Goats Change Community

Filipino preacher describes outreach to community through a new breed of goat.

by Salvador Cariaga

Boer goatStandard Boer goats are native to Africa. These goats can grow up to 280 pounds or more, and cost $600 (in Cebu) for a registered weanling. They usually have stocky white bodies and red heads. Although most Filipinos are familiar with goats, many have never seen a Boer goat. So when we decided to use goat raising as our flagship livelihood program, the people in the hills of Arapal (northern Cebu) shrugged it off. We were not the first livelihood project, or even the first goat-raising program, they had encountered. The government had tried such offers in the past, and failed.

Determined to give it a go, the first thing I did was scout for all the homes that raise goats. There were quite a few. As many as one in five families have a goat or two, though mostly of the small, 20-40 pound native variety. They also do not milk their goats. I have traveled extensively around the island, and have yet to meet a family who milk their goats. So we conducted seminars on goat-raising and milk production. We also lectured on organic alternatives and farming techniques, such as Vermi-Culture, Contour, and SALT Technology. We partnered with the government and feed companies on some of the seminars. As a matter of course, we also shared the Bible with these families and invited them to church.

When it was time to disperse our small native goats, we had a few takers. We loaned most of our goats to children who were excited at the thought of having their own personal pet, and the parents and children signed a contract agreeing that the goat is actually loaned to the child. We then convinced a friend to donate money to buy an expensive Boer buck, and it has been our most productive investment, both literally and figuratively.

In less than a year, the Boer has sired over 100 kids and changed the landscape of this community. Instead of the small native ruminants normally seen along Philippine roads, Boer hybrids are now popping up in this small village. People are lining up to borrow and raise a pregnant native goat mated by our buck. Early this week, a little old lady dragged her female goat in heat to the camp, insisting that the Boer sire her doe’s offspring. Recently, 40 people attended a seminar to qualify for this goat-loaning program. They all want to have Boer kids. More are expected to join the next seminar.

The goats we disperse to poor children and farmers are usually pregnant when given. We divide their offspring, take our share and pass these new additions on to others. We recently received another donation, with which we were able to purchase a new Boer buck. Deemed “Bubba” by his donors, the goat will sire the first Boer’s female offspring, and improve (upgrade) their breed line even more.

Another sign of progress: our partnering farmers are now starting to milk their goats, and pretty soon will supply us with milk to market for them. We are also encouraging them to make good use of the goat manure for their gardens.

In the long run, we expect to see this community thrive economically, be healthy physically and grow spiritually.

With the food and fuel crisis looming on everyone’s mind, our goat program offers hope for a better future. We calculate that if the children to whom we loan goats will take good care of half a dozen goats, it can pay for their education from grade school to college.

Thanks to the first Boer goat, the community visually witnessed the results, and are now buying into our mission and vision. In time, we hope to help change communities, one goat at a time.

Tto know more about the give-a-goat program, write to cariaga@yahoo.com. Volunteers are welcome who can go to teach or train locals to be self-sufficient.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us