It’s not just a goat – it’s a life-changer. Goats and other livestock have not only helped families build sustainable businesses, they’ve also been crucial to helping families weather the current pandemic. For Faridah and her grandmother Aisha in Uganda, their goats meant that they did not have to go hungry when Aisha’s other income streams dried up. Here they are interviewed by Juliet Nansasi of our local partner HUYSLINCI, who runs the livestock program that has changed so many lives, with CFTC donor support.
It’s a bright, sunny day when nine-year-old Faridah proudly shows off her grandmother Aisha’s goats, who are flourishing under the family’s care. Through our local Ugandan partner HUYSLINCI, Faridah’s family received training for a goat, which was gifted to them from another CFTC-supported household. Faridah’s goats have proven to be life-savers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We asked Faridah and her grandmother Aisha how they’ve been managing through the pandemic, and how the simple gift of a goat has been able to keep them fed and healthy.
FARIDAH, HOW DO YOU FEEL STAYING AT HOME? DO YOU MISS SCHOOL? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING AT HOME?
Staying at home has been boring. I love spending time with my Jajja (grandma), and my sisters, but I miss school a lot. I miss my friends, teachers, and playing sports.
At home I love helping Jajja with chores like washing dishes, sweeping the house, some simple gardening, and laundry, among others. I am using this time to make grandma happy.
HOW HAVE YOUR MEALTIMES CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC HIT?
Faridah: Before COVID-19 came, we used to eat a variety of food like rice, beans, matooke (green banana), peas and posho (maize). We could eat food three times a day, but now, we strictly have two meals a day. Grandma bought a lot of maize flour and beans after she sold off one of our goats
HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED YOUR FAMILY? WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING?
Aisha: A lot has changed. I now have fewer customers for my handicraft business. [Aisha sells baskets, mats, house decorations and art.] I make fewer sales because my products used to mainly be bought by foreign tourists who no longer come into Uganda. As well, I would make a lot of crafts for weddings and parties, which has impacted my family income. I can’t sell my art to the gallery shops because they’re all closed for business.
Faridah: I’m out of school and miss learning. I hoped that I would study this year and move to the next grade, but it looks like that will be next year when hopefully we can go back to class.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR GOATS. HAS YOUR SUCCESS RAISING GOATS MITIGATED THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 FOR YOUR FAMILY?
Aisha: Yes indeed! I just wonder what the situation would have been without our goats…..where could I have got food to feed my family before the lockdown was slightly lifted. It was gratifying to have an option to sell off one of our goats to buy food in turn. This food has seen us through the main lockdown and we were happy to share a little part of the food with two of our needy neighbours.
Raising goats has made me more business-minded. I have gained skills and knowledge to keep my goats safe, vaccinated and healthy. The goats have been particularly helpful now that my handicraft business is at a standstill.
Faridah: Grandma has promised to give each one of us grandchildren a goat. We have learnt to look after these goats and grandma keeps telling us that these goats will be the source of our school fees and anyone who doesn’t want to look after them will not go to school [she and Aisha laugh as she tells us this.] I feel proud to have these goats. They look nice, and the whole family loves them so much.
FARIDAH, HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR GRANDMA CARE FOR THE GOATS?
I sweep the goats’ house, take the goats to the grazing fields and pick them after. I also gather their food from the neighborhood.
WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE?
Aisha: I want to expand my goat project by allowing my animals to multiply, build a bigger shelter for them to be able to securely meet the needs of my family. My plan is to have at least 50 goats. I also want to expand my poultry project as well as explore rabbit rearing in future.
Secondly, I have thought of many creative designs in my crafts business and when the situation normalizes, I will buy quality materials from which I shall make competitive designs of crafts to earn me more profits.
I thank God for giving me this opportunity of being part of this program and for Canadian Feed The Children. I personally wasn’t able to study to higher heights, and my own children were not able to. I am now determined to at least educate my grandchildren to get to greater educational heights.
Faridah: I want to become a hairstylist. Look now, I’ve twisted my grandma’s hair and all my sisters. I feel good when I see wedding TV shows and dream of someday doing hair for brides.
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR CANADIAN SUPPORTERS?
Aisha: I want to specially thank the Canadian supporters for their selfless contributions that they make to improve the wellbeing of families like mine. I also will thank you HUYSLINCI for ensuring that support reaches us and that it can make positive change in our lives.
It is a special thing to touch a life you have not been able to meet or interact with physically. It’s surprising that that invisible touch can create endless smiles and joy in the hearts of we the recipients of that touch. On behalf of my fellow parents supported by HUYSLINCI and Canadian Feed the Children, I want to say thank you and this comes from the bottom of my heart.