At the end of the summer, I traveled to Haiti to spend a couple of weeks visiting projects with Heifer Haiti staff.
Five-year-old Kenflore Theard likes taking care of her family’s goats.
“I take them to the pasture in the morning,” she said, “and (later) I will get them and put them back in the pen. I give them water and grass for food, and after that, I put them in the pasture (again).”
Kenflore’s favorite part of the process is feeding the goats. She also helps milk the mother goat when she needs a little help feeding her kids.
When asked why she likes looking after the goats so much, she responded in typical five-year-old fashion: “I just like it.”
“She is the most important (family member, when it comes to the goats),” said Kenflore’s mother, Jeanne Odne Elfine. “When I’m not at the house, she looks after the goats and protects them from the sun.
“She’s very intelligent.”
Jeanne, Kenflore and the rest of the family (six other children) are a part of Heifer Haiti’s From the Ground Up project, the same project that Antonio Louis Fritznel joined. The project, which will reach 12,000 families, began in the wake of 2010's earthquake as a way to build and rebuild family economies in Haiti and ensure access to basic needs such as food and water for those families.
To accomplish this goal, From the Ground Up is divided into 11 subprojects. Each subproject is like its own project: each works with different local organizations in distinct geographic areas of the country. And each subproject shares livestock resources that best fit the needs of the community of participants, whether it be rabbits, goats, cows, tilapia or something else.
Just as Antonio is a project participant and recipient of rabbits through COSDERSLS in St. Louis du Sud, Jeanne, Kenflore and family joined From the Ground Up and received goats through local organization CODEDPE (Collective for Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection) in Maniche.
Owning goats, or any type of livestock, is a big deal for families like Jeanne's. Of course, the family can use the goats' meat to improve their nutrition. But as of yet, they haven't eaten any of the goats. In fact, most of the livestock owners I talked to in Haiti had not used their animals for meat.
In Haiti, livestock is used as a kind of savings account. The animals are kept healthy and happy, and when the family needs a little extra money, they can sell some of the animals.
"If (one of us) has to go to the doctor, we can sell (a goat)," Jeanne said. "Or we can sell a goat to pay for school (fees for the children)."
In fact, the family is hoping to send Kenflore to school for the first time in January. In July, the family fulfilled their Passing on the Gift requirement and gave some of their largest goats to another family involved with the project, so the goats they have now aren't big enough to sell. Eventually, the family believes those goats will help keep Kenflore in school.
One of the many devastating results of the earthquake and hurricane of 2010 was that, in effect, the disasters wiped out thousands of savings accounts (i.e. their livestock). Through Heifer International Haiti and groups like CODEDPE, Haitians families are restoring or creating for the first time livestock savings accounts will help them in times of need. To learn more and to support Haitian families, please visit the web page for Heifer Haiti's newest project, REACH. To support communities around the world that are in the process of post-disaster, long-term rebuilding, please visit Heifer's disaster rehabilitation fund.