Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Charity that Works: Give a Goat

The first in a new occasional series, I'm going to highlight a charity that actually works.  I'm not sure if this is the same organization, specifically, that my church uses, but it does the same thing. 

My congregation, the Mansfield Church of Christ in Mansfield, TX, supports a missionary, Salvidor Cariaga, in the Philippines.  His focus is on empowering the people of the Philippines to lift themselves out of poverty.  Among the tools he uses is "Give a Goat."

There are a few groups that do this.  The idea is this: to an impoverished family, a goat is a gift that keeps on giving.  A goat's wool (well: fleece) provides a source of income.  A goat's milk provides nourishment.  There are more than a few successful families now in the Philippines that have graduated from Cariaga's program.

See, families are not just given a goat and told, "go and prosper."  Families are selected based on criteria (specific selection criteria vary from group to group), and are then helped in preparing for becoming, in essence, small business owners.  They're educated about how to raise the goat, how to market the fleece milk products.  Many of them use the proceeds from the goat products to buy additional goats, and start farming them.  In this way, they not only expand their own wealth, they then begin hiring others to tend their flocks, thus helping others out of poverty as well.

This is the way charity should work.  Government is not involved any more than is absolutely necessary.  The people helped are not merely given a gift which they will, by human nature, not particularly value.  Recipients are not merely the people who are "the most needy" but those most likely to succeed and, in their success, bring others out of poverty as well.

This is charity done correctly.  Charity should not be a government endeavor.  The nature of government is such that it can never be done correctly.  Charity should not make life easy.  Charity should require work on the part of the recipient.  And one gift should have the opportunity to assist more than just the initial recipient.

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