What do hippos, goats, and rollers have in common? Everything if you're in Rwanda.
I'm here in Rwanda for my 7th visit in less than five years. Nothing is better than doing what you're meant to do with people of vision and integrity. The work of the Itafari Foundation allows all of us to work with people determined to be known by their strength and resilience, not by a genocide that happened 16 years ago. The past should never be forgotten, but the future lies ahead of us: full of hope, challenges, joy, sorrow and impossible problems which will be solved.
One of our problems right now is getting water to the goats in our child headed households. Each of these 35 cooperatives, which are in the south, east and northern regions of Rwanda have been given 15 nanny goats and a billy goat from S. Africa. Their task: raise the goats, plant elephant grass for feed, use the manure for fertilizer, run their small business and within about three years become self sufficient. A huge task - much more so for children raising their siblings. But NEVER underestimate the power of the human spirit and a big dream to be independent.
Today I go back to Nyagatare to visit the first cooperative to whom we gave goats to in 2007. They call themselves the Power of Love! They get the need to inspire themselves and are aptly named. They've had success but also some severe challenges. Water is not always easily accessible. And goats are thirsty. The minerals they are given make them thirstier.
To get water to them requires the herdsman to fill jerry cans full of water. They each weigh about 45 pounds when full. Can you imagine carrying one for each goat each day over the land of 1,000 hills? The herd we were looking at has 35 goats. Can you imagine walking miles and miles each day carrying 45 pounds in your arms? Understandably, neither can the herdsman!
But if I've learned one thing in my work in Rwanda it's that you don't keep your problems to yourself; you ask others how they can help you.
Before I left for Rwanda I was speaking of my thirsty goats and said, "I don't know how we'll solve this impossible problem, but we will!" Two people from the audience came up and offered to help. One mentioned HIPPO ROLLERS which are on display at OMSI in Portland. Had I ever heard of them? No. the other person sent me the link to their site: http://hipporoller.org/ and then offered to buy three for Itafari and our cooperatives.
From there, the dream has grown bigger. The Hippo Rollers, which allow a woman or child to move 200 pounds of water EASILY only costs $100 each! It's the shipping that's the killer. But, impossible situations are meant to be solved, and we'll figure it out. In the meantime, the first person that offered to help donated $500, then another friend donated $1,000. We have enough to buy 15 rollers - and we've only just begun.
Have YOU ever been extremely thirsty? What do you do? Get water. Not so easy for a goat, a young person trying to carry water, or a group of people trying to thrive on their own. But you can help. Give us a hand, and literally, the children will do the heavy lifting which you have just made light.
Many things are changing in Rwanda - for the better. But there will always be challenges if you want to make a difference in the world. And I do. And so do all the many donors of Itafari. Join us. Send me an email letting me know your interest. I'll contact you when I return home on February 21st.
$100. In Rwanda, a hippo roller becomes a gift to a cooperative of children determined to raise goats, raise their standard of living and raise their opportunities in life. Can you imagine?
Write to me at Vicky@itafari.org or call the Itafari office with your donation at 503-636-3692. If you want to give on the website go to http://itafari.org/donate and check give any amount - make sure you note as you pay that you want it to go for a hippo roller.
Murakoze cyane! (thank you so much!) Warmly, Vicky