not to kill myself. Now I’m doing well. When you have hope that everything is alright, it is alright.”
Where there was once shame, goats have brought dignity. Where there was once worry, goats have brought hope. And in rural Kenya, a community is changed and the ripple effect of the Toggenburg continues.