An investment for the future – goats for refugee families in northern Uganda

Nov 08, 2018
As a truck of bleating goats appears on a soccer field near Imvepi refugee settlement in northern Uganda, a young girl and her grandmother spring to their feet. Ten-year-old Susan and 80-year-old Amelia have been eagerly awaiting their arrival for weeks. They join a queue of dozens of other women and children all equally excited. There are 250 goats to be distributed today, a pair for each refugee family in need of special assistance. 

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

“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,” Amelia says excitedly.

Purchased through the World Vision Gift Catalogue, these goats are the first of 860 goats that will be delivered to 430 families from refugee and host communities in the area.

As manager of product alignment at World Vision Canada, Shanaz Sutherland knows the difference these goats can make. She and her team ensure that what World Vision does overseas is consistent with what is communicated to Canadians. 

“If you buy a goat through the Gift Catalogue, we make sure that means a goat is programmed somewhere in the world,” says Shanaz. 
Some of the goats distributed at the Imvepi settlement in northern Uganda. Photo: Moses Mukitale

Often, this means animals purchased at Christmas are incorporated into long term projects in communities where sponsored children live. Other times, they go to support families on the move who are making a new start.

The benefit to families like Amelia’s in increased health, nutrition, and income leads to better outcomes in school for children, and a greater sense of stability in the community.

“We want families to succeed and to that end, we want the animals to thrive in their new homes,” Shanaz says.

Back in Uganda, Susan and Amelia reach the front of the queue, World Vision staff encourage Susan to pick out two goats of her choice. She looks at the herd for a moment and then points toward two brown ones. She likes the colour. Her grandmother nods in approval.

As the goats are handed over, Susan picks one up, then the other. These are her new-found friends. For a girl of her age without siblings to play with, these goats are more than just livestock.

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. I will also be taking them to eat and bring them water to drink,” says a bubbly Susan.

Susan fled with her grandmother to Uganda after losing contact with her parents when violence broke out in South Sudan. During the chaos, Susan ran to her grandmother’s home and hid. When the fighting waned, the two escaped to Uganda. One year later, they have yet to hear from their family members.

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

The training Amelia received includes how to manage the milk these goats produce, and tools to help her create a business as her herd grows.

According to Noel Anzo, the World Vision project coordinator for the animal gift catalogue project, in one year a goat produces up to four kids. This means each of the 430 beneficiaries in this project will reap multiple rewards in the next 12 months.

Noel adds that beneficiaries also receive agro-forestry seeds to grow food for their livestock. 

World Vision has also trained ten community veterinary officers under this project to ensure that if the animals become sick, they will be treated. The veterinary officers serve both refugees and host communities and have received bicycles for transportation. They have also been given start-up kits containing basic veterinary drugs and tools. 

“These goats are a very big liberation for us… We have been trained on how to look after them, how to feed them and how to spot various sicknesses,” Amelia explains. 

Through the World Vision Gift Catalogue, goats, chickens and other animals provided 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 produce milk, eggs - and big changes for families like Amelia’s.

Through your generosity, you can help communities build a brighter future.

By Moses Mukitale, edited by Alison Ralph