A Gift of Goats is a Gift of Hope
Story and Photos by Darcy Kiefel, Heifer International Photojournalist
In a mud home made vibrant by beautiful flowers, Leokodia Byabasaija extended her hand to welcome a stranger.
Byabasaija, a beautiful woman who conceals the hardships of her life with an engaging smile, lives in the village of Kisinga, Uganda. Not long ago she had a happy life with her husband, Lesio, and their children. Married in 1968, the couple, working as peasant farmers, raised nine children. Although they struggled, together they managed to send their children to school and put food on the table.
In November 2001, after 33 years of marriage, Lesio died, leaving Leokodia a widow with children to rear with nothing more than a small vegetable garden for their survival.
But Oct. 30, 2002, brought a new future to Leokodia Byabasaija, her children and many other families in other Ugandan villages. On that day, Heifer International and the Kisinga Women’s Dairy Goat Project celebrated the arrival of 50 dairy goats donated by Oprah Winfrey, the world-famous American talk show host.
Heifer has been giving goats to this village since 1991, and continues to train women and families in goat husbandry and management, health, leadership and the integration of women into society. Soil erosion is a major problem in this area, and Heifer also trains farmers in ways to protect the environment.
Courses are held for both new and previous project farmers as the need arises, and an additional 100 families are educated each year before receiving the pass-on gift of animals.
Masereka Sileo and his wife, Spiranza Sileo, received their Heifer International goat in November 1994.
“After our Heifer goat had kids, we passed on the gift of an offspring with happiness to our neighbor and kept the other for project sustainability,” Spiranza Sileo said. “Over the years our Heifer International goat has had nine pregnancies. The total sale of goats has...
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