The Best Goat Ever

When is a goat more than a goat? How do seeds grow into an early childhood development centre? How does the gift of a latrine prevent violence toward girls and women?

Tangible gifts like goats, seeds and school latrines are fun holiday gift-giving ideas, but also mean so much more to the children and families who receive them. Here’s just a small sampling of how your donations to the Best Gift Ever symbolic gift program change lives:

sheep-EthiopiaMom and son raise sheep ($35) in Ethiopia, thanks to CFTC partner EDA’s “Small Ruminants” program. Goats and sheep (and chickens and pigs and bees …) provide sustainable livelihoods, nutrition and a path out of poverty with funds contributed through the Best Gift Ever.

after-school-centresSupport for youth programs ($95) at SCSJ in Alpacoma, Bolivia through the Best Gift Ever ensures that children and youth have a safe and well-equipped space for recreation and socialization while their parents work.

school gardensNourishing food and nourishing knowledge at Eel Ground, NB. Cheyenne Mary, CFTC Program Coordinator shows six-year-old Serenity where fresh food comes from at the Eel Ground school and community garden. Your school garden gift ($90) buys seeds, garden tools and supplies and educational materials to teach kids how to make good things grow! School and community gardens are also provided in Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia and Bolivia, where produce supplements income for the school and adds diversity to the school food program.

teacher trainingKnowledgeable, well-trained, qualified educators are critical to shape the future potential of each child, like Azalech Tadesse – an award-winning early childhood educator shown here at Gelan II centre in Ethiopia. Your Best Gift Ever supports teacher training ($60) in enriched environments in Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana and Bolivia. Read Azalech Tadesse’s story and learn more about how your Best Gift Ever donations make a crucial difference for the youngest children.

seeds_siloesThe Best Gift Ever is high-quality seeds and a place to keep them safe for the next planting season! Traditional silos ($195) help protect indigenous seeds ($35) from the elements and insects, plus free up space in single-room dwellings. Edward Akapire, CFTC’s Country Representative in Ghana (wearing CFTC shirt) and Hardi Tijani, Executive Director of CFTC local partner, RAINS, inspect a silo in Yilikpani, Northern Region, Ghana.

classroom_furnitureAs in many traditional societies, girls in northern Ghana often face barriers to attending and remaining in school. Here in Sang, Northern Region, support for school infrastructure including classroom furniture ($53), teacher salaries, and community awareness raising on the value of education means these girls have a chance to be successful in school – the most effective path out of poverty.

toys&gamesStory time in Bolivia! Toys and games ($28), reading corners ($35), and school supplies ($18) – among the most popular Best Gifts Ever – create enriched environments where children from the earliest ages through primary school can learn, grow and thrive.

home_visitsThe Best Gift Ever works to ensure that educators are trained and available to families to coach them on parenting skills and healthy child development. Home visits ($46) and parenting classes ($80) address the urgent problems of neglect and domestic violence that occur at high frequencies in Bolivia and leave so many children vulnerable.

school-uniformsThanks to BGE supporters, these St. Paul Bulega primary school students are receiving brand new school uniforms ($10). Usually mandatory but often unaffordable, this simple gift allows a child to enroll in school, gives her confidence and a sense of belonging. Children in our programs frequently say that their school uniform is their most treasured possession. For just $10, your gift provides a child with a warm memory and the priceless opportunity to stay in and graduate from school.

Elsipogtog_snackSchool meals ($65) are the heart and soul of our Canadian programming and ensure children in First Nations communities are nourished in their bodies, minds and spirits. All of CFTC’s Canadian school food programs – like this one here at Elsipogtog First Nation in Miramichi, New Brunswick – provide well-balanced, culturally appropriate breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Increasingly, school food programs are being expanded with a nutrition education component, to create sustainable, long-term impact on food security, nutrition and health for children and parents alike.

womens-creditLike mother, like daughter. Fatouma Oumar (left), a long-time member of a women’s credit group supported by CFTC’s local partner, MCDP, in Kirkos sub-City outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has run a successful market stall selling all manner of household goods. She’s been so successful, in fact, that she recruited her daughter, Alimitou Moussa (right), to run her household-goods stall so she could focus on selling vegetables at another stall on market day. A little Best.Gift.Ever help in the form of a women’s credit gift ($120), and a whole lot of hard work – and these women are supporting themselves and their families.

latrineIn CFTC’s communities, such as Bidima, Ghana pictured above (read more about this particular latrine’s communications approach), the Best Gift Ever is a clean, private, easily-accessible and gender-segregated latrine ($125). These create not just greater safety and comfort for girls (and boys too), better hygiene and health, but also improve educational outcomes. Once facilities are installed, the importance of proper toilet habits and hand-washing with soap is reinforced in the school’s curriculum. Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity, and women and girls in particular risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls to gain some privacy. Even where toilets do exist, they generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene. That is why latrines are so critical to be built and maintained near to schools. Where they exist, the drop-out rate for girls at puberty declines.

And of course:

chickenschickens2goatsChickens ($15 for three chicks) and goats ($75 each). By far our most popular gifts, and for good reason. Chickens and goats provide income and nutrition for both urban and rural families across Africa, including in CFTC’s countries of operation: Uganda, Ethiopia and Ghana. There are oodles of benefits: both are easy to obtain and keep, require little room, are hardy, can be raised by women (who rarely have access to arable land for other types of produce/livestock), produce offspring relatively quickly, and once a herd or coop is established, can be ‘traded up’ for other types of livestock – cows usually – putting greater agricultural productivity and economic independence within reach of even those living in deep poverty. For more on why goats are such great gifts, check out The Straight Goods on Goats in the CFTC blog.