Cynthia is not like most 9-year-olds. When she comes home from school, her first priority is not to watch TV or make a snack for herself. She doesn’t start on her homework right away or take an afternoon nap, either. The first thing Cynthia does when she gets home from school is to check on her goat. And she has good reason, because this goat is sending her to school.
Cynthia is one of 127 students affected by ADRA’s sponsorship program. But it is not simply the cash-for-tuition style sponsorship. Such a program is unsustainable—when the cash is gone, it’s gone. A goat, however, is the gift that keeps giving. Especially a female goat, which keeps giving as many as three times a year. And in the agrarian Gatsibo district of eastern Rwanda, such a gift is well received. The manure fertilizes the crops, which in turn feed the goats and the people, creating an expanding system of health and prosperity.
Dan, an 8-year-old recipient of a goat, has passed the generosity on to his neighbors in a very literal way. When his goat gave birth to two kids, he gave one to the family next door. “I wanted to contribute to peace,” he said. In the post-genocide society, these gestures are invaluable for fostering unity, and have not gone unnoticed. Many other students have given baby goats to their neighbors as well.
These results are exactly what ADRA strives for. Giving money is useful but very temporary. A goat, however, teaches sustainability and accountability, and binds the community in a common goal. And yes, it provides income, too—far more in the long run than could be given in a single monetary donation.
Cynthia’s mother knows this, having observed how her daughter cares for the goat and responsibly reap the benefits. “I am no longer worried about my daughter’s studies,” she said. “Her goat will allow her to complete her studies without any problems.”
Some students need tutors, some need a special curriculum, and others just need a goat.