Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Samaritan's Purse Livestock

This blog focuses on Operation Christmas Child a ministry of Samaritan's Purse and not on Samaritan's Purse itself... and that won't change, but sometimes I will post their blogs or prayer requests because I believe in the work they are doing.

I hope you enjoy this blog post... and if you feel lead I have added the link to the Samaritan's Purse gift catalog where you can give the gift of livestock or many other amazing gifts to people in need in the name of Christ.


May 23, 2012

Love and Unity Through Livestock
By Joni Byker.

I recently was able to take a day trip out to Bopolu, one of our four sub-offices here in Liberia, a four-hour drive outside of Monrovia.

When Samaritan’s Purse first arrived in Liberia to respond to the civil crisis, Bopolu was one of the areas that organizations flocked to. When you entered the town, you were greeted to over 30 signboards signifying the amount of organizations represented in the city and the district.

One of the most recognizable problems in Bopolu right after the war was the lack of livestock. Not a chicken or goat could be seen while driving through or around Bopolu.

Now, things are a bit different.

The signboards are faded and aged, but still posted on the street corner. As for an actual presence in the community and district, Samaritan’s Purse is one of the few still working in the area.

Augustus Vannie has been the livestock program manager for Samaritan’s Purse Liberia since 2005. He was one of the first employees in Liberia, where currently the number of staff is over 320. Pa Vannie brought me to the community of Fahrwen Town, just a few minutes outside Bopolu.

Fahrwen Town is one of the oldest in the district, founded in the late 1800s. Samaritan’s Purse approached the community in 2007 to see if there was interest in a sheep and goat project. With members of the community returning to their homes after the war, the desire to be back on their feet financially was understandably high.

Our livestock team chose 20 farmers, 10 requesting sheep and 10 requesting goats.

“You want to know how to solve any community issue? Love and sharing,” Pa Vannie shared with the farmers. “Jesus Christ died for you—He did that because He loves you. So, when you encounter an issue in your community, love them and share with them. If your animal is bothering your neighbor, instead of arguing with them, offer them the animal instead. Share with them what you have been given.”

The community has taken this advice to heart.

“These sheep and goats have brought love and unity to this community. It has made us know God better and has helped us love one another,” Fahrwen Kamara said. “When we see someone in need, we give them an animal. When that animal has offspring, they return one. Sheep and goats brought Christianity here—we should love one another as Christ loved us.”

As a result, today there are over 150 sheep and goats in Fahrwen Town, compared to the 44 that were originally distributed in 2007.

The Samaritan’s Purse livestock program has not only brought love and unity to Fahrwen Town, but has provided a solid financial support while community members rebuild their town and their lives.

Fahrwen Kamara has not only given away four of his sheep, he has also sold four for $125 each, which provided the funds he needed to construct a three-bedroom home for his family.

Krubah David, a 23-year-old sheep farmer, is also constructing her very own three-bedroom home. Krubah was 18 when SP responded to the needs of her community.

“I heard they wanted to bring us sheep and goats, and I wanted to be a part of that!” she said.

Five years later, she has given three of her sheep away to community members in need, and has sold four. But her “bank” is far from empty—she still has nine sheep she is caring for. “These sheep have brought unity among us,” she said.

Edwin Bormah used his goats as an investment to jump-start two small businesses in Fahrwen Town. After paying back his required two females to SP, Edwin sold eight of his goats, for $110 each, to start the Bormah Business Center, which sells dried goods, batteries, and canned goods, and is the only business center in Fahrwen Town. He then constructed a video club, which shows movies each night for $5LD per person.

“I still have 11 goats,” he said. “In fact, just recently my wife was really sick. I was able to sell three animals to carry my wife to the hospital in Monrovia. Praise God, she received the help she needed. Then, with rainy season starting, I needed new zinc for my roof. I was able to easily purchase three bundles of zinc with the money from my goats.”

Zogba Mulbah currently has 16 goats, which have covered school fees for each of her six children, approximately $300 total each semester. With most of the population of Liberia living on less than $1 a day, a family of six children would never be able to cover the cost of these school fees. “I wouldn’t survive or be able to send my kids to school,” she said. “I used to farm, but I stopped to focus on my goats instead.”

As we were leaving the community, a man named Ballah came running up to catch my attention. The night before, a tropical storm came through Fahrwen Town and ripped the entire roof off of his house. Instead of frantically searching for funds to repair his roof before the next rains came, he sold a couple of his goats, easily covering the cost of zinc, timber and labor.

Pa Vannie and his livestock team are also taking the community to the next level—assisting them in getting set up at the local market to sell their animals, instead of having to transport them the four hours to Monrovia.

“Just think—people will be talking about the Bopolu market because of the animals available,” he said. Right now, the weekly markets consist of produce, dried fish and household supplies. “Work together as a cooperative. Set a price for your animals and don’t undercut your neighbor. When you work together at the market, you will be even stronger!”

As we drove away from Fahrwen Town, I was so encouraged by these testimonies. These 20 farmers have taken the gift that they had received from Samaritan’s Purse, invested and cared for them wisely, used them to reach out to the needy in their community, and now continue to reap the benefits and blessings that come from their stewardship.

1 comment:

  1. Each year as a family we "shop" the SP gift catalog and this is one thing we always "buy" - goats. Thanks for sharing this it is nice to see a tangible example of how this ministry helps individual families.