On our way out to do a camel track in the Sahara Desert, we made a stop in a remote village that benefits from the support of the non-profit organization, Children of the Sahara, whose mission is to improve the lives of the nomadic children living in the environs of the Sahara Desert. We visited this village on a hot afternoon and walked between the mud brick houses watching children play, animals lounge, and hearing goat sounds all around.
We peeked into the one room schoolhouse, where it was packed full of the local women who were learning to read, write and do math.
They were all curious, yet shy about why we were there.
We were in the village to donate money to go towards the purchase of a goat for a local family. We thought that Children of the Sahara was just about providing goats, but were pleased to learn about their broader mission and reach. They support many programs to improve the lives of the children and the families. In addition to helping increase the herds of goats, they provided opportunities for school and different types of business training and skills.
We learned about this fabulous organization from our tour guide operators, Authentic Morocco. Check out their site if you plan on visiting Morocco anytime soon. http://www.authentic-morocco.com/
You may wonder what a goat would do to help a family’s economic status. In these villages livestock is used in many ways. The nomadic people in North Africa live off their goats and an occasional camel. A family needs about four to five goats to start their herd. The herds provide important nourishment from their milk, warmth from their wool, and can be traded for other goods and investments such as children’s education and healthcare.
Children of the Sahara has established an innovative micro-finance program centered around goats.
Here is how it works.
When the goats have offspring, the herd grows itself and can be shared with others. The initiative—animal banking—builds on the same type of principles as micro-credit or micro-finance. The recipients agree with the lender that the goats received are theirs to keep and to be used to start building their herd but that some of the offspring will be “paid back” by passing them on to other families in need.
Visiting the goat village was a very different experience for us. We didn’t do any volunteering, but instead provided a valuable asset to the village. In the past we’ve heard about organizations where you can buy a goat or a cow or some livestock and you’re told about the impact that it can make.
In this case, we got to see firsthand the impact of the gift as simple as a goat and what it can do to change the life of a family and a village. We went away wishing we had more money to donate so that everyone in the village could have a goat. We take those things for granted in the United States, but in villages like we visited they don’t take anything for granted. I am pleased we got to experience this and meet the people who are taking action and improving lives.
If you would like to learn more about Children of the Sahara, go to http://www.saharachildren.org/wp/