Malawi: “These goats changed my life”
Eight years ago, Rose Juwawo, from Balaka, in Malawi, received a goat through an Oxfam livelihoods program. Here, she tells how that goat has transformed her family’s life.
In 2001, I got a goat from Oxfam. The village chief together with the village development committee identified the most vulnerable people in the community. I was given a goat because my husband was very sick and couldn’t work and I was looking after six people in my household including two of my brother’s children who were orphaned when he died. We didn’t have any food and were dependant on me doing odd jobs for other people like weeding.
I was given training in how to build a kraal for goat-keeping and how to look after goats. The first goat I received was female and it gave birth to one female and one male goat. Because I received the goat as a loan, when my goat gave birth I had to give the female goat to another woman in the community as repayment.
My original goat gave birth again and so did some of her offspring until last year I had a total of 48 goats. Before I was living in a very small, dilapidated mud shack with a grass thatched roof, so I sold 21 goats and built this whole house with bricks, cement and iron sheets. Now I have 19 goats remaining of which I rent out three males to other people.
My husband is chronically ill but now that I have the goats I can sell one to pay for hospital fees and transport to the hospital and I have seen an improvement in my husband’s health. I get 4,500 Malawian kwachas (USD $51) for one goat in comparison to when I used to work in someone else’s field and received 200 Malawian kwachas (USD $1.42) for a whole day’s work.
I have no words to express how owning these goats has changed my life, any problems I encounter I sell a goat and then the problem is solved. I can buy anything I want, I can buy food and my children never go to bed hungry like before. If I didn’t own goats my youngest daughter would not have been able to go to school and I would be going round asking people for support to help pay for her school fees.
This year, when I was cultivating my garden, I was able to buy fertilizer for my maize that I bought from selling one goat. We also benefit from the manure from the goats, which we use as fertilizer for our crops. Last year the rains were good and my grain store was full. But this year, even though I applied fertilizer, the rains weren’t sufficient and I didn’t cultivate much maize. It will last until January but I will sell one goat to buy more maize to last until I can harvest again.
Building a livelihood
I also sold one of my goats and bought two chickens that have also bred. Before I had the chickens it was difficult to have alternative sources of food. After doing some odd jobs for people I might be able buy a few vegetables or some small fish. But now we can eat chicken and eggs whenever we want. Having access to more nutritious food has also improved my husband’s health.
One of my female goats is in kid at the moment and I will sell the kids when they are born to pay for more iron sheets to fix the roof on my house and pay my daughter’s school fees.
When I look at my goats or sleep at night in my new house I always think of the assistance Oxfam gave and am thankful.
As told to Nicola Ward, Oxfam.
Originally published by Oxfam Australia