Gift-Wrapped Goats and the Marginalized

As cookout season draws near, it is easy to forget about the billions of people who have no sustenance, no access to the many vitamins and minerals found naturally in meat. The children, the sick, the widowed and orphaned.

But if eating red meat does cause you to think about such people, have no fear! You can help! Just send those poor people a goat. Or a cow, or a bunny, or honeybees.

Groups like Heifer International, Oxfam, World Vision, and many more now offer livestock for purchase. After you send your donation, the animal is either shipped to a developing country, or purchased near the recipient’s home.

Most of these non-profits have very successful fundraising campaigns using this livestock option, especially around Christmas. But they have also been cited as abusive and irresponsible by animal rights groups and even some development experts.

One concern is that animals must have proper access to water, nourishment and veterinary care – all hard to come by in developing countries. Most of the non-profits working in livestock development claim that such concerns are not a problem, that they work within the recipient community to make sure the gift will be useful there, and train the caregivers in veterinary care and animal husbandry.

Even if their defense is true, it does not ease some protesters, who argue that while a donated heifer might have access to proper water, it will still consume resources (farmland, in particular) that could otherwise go to the community. Goats in particular have a tendency to destroy trees and gardens. And all livestock carries disease risks.

Animal rights activists are also concerned about the transporting of the animals over long distances and in extreme discomfort. For example, they claim that many chicks sent to needy families do not make it there alive.

And they express disapproval over the animal’s future after it is unable to produce any more milk, eggs, offspring, etc. When slaughtered, heifers can sometimes feed entire villages. So… they usually get slaughtered. Rather than being given an elaborate burial service, which might be what certain protesters would prefer.

Whatever your view on this debate, which has become increasingly public in the last five years or so, one thing that groups like Heifer International, Christian Aid, and all the rest offer is a reminder of what a blessing having livestock, and the resources to care for our livestock, truly is. But considering that we use our livestock to make frozen pancake-wrapped sausages, we probably aren’t learning all we could from the gift-wrapped goats.

Join In!

Where do you stand on this debate? Do you think it is socially responsible to send animals to struggling communities?

Is there a better use for our money? Add your thoughts here.

Opportunity in New York City:

For those of you in or near NYC, there will be an inter-faith rally at the Nigerian Consulate next Wednesday, April 7, to raise awareness for the mass slaughtering of Christian men, women and children in Nigeria in previous weeks. Please see the event’s website for more details.

5 Responses to “Gift-Wrapped Goats and the Marginalized”
  1. Fleur says:

    Surely it is much better to donate by teaching more efficient farming practices – sending developing countries more mouths to feed shows a ridiculous misunderstanding of the situation faced by people living in developing countries. These campaigns of sending animals to developing countries is a gimmick aimed at the sentimental and naieve. Be responsible, go green and save resources by going vegetarian.

    • Laura says:

      Yes, but being vegetarian also includes important sustenance from animals, like milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs. Without animals such as chickens, goats, sheep, etc this doesn’t exist and many children and women go under nourished. Being a vegan is possible in developed countries because we have access to the premium products available to ensure we are properly cared for and nourished. Without animals, developing nations don’t have this luxury.

      While I understand the argument of more mouths to feed and destroying farmland, there is and must be a delicate balance between livestock and farmland. We need to work with the communities to develop their land and animals properly because both are needed. There aren’t even doctors to care for all the people where the animals are going let alone vets, but in the grand scheme animals have lived many centuries without being poked and prodded. And the people and communities develop ways to care for and treat these animals with love and respect. Not our modern, western idea of sticking them in bed with us and cuddling them, but in a much more real and tangible way knowing that their survival as humans is deeply connected to the care and survival of their animals. Even if this means that they will at some point be slaughtered for food when required.

  2. Darrell says:

    I’m all in favor of donating animals to poor starving people so they can eat and maybe do something for thenselves for once. That is just ordinary human kindness from soneone who has more than enough.
    I will point out though that poverty in the third world should be attacked by eliminating much of its cause and that consists of supporting dictators through IMF and WB loans. Withdraw from those organizations and stop funding them. Let dictators steal their own money. Most IMF and WB loans come with an attachment on the resources of the debtor country. That is then used to exploit resources for the benefit of Western Corporations who give money to the political campaigns of various pond scum. The resources could be used to feed and benefit people but no we have to loan them money for “green projects” and other useless nonsense. These loans are always designed to fail, and there is always default.
    Quit exploiting these people, come home, mind your own business.

  3. Darrell says:

    Yes, virtually every country in Latin America at one time or another and much of South America as well with Columbia being most recent. Africa of today i. e. Somalia and Yeman and on a slightly different scale the problems of Iceland with the European Banks. I would recommend John Phillips book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” also Smedley Butler’s book “War is a Racket” published in 1936 but still a classic and finally R.J. Rummels “Death by Government” published in 1993. The best reference I can give is to look at how the IMF and WB were started at the Bretten Woods conference in 1944 when the Allied powers decided who would run the world in the future. The WB is headed by an American while the IMF is headed by a European. First WB head was John J. McCloy a Rockefeller lawyer and eugenicist who helped Rockefeller assist the Nazis with funding for their eugenics program. Then came Robert McNamera, one of the most evil men who has yet lived. Anyway I hope this brief sketch helps.

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