Friday, November 28, 2008

A girl and a goat- a non-fable for our hard times

Camp Connell, Ca. - At this time of year -- Thanksgiving to Christmas with an economic collapse in between -- we were heartened in the past few weeks to learn a bit more about a girl named Beatrice. She's actually a young woman now, but her story begins for us when she was a nine-year-old living in a poor village in Uganda.
Uganda is one of those places on the far side of the world which we will probably never visit, much less understand.
But we know about Beatrice and her situation because of a children's book, "Beatrice's goat."
Briefly, the book relates the true story of how Beatrice's family was living in such tragic poverty, she could not even attend a nearby school. She stayed home to help her mother with the younger brothers and sisters. She really really wanted to go to school, and played at being a student as she watched from afar.
Then her family was chosen to be one of 12 in her village to receive a free goat. The goat was named "Luck" because that was what the family hoped it would bring. It did. The goat quickly delivered not one but two kids -- named "Expected" and "Surprise." As the kids grew older the extra milk was sold to other villagers.
That one goat provided enough for the family to send Beatrice to school, and then the abundance brought in enough coins that the mother tore down their small shack and rebuilt a real home with a roof and sides.

One goat.

That's all it took to change the lives of everyone in the family. The children's book ends there, but there is a sequel.
Turns out that the benefits of the goat and the attention from the book generated enough money for Beatrice to leave Uganda and attend college in the United States.
She graduated in May, 2008, went home for the summer, and is now back in the U.S. attending graduate school.
Pat called the story of Beatrice to my attention this year when she was working on a Sunday school program for children, hoping to teach them something about sharing and caring. She turned the story into a little play for the children, who performed it in church last Sunday -- Heifer Project Sunday.
Heifer Project International, as some of you may recall, is one of our favorite successful and worthwhile non-governmental organizations we had researched and decided to support several years ago.
I don't think we ever sent a goat. but we have sent numerous beehives all over the world. For someone who made their living at "The Bee" for most of my professional life, it seemed appropriate.
There are more little girls and boys out there who could use your help. Check it out at

And enjoy your holidays.

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