Head over Hooves: refugee families welcome new “kids” into their homes

Nov 15, 2018
Amelia and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Susan, eagerly await the arrival of their two new family members. They aren’t alone: dozens of families are here today, all equally excited for the delivery of kids (baby goats) from World Vision’s Gift Catalogue. 

“We’ve been waiting and imagining how the goats will look. Finally, they are here. It’s good they’ve come in a rainy season when the grass is young and tender,” remarks Amelia.


Scenes from Imvepi refugee reception center in Arua district, northern Uganda. Photo: Theodore Sam

Several months ago, violent attacks broke out in South Sudan, forcing separation between Susan and her parents. Terrified, Susan hid with her grandmother before fleeing to Northern Uganda for safety. It’s been a year now, and they still haven’t heard from their family back home. Many of the families lining up to receive goats have faced painful circumstances and are seeking refuge in Northern Uganda. 

But today, a truck overflowing with happy goats awaits them. About 250 goats are about to be distributed – a pair for each refugee family in need. 


The first batch of 250 goats loaded in a truck at Imvepi refugee settlement. Did you know that goats love being together in confined spaces? Photo: Moses Mukitale

More goats will arrive in the days to come, with many benefiting elders, foster parents, child-headed households and people with disabilities. 

As Susan and Amelia finally reach the front of the long line, World Vision staff encourage the young girl to pick out two goats. Susan looks at the herd for a moment, then gestures toward two brown ones. She likes the colour – her grandmother nods in approval.

She picks one up, then the other, embracing them tenderly. It’s clear they will all be friends. For a girl of her age who doesn’t have siblings play with, these goats are more than just livestock to her.


80-year-old Amelia and her granddaughter Susan, 10. The two received goats at Imvepi refugee settlement in Northern Uganda. The goats were purchased through the World Vision Gift Catalogue. Photo: Moses Mukitale

“I will play with them whenever I come back from school,” says Susan, brimming with joy. “I will also be taking them to eat and bring them water to drink.”

But these goats go beyond companionship. Many of them will provide a sustainable source of income and nutrition, if the family decides to breed and sell the animals or their milk. 

As part of the preparation the goat owners receive, Amelia and Susan were trained on how to feed and look after them. “These goats don’t require [much] energy. They will feed on their own,” Amelia explains. “They’re a very big liberation for us.”

Through the World Vision Gift Catalogue, goats and other animals are part of a broader community development plan. Animals are purchased locally and distributed to families in need along with feed, training and other support. These animals mean big changes for families like Amelia’s. This Christmas, give love to the world with meaningful gifts.​

Written by Moses Mukitale, Communication Officer, World Vision West Nile Refugee Response, South Sudan
Edited by Leanna Parekh, Writer with World Vision Canada