Uganda 2009: Change a life with a goat!

1. Introduction

From the end of january till april the fifth we were in Uganda doing volunteer work.
We taught the deaf pupils from the Bishop West School in Mukono several games for their leisure activities. We sorted out their games. We gave the Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School materials for handicraft lessons. The director of Besaniya Children’s Home received financial funds to plough two hectares of land. Now he can together with the orphans grow plants that will help with their food supply. For a number of disabled people we mediated to get a wheelchair. Disabled people from Lusaki received a South-African buck for their local she-coats enabling the locals to get higher prices for their off spring. In cooperation with the director of the Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School we started a goat project with South-African goats and a project with local goats. In this weblog you can read the story about these two projects.

2. From Bishop West to Good Samaritan, from Mukono to Nasuuti

During the first part of our stay in Uganda we were at the Bishop Westschool in Mukono. The school has also a boarding school for deaf pupils. In the past they were running a handicrafts program with the deaf pupils. Deaf pupils made pieces of work to sell. It helps others to see deaf pupils are also valuable persons. Families are willing to send these children to school. But the whole program was not profitable. So they asked us to take a look at their program. Maybe we can change something and make the program profitable. 
Our conclusion was that it is impossible to make the program profitable.
So we came up with an alternative plan to earn some more money with the deaf people. We suggested making a school garden with goats and poultry farming. But unfortunately the headmaster was not so enthusiastic. Surprisingly we heard this from many people, amongst which several headmasters. Never mind. In the meantime we had seen that the deaf children have nothing to do in their free time. They are bored. So we suggested collecting games and playing these with them. Agreed! This mainly happens now in the weekends. During the week we are busy doing other things. 

When we were in Holland we read on the internet about two Belgian people who did a little project with goats not far from Mukono. In Holland Leo was headmaster of an elementary school, the Jozefschool, a primary school on the island Texel. When Leo stopped working he got from his school a foundation, the Lejofoundation. The school put money in the foundation to support activities from Leo and Herma in developing countries. And they promised to do every year activities with children to earn money for the foundation. Leo told his old school colleagues that we went this year to Uganda to do some volunteer work. At that moment we did not know exactly what kind of work we would do. But Leo told them about a project with goats. He read about such a project on internet.

The teachers told the pupils about a project with goats. So now they agreed they would do activities this year for the Lejofoundation to buy goats for poor people in Africa. Now we are interested in the project of the Belgian people. Maybe we can cooperate with them. After a little research we found that they were still in Uganda. We even got a phone number. It took several days before we managed to make contact. Karel, the name of a Belgian guy told us they have done something for a school too. He gave us a name: ‘Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School’.   The school was being run by disabled people.  And we received an address. We should take a look ourselves Karel said. It’s only possible to get there by boda boda.  Of course our boda boda drivers knew the place. But reaching the back country even they had to ask several times. Finally we came to a teeny-weeny nursery school also with the name ‘Good Samaritan’. 

Here the Sisters had the responsibility for the school. It’s not the school we were looking for. Sister Rosa told us our school was in the neighbourhood of Kampala.  We went back, walking, to the main road. There we met with a boda boda driver. He convinced us he knew the right place. At the entrance of the school compound we saw two disabled adults. We are at the right place, that’s for sure. 
 

3. Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School

The Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School is located in Nassuuti near Mukono. Ten disabled adults established the school in 1997 with enthusiastic support from the local community. In the meantime four of the ten adults died. Aids took its toll. 

The school wants to give education to disabled and non-disabled persons, give support to orphans and poor children from the neighbourhoods. The school chooses consciously for small classes. In the educational program you will not only find academic and creative subjects. 

The school is a private school. That’s the reason why it cannot get government’s support. After Fred Migadde, the director of the school, had shown us the whole setup he told us enthusiastically that they are running a project with chickens and a small project with goats to help pay the cost such as the salaries for the teachers. A couple of children showed us proudly a little goat. 
Also we saw the maize fields. In a corner of the grounds laid many fired bricks. In the future these bricks will be used to build houses for the teachers.

Naturally we were interested in seeing the school itself. We saw small classes with enthusiastic teachers and beaming children. The whole atmosphere felt warm. When Fred heard that Herma was a handicraft teacher he told us about some parents that come to school three times a week to make pieces of art work. They sell it and with this money they support the school. Fred thinks that maybe Herma can give advice. He wants to involve Herma in the handicraft lessons. 

We asked Fred about the running projects and also about the new projects.
We asked ourselves: Are the plans only in the mind of the people? Or are these plans on paper?
Soon Fred showed us plans which involved chickens, goats and cows. We could take the plans with us to study them at home. That was the end of this visit, but we did not leave before we made a new appointment for a couple of days later. It was great what we had seen and what we had heard. It’s amazing what these disabled adults have accomplished. And their basic principles and goals, we like them, we agree with them. We are able to have a real input here, we feel. 
 

4. Nearer acquaintance

We looked over the project plans and put several questions on paper. Good Samaritan, here we come. Fred Migadde received us again. We thought to have a talk with him and put our questions to him. But it went totally different. Fred brought us to a classroom. Inside we saw six parents making pieces of work. We got the opportunity to see how everything went. After that we went outside. All the school children were outside. In the presence of the children one of the teachers gave us a warm welcome. We introduced ourselves. The children answered with clapping. After that Fred invited us to come to another classroom. Here the eldest pupils of the school had gathered. They made pieces of work with materials they found in their surroundings. And they were proud of it! Right! We admired everything fully.  

Then back to the classroom with the parents. Fred said something kind and welcomed us. After that he invited us to say something. Then it was the turn of one of the parents. She told us there was a group of fifteen parents who make pieces of work for the school in their spare time. They hoped they get new ideas from us. Also the parents hoped we have a new market for their art work in Holland. We were invited to lunch.  After the lunch it was time to talk with Fred about the several project plans. The project with the chickens was already running for many years. In the beginning there were many problems. But now they know how to look after the animals and they want to expand this project. With the chicken project the school was also a demonstration center for the local community. If somebody wanted to know something about poultry farming they came here for advice.

The goat project consisted of a South-African buck and two South-African she goats. The goats are so called “zero-grazing” goats. That means that these goats are not grazing in the meadow but they are standing in a shelter and there they get their food. One of the goats had already a young one. When there are five goats then the next young one will go to a local poor family. That’s the idea anyway. There is one condition. The family who gets a goat has to give away the first female goat from a litter to another poor family. The project is working well. At the moment there are no plans to expand this project.
We tell Fred about our plans for the Bishop Westschool and the reason why the plans not eventuated. He hardly could believe it. This concerns the last school of Leo and the Lejofoundation.
We see possibilities to integrate the results of the activities from the Jozef School into the Good Samaritan School’s goat project. We will discuss this the next time. Then the people tell us that in the future the school wishes to expand to become a knowledge bank and social service centre for other schools and the local community. They will develop things step by step. This depends on the funds they are getting. 
 

5. Profiles from a project

  Fred Migadde has a co-manager with the same name: Fred. So we have Fred 1 and Fred 2. Fred 1 has invited Fred 2 and the veterinary surgeon, who is also an advisor of the school, to be present at the conversation with us.
We discuss with each other why they chose South-African goats and not local goats.
Local goats can weigh between four and eleven kilos. With the South-African breed this is between forty and fifty kilos. It takes more time before local goats are sexually mature. These are important factors why they chose South-African goats. These goats are “zero-grazing”. So it’s necessary that families, who get a goat, are able to provide shelter for it. It’s of vital importance that those families with goats have good outcomes. They can do that by building a good shelter. Families who get a goat have the duty to give away the first female goat after a litter. The first families who will get a goat are those families who have a child that is not going to school because there is no money to pay the school fee. With a goat a family can earn money to pay the school fee. In that case the child can go to school immediately. The school fee can be paid later.
Families with a disabled child are the first families who can get a little goat, then the families with an orphan and finally poor families.
On the grounds of the school is already a buck and two goats. The buck and the goats are for meat production. It’s best to have also a buck and some goats for milk. A milk goat can produce three liters milk per day. People have not the intention to sell the milk. Milk is good for the children, their health improves and they stay healthy.
Fred 1 and Fred 2 will get tuition from the veterinary surgeon about the basics of how to look after the goats.
These are the main points of our conversation. Fred 2 and the veterinary surgeon will make a proposal including all these facts. We will think about how many goats we can purchase for the project.  In about a couple of days we will meet each other again.  

6. From goat to goat

  It goes on! A new goat project!
Ten disabled adults establish at the Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School in1997. Six people are still alive. Those people are united in a foundation called: Foundation of Disabled Employees Development and Employment Promotion Organization, shorted FDEDEPO Together with this foundation and with the support of the Lejofoundation, represented by us, we will start a goat project with the name: Goat to Goat Modern Demonstration Farm at Good Samaritan Integrated Primary School, Mukono.
There is a project plan, signed by representatives of the FDEDEPO and the Lejofoundation.
The most important things are set down in the project plan: With support of the Lejofoundation we will buy twenty pregnant South-African goats, both for the meat as well as for the milk. For these goats we will build a shelter on the grounds of the Good Samaritan school.The shelter will be build, as much as possible, from local materials at the expense of the Lejofoundation.The two directors Fred 1 and Fred 2 will get an intensive training from the veterinary surgeon how to handle and care for the goats and bucks. The Lejofoundation will pay for the training.The pregnant goats will come from a surrounding farm near Luwero, a little town, one hour driving to the North of Kampala.The cost of transport is for the Lejofoundation.
The new project is running in three counties: Mukono Town Council, Nakisunga and Nama, an area with about three thousand inhabitants. The “leader” of a county will select families that qualify for a goat. The leader is the director of the local primary school. He knows the local community very well. To qualify for a goat: First: families who have a disabled child who doesn’t go to school because there is no money to pay the school fee.
Secondly: families who take care of an orphan.
The third group is the poor families.
And finally the elder people.
Families who get a goat have to build a shelter by themselves. Before a family gets a goat they get training about how to take care of a goat, given by the directors Fred 1 and Fred 2. The pregnant goats are housed in a shelter on the grounds of the Good Samaritan school.  For the care and the supervision the project needs a caretaker. The salary for the first six months is for the Lejofoundation. A family who gets a young goat has to give away the first female kid out of a litter. So we get a snowball affect and we can help more and more families. It’s the core requirement to make this project succeed. Every three months the representatives from Lejofoundation will get a report about the project from director Fred Migadde.
After two years there will be an assessment. Conclusions will be directive for the future.

   

7. Let’s get this show on the road! 

With director Fred1 and a teacher from the Good Samaritan school we visit different families in the three counties where the goat project is running. The “leaders” from the counties have selected the families. First we are going to Judith. Judith is a girl of ten years old. She is an orphan and she is deaf. Her aunt has already seven children and now she also brings up Judith. Judith visited the Bishop West School in Mukono. She is a clever pupil. After the Bishop West School she had to go to a school in Kampala. But her aunt cannot pay the school fee. Now Judith stays at home. There she is bored. And she does not get on with her aunt. 

With the four-wheel drive we venture far inland. Soon we experience why it is necessary to use such a strong car. The road is unpaved and dusty with many deep potholes. You can almost swim in them. The county is huge.
We visit the “leader’  of the county. And he is the headmaster of a primary school. It’s clever to appoint a headmaster as a “leader”. He knows the local community very well. He can decide which families qualify for a goat. 
The school is hidden further inland. The place is marvelous. After a short welcome the headmaster shows us several classes. The classes are packed. The atmosphere is tremendous. Shiny kids. Outside we see pupils making pieces of work with local materials. They try to sell these pieces of work for the school. But the market is depressed. The kids are very proud of their work. We see shiny eyes everywhere. Underneath the shadow of a tree we see a couple of parents also making pieces of work. In the meantime all the children of the school come together in one of the classrooms. The headmaster tells us we are very welcome. The children agree with clapping. Then Leo is invited to say something. The teacher from the Good Samaritan school translates. Together with the parents and the headmaster we walk around the school grounds. In a corner we see many unbaked bricks. The parents will bake these later. When the bricks are baked they will be used to build classrooms if there is money left for cement.  Then we walk through a little village. Repeatedly we hear “Hay muzungu!  Even very young children chant that. We visit three families who are on the list for getting a goat. If we see the living conditions and hear their background then there is no doubt about that these people will get a goat.  Our next goal is to visit another “leader” of another county. This time too the “leader” is the headmaster of a primary school. That means again we visit a school.
That’s always a pleasure to us.  Here the same scenario: reception by the headmaster and after that a visit to the classes and speeches. Wonderful! Then we visit the selected families. Arriving at the first house the widow is not at home. Five young children are home alone.  
The next family lives on a hill. We met a mother with five young children, poorly dressed. The father died two months ago. There is no money for the school fees. So the children are not going to school. Visiting the third family we see three children coming out hesitatingly. Is there anybody else? After a couple of minutes out comes an old, tawny woman in ripped clothes. Grandmother! Grandmother brings up the children. Daughter and son in law died of Aids.

Finally we visit Batu, the deaf boy. When we are at his house his mother lies down on the ground. She has a migraine. It’s difficult to speak with her. Fortunately his father is coming home and so it’s easier to talk with each other. We told them what kind of materials Bata needs when he goes to boarding school and asked them for which they could pay, the rest we will pay. It’s our intention that Batu will come to the boarding school next week.
Back to Mukono. The end of a long day. Impressive. Good to see inspired people. People with a dream to help other people. This day is unforgettable; we will remember it for a very longtime. No question about it, this goat project is necessary, it’s deserves full support. 
In the meantime people have started to build a shelter on the grounds of the Good Samaritan School. Tomorrow we will take a look. And Saturday we will go to Luwero to buy pregnant South-African goats and a buck.
Surprise, surprise, our son Christian, graphic designer send us by email a splendid logo. 
 

8. There she comes! 

Saturday morning at 6 o’clock the alarm clock goes off. Together with Fred 1 and the veterinary surgeon we will go to a goat farm in the surroundings of Luwero, about 100 km away from Mukono. We want to buy the first goats for the meat and milk and also a buck. We want to avoid Kampala. So we take a secondary road and that means dusty and red dirt roads with the inevitable bumps and potholes.  At Luwero we go venture deep into the interior. The dirt roads cannot be more dusty but rather narrower and more and more potholes which get bigger and bigger. We are sitting in a private car, not a four-wheel-drive. Many times the bottom of the car grates the ground and not only that but also many times the car crashes against the ground. It’s a mystery the exhaust does not fall off. 
The landscape changes more and more into a swampy forest. The goat farm is situated ‘in the middle of nowhere”. Finally we come to a shelter and two banda’s; loam huts with a roof made of grass. Here live two caretakers. In the shelter there are many goats. 
Now the veterinary surgeon can do his job. He can examine the goats.
But that goes differently out here. The veterinary surgeon observes the goats. The goats have to run through the shelter. When the veterinary doctor has made up his mind he points to the goat and a caretaker catches that goat. The veterinary surgeon selects in that way ten pregnant goats.

“The best ones” he says. A buck comes out of another shelter. Goats and buck go in a loading platform. That goes very fast.
People make a kind of fence around the loading platform.  So the animals cannot make escape anymore. 
Now we can go back. A long way! This time it’s not the owner of the goat farm who drives the car but the veterinary surgeon. And that‘s a difference. It’s like being in a cakewalk on the fun fair. The car crunches, grates and bumps.  Dusty clouds blow. It’s hot. The windows are open.
More and more red dust comes in. The car slowly turns red inside and so are we. Our lungs start to protest. We get tickles in the throat. 
About four o’clock in the afternoon we arrive at the school. After a couple of minutes the pickup truck with the animals arrives too. The shelter is ready. The unloading of the goats and buck go fast.

The children and the adults are very interested to see all this.
The shelter has feeding-troughs filled with fresh cut grass. Goats and buck eat. It’s seems they are happy. The veterinary surgeon observes. He shows us a goat. Within a week that goat will get a young one he says. Maybe two, you will never know. The veterinary surgeon is an energetic man. Tomorrow he will start training Fred 1 and 2 how to handle and to take care of the goats. The whole training will take two weeks. After that the two directors will give training to the families before they will receive a goat. In that way they get a guarantee that people know how to look after a South-African goat.
We hope the Goat Project will be a profitable enterprise. We want to get a snowball affect: a family gets a goat, they then have the duty to give away the first female kid out of a litter to another selected family. Each selected family has to sign a contract. They promise to take good care of the goat. If they “lose” the goat they have they are obliged to pay for the goat and when they have no money they have to work for it. The law backs up this plan. 

In Uganda there aren’t so many milking goats. Milking goats are rather unknown. That’s the reason there are not so many milking goats. We want to buy more milking goats but we found only three good milking goats. The owner of the farm promised us to ask his friends for more milking goats, so next week we can expect five more milking goats.
Milking goats can produce three liters milk a day. That milk is of high quality. 1 liter of goat milk can be diluted with two liters water and then it is still nutritious.
It’s beneficial for families with many children. If you can provide for your own food you are rich, so people tell us. 
In spite of his promises the owner of the goat farm did not get five milk goats but only three. Again the veterinary surgeon confirms the quality.

So we bought them. And a couple of days later the veterinary doctor gets an address where they have two more good milking goats and a little buck. For the third time we got back to the Good Samarian school with animals for the goat project.  
 

9. Let’s go with the local goat! 

You can see it on our weblog. The Lejofoundation received more donations during our stay in Uganda. This money will be spent very well.
During our visits to the counties where the goat project is running, we often heard that many children are still not going to school because the parents of the family cannot pay the school fees. It makes us think.
For the goat project we bought a South African buck?  Can we not use that buck for the local goats? Is that possible? We asked the veterinary surgeon. We are pleased to hear that it is possible indeed. In this way the young ones get South-African blood and their value goes up.
Local goats are much cheaper then South-African goats. And now there is a South-African buck available.  
Goat project number two is born!
From the donations we want to buy eleven local goats.

Also these goats go to the grounds of the Good Samaritan school. There they meet the South African buck. If the goats get pregnant they can be given away to selected families. The criteria of getting a goat are the same as in project number one. Fred 1 and Fred 2 will cooperate with our plans. 
Again in that way we look for the snowball effect. That’s what we want.
More and more people get help. It’s to be independent of us. If we are back in Holland the help goes on.
We buy from a trader eleven goats. The trader looks for local goats in the neighbourhood of poor people. If the trader buys a goat from a poor family, they get money to send a child to school. We want to be sure to get good goats. So we ask the veterinary surgeon again for his help. 
In the last week of our stay we go in the late afternoon with a pick up truck to a neighbouring goat farm. The trader has done his job very well. The local goats are beautiful. The veterinary surgeon rejects only one. In a couple of minutes the trader comes out with another goat. We are satisfied.  
It’s already dark when we return to the Good Samaritan school. 
So there is not much to see. We go back, satisfied, to Mukono. We buy a bottle of wine. In the evening we toast on a successful stay in Uganda. 

The future?