Thursday, June 30, 2011

Animal Handoff in Bukomero

This past Saturday in Bukomero, Rwanda, the community came together to celebrate and witness the first round of first-born animals being handed off to new families. Bukomero village was the first community in Rwanda to receive a microgrant, thus this is a very exciting moment to see this grant in its first steps of sustainability. The community came together months back and decided upon an animal husbandry grant, and divided into three groups according to the animals they selected; goats, pigs, and chickens. Part of their grant stated that the first born animals must be passed on to another family, in order to help all community members. This past Saturday, this exciting next phase started!

As a Spark intern, I have been working with Bukomero for the past month learning about how the grant has gone and seeing how the animals are doing. During our meeting last week we discussed the hand-off of animals and one woman was so excited that she wanted to hand off her animal then. Instead we decided to wait a week to be able to have a small celebration for the handoff. So on Saturday the community came together to enjoy some snacks and watched and celebrate the handoff.

During the first part of the meeting, the three animal groups met to discuss, decide and write down how they are planning on giving away their first born animals. This will serve as a model for them in the months and years to come. It was pretty amazing to see them come up with their own plans, and the goat group even developed a contract system that the donor and receiver must sign.

On Saturday, there were 3 goats and 4 chickens that were given away, benefiting 5 families (each family receives 2 chickens). It was very exciting seeing the community members sign away, and then sign for their animals. After everything had been signed, the people handing away animals came forward, followed by those who would receive them. They stood side by side and then transferred either the goat’s leash or the chicks in to the other person’s hands. After the transfer was complete everyone started clapping and seemed very excited for the new animals owners. One woman who received a goat was so excited that she picked it up and walked around with it in her arms.

One reason why the new receivers are so excited is for all the benefits they will receive from having an animal. The people of Bukomero decided upon an animal grant in order to get manure for their crops to increase their production, and to get eggs from chickens to sell and eat. Both of these benefits, increased agricultural yields and eggs, will also help to improve their nutrition.

I think one of my favorite moments from Saturday was that as we were leaving, the community walked with us all the way to the bus stop. It was really fun to walk with the whole community and to have children clamoring to hold your hand. But my favorite part, was that the new animal owners also walked with us either holding their baby chicks or leading their goats. I think it was a nice way to end this celebration, with the community and animals all together.

Saturday was a great moment and reminded me that the Spark concept truly works. This is an amazing community who developed a grant with a way to ensure its sustainability and equality within the community. Then months later were able to come together to usher in the next phase of their grant. Seeing the new animal owners and the other community members next in line to get animals’ excitement was really amazing. It is remarkable how the donation of one animal can make a difference not only in the life of one family, but also in many more.

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