Friday, March 9, 2012

ON: Goats

I'm a suburban girl.  I've lived in several states in my life, but always in a suburb.  I'm not going to pretend- I like the suburbs.  I like the space, the predictability, the neat and tidy roads. I like that I can get to both the city and the country fairly easily.  Of course, living in the suburbs makes one ignorant of certain things.  I'm not totally comfortable on public transportation, and the closest I get to livestock is at the petting zoo.

In Haiti, though, livestock are everywhere.  You can't walk through a town -even Port au Prince, without encountering roosters, chickens, goats, horses, donkeys, cows, and pigs.  Livestock are valuable, as tools, food, income, savings accounts, insurance policies.  For many, having livestock is the difference between life and death.

We didn't come to Haiti to be involved with livestock. But, well... ok, we did (shamelessly) offer a pet goat as a comfort to our children, nervous about moving to a new country.  After all, how hard could that be?

It turns out pretty hard.  Goats need a quite a bit of room, and contrary to popular belief they do not (or should not) eat every/anything.  They need care from someone who didn't grow up in the suburbs.  Of course, as guilt will do, I felt compelled to come up with some way to fulfill my comfort-promise to my children.  Around the same time 3 things were happening: (1) Chris had visited the One Family Church campus in Maisade, a distant mountain village and felt called to help the pastor (also a farmer) move his church (and school for 100 village children) from being supported (by Pastor Kesnel and the One Family Central Campus) to being self sustained.  (2) The children's ministry of our home church contacted me and asked how they could partner with our children and our ministry in Haiti. (3) we drove through the market were Ella expressed to Pastor Kesnel her desire to have a goat.   {Sidebar- Pastor Kesnel adores Ella and Xander.   He treats them as grandchildren.  How many doting grandfathers can deny the sweet, innocent requests of their beloveds?}  
"Ah, we must have a goat!" says Pastor.  Conversation begins.  And before long not only do we have the plan to purchase goats, we have the place and person to keep them... Pastor Jackson in Maisade, and moreover- we have a purpose.  Kabrit Kids was born!
The goal of Kabrit Kids is simple- folks in the states purchase goats which are raised by Pastor Jackson in the mountains.  As the herd grows, it will provide a source of income, meat, and milk for Pastor Jackson and the One Family, Maisade campus.  Through a short-term and relatively inexpensive initial investment, we have a reproducing, self sustaining ministry.

The Numbers:  (skip ahead if you must)  Goats vary in cost from $35 for a young male, to $55 for a pregnant female.  A nanny goat will deliver 1-3 kids.  The average weekly collection of One Family, Maisade is less than $2.   The sale of one goat per month (a very low goal) will increase church revenue by about 500%.  The sale of 2 goats per week (a very high goal) could fully sustain the church and school (currently subsidized by Pastor Kesnel).  We hope to purchase 20 goats for the herd.  The rest is up to nature and Pastor Jackson.  

We haven't yet met a Haitian pastor who doesn't also run a business or 2 or 3.  I think that's the nature of being the church to the the poorest of the poor.  While the goats alone will likely not be enough to make One Family, Maisade completely self-sustained, we hope that the additional revenue will allow Pastor to invest in other forms of support and spread his ministry throughout his community.  

Yesterday, we made the trip to Maisade (about 4 hours up the mountain) and visited the livestock market.  We were presented with dozens of goats.  Pastors Jackson and Kesnel haggled with several farmers over prices.  Xander and Ella loved the goat market, and each helped select and name a goat (Mr. Tumnus and Achilles).  Finally, 6 goats were bought for a total cost of $246.  Our little herd now consists of 2 young males, 1 young female, and 3 pregnant females.We are looking forward to visiting again in a few weeks, when we expect at least one of the nanny goats will have delivered her kids.

Pastor Jackson was truly excited and encouraged by this investment in his ministry.  He has great hopes for these goats.  He has already prepared the land where they will live and grow.  God took the ignorant promise of this suburban mom and turned it into a promising future for a small mountain church.  His ways are not our ways; they are so much better.