Saving the world

I’m having a lot of fun in isolation, and one of the more unusual things I have been doing is that I bought a goat.

You see, I’ve been helping a charity I support with their website to fix a few niggles, clean up the presentation, and improve search engine optimisation, as well as set up various tools for admins to be able to look at statistics showing how many visitors there were on any day and which pages were visited. As a result I’ve been keeping on top of charity news more diligently. The charity is called Afrikaya and this is their website:

Afrikaya website
The Afrikaya website.

A little plug here: if anyone needs help with their website or any other IT related work feel free to contact me.

Anyway, back to the story. I found out about Afrikaya in 2016, about a year after I started learning the darbuka – a Middle-Eastern drum – while searching online for a drum circle I could join after moving to Devizes.

One of my darbukas.

The drum circle is run by Di and Geoff Miles and the main instrument used is the African djembe (I have one of those too) although all percussion instruments are welcome as are players of all levels. It’s also great fun. I encourage you to check it out and join it when the opportunity arises.

It was at the drum circle that I found out more about the Afrikaya project which was formed in 2007 with the intention to build a nursery school for children who struggle to access education in The Gambia, specifically in New Yundum. The drum circle is one of the ways they raise funds.

And so time goes by and I’m amazed by what the charity accomplishes when I decide, in 2019, to sponsor a child. For such a small sum of money this is what sponsorship provides for the child:

  • School Fees
  • School uniform
  • School materials such as reading books, exercise books, play materials, pens, pencils, paints, paper
  • A light, healthy meal each school day
  • A contribution to school development fund
  • Health care and medication from a qualified nurse

All that for such a small amount of money. It was at this point that I began to realise just how lucky and rich I am.

Anyway, roll on to the pandemic and of course this is affecting everyone on planet earth, and Afrikaya, and The Gambia, and the families of New Yundum, so a clarion call was made and money raised to the help the families of the children while the country is in lockdown. I bought a sack of rice. That should last a couple of months. So much for so little.

Then I heard goats being mentioned. And then photos. Here’s a goat (as if you didn’t know what one looks like):

A goat

These look like goats, but they’re not:

These are not goats.

They are sheep.

Goats will live for 12 to 14 years and are used for milk and people are aware of the nutritional value and that they can give to babies if they have problems with breast milk or formula milk.

Little herds, or family groups, are often seen in New Yundum – 3 or 4 nannies, a billy and some kids. I’ve been told it’s more usual to see flocks of sheep which many non-Africans confuse with goats as they don’t look like sheep in Europe (now you know why I included a photo of sheep). They are mostly left to roam free during the day and are back in family compounds as dusk approaches at around 6.30pm every day.

The families will breed from the goats which is why a billy goat was bought for one family. Members of the community all help one another so the billy goat owner will not lack for milk! At the end of life goats continue to be useful. Goat meat is eaten. Every part of the goat is used, including bones for glue and the skin for drum making:

It has been shown conclusively that education is the most powerful tool to end poverty. I had already sponsored a child to have that education so I thought I should do a little bit more to help with food security for the family. This in turn may provide an environment where education can flourish more easily. It’s what I would call a win-win situation.

So, I bought them a goat.

For you never know, that child might save the world.

If you can help at all, or are just curious about the project, please visit https://www.afrikaya.co.uk.