My roommates and I have been wanting to buy a goat.
Kelsey, one of my fellow Nifty Northerners (AgriCorps volunteers in the Northern Region) lives in a small small village and has a baby goat born right outside her compound at least once a day. She is also fantastic friends with several farmers near her home in Gbulahagu. She seemed pretty confident that she would be able to find a goat for sale somewhere.
Yesterday, Chloe (my boss) and I went to visit her! While we were standing in her compound, Abdulah, one of her best farmer friends, walks up to say hello. After chit chatting for awhile, Kelsey asked him if he had found a goat that was for sale. He said he wasn’t sure and we switched to a different subject.
After awhile, Chloe, Kelsey, and I went to the school to chat with the headmaster and some other teachers. Then we walked to the irrigation dam that is near Gbulahagu. It’s one of the coolest development projects I have ever seen. Shared by 5-7 communities, it provides irrigation for hundreds of farmers in the area. The farmers pay a small fee to use the water and land, after that they can use their space for whatever crop they want (right now mostly rice). There are still some challenges with it, but it is pretty awesome.
When we got back to Kelsey’s compound, a little boy was sitting outside with a goat on a rope. It was Abdulah’s oldest son, Ibrahim. He sat there kind of awkwardly and a bit confused. After a bit of a language struggle, our driver, Malik, asked him if the goat was for sale. Ibrahim said we should go talk to his father. Abdula appeared around the corner of a building. He stated that he was giving the goat to Kelsey as a gift and she was to gift it to me. I was totally overwhelmed. After fruitlessly trying to figure out how to get him to accept money for the goat, I gave up, said thank you, and accepted the goat.
In the North, there is a custom called Taquesi (pronounced ta kwe see). When you receive a gift, you send a small token back with the delivery person (usually the son or daughter of the gifter). They then bring this to their mother/father to show they have delivered the gift successfully. Thank goodness Malik was there to inform me of this. I gave the boy 5 cedi (About $1.25).
And now I have a goat. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and once again in awe of the power of relationships. The price of an adult goat could pay a child’s school fees for a year. They are mini bank accounts. Receiving this gift is huge. While I know Abdulah is a very good farmer, it’s still an enormous gift to receive. Malik told me on the way back “When we are happy, we want to share our happiness. Abdulah is sharing his happiness with you.”
Our small goat does not have a name yet (open to suggestions, so far we have Milo, Toffee, Sweet Cheeks, Reindeer, and Biscuit in the running). She is a young goat, never had a baby, still growing. I live in a large compound where she can roam around in without getting into any one else’s gardens or fields. And she can mow our “lawn” and prune our trees and shrubs. In a couple months she’ll be ready to breed. Since I’m leaving in June I haven’t decided if I want to breed her (and maybe have a baby when I leave!), sell her, or eat her when I leave. Either way, I love having an animal to take care of again.
This might be one of the most incredible gifts I have ever received in my life. Once again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and in awe of the power of friendship.