After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Relief International immediately considered its impact on women and children. In the aftermath of the disaster, women -- especially mothers -- were in need of recovery so they could continue to provide food for their families.
In order to help the women of Haiti, Relief International teamed up with an on-the-ground local Organization for Economic Development of Roche-a-Bateau, Haiti (ODER) as a way to build capacity among local Haitian organizations to help their own people. ODER, like Relief International, promotes the empowerment of women by enabling women help themselves through small enterprise.
As a joint project, Relief International and ODER provide goats to members of the Roche-à-Bateau community in a group lending structure. The way it works is simple: ODER’s executive committee selects women from the community to each receive three goats and become part of the ODER cooperative. For a woman to be considered for membership, she must first build her own goat pen at her home.
In addition to the goats, women receive training in goat husbandry and have regular consultations with the ODER cooperative veterinarian. The women are also able to mate their goats with the cooperative’s male goat. By breeding the three female goats they receive with the buck, each woman has the potential to produce between six to nine young goats a year. These goats give the women the ability to have a continuous income stream through the sale of goat milk and offspring.
Marie, a Haitian mother of five children, received goats as a part of Relief International and ODER’s project in Roche-à-Bateau. Raising goats helped diversify her agricultural activities and allowed her to earn more money so that she could pay for her children’s school fees. When Relief International met with Marie, she expressed a genuine interest in microfinance and urged that ODER develop microfinance assistance for future entrepreneurs like herself. During this meeting, Marie and her family expressed thanks to donors who care about the Haitian people’s struggles.
The point of the program is to assist women and their families in the long term. After two years, the women repay ODER the value of the original goats. Through this repayment scheme, ODER is able to make future loans to other women. In this way, the initial donations of Relief International’s supporters will continue to help women in Haiti for years to come.
In fact, the Goats for Haiti program received much of its support from funds raised through $25 donations on the Relief International website and campaigns made through California schools. Relief International was able to raise $4,266 USD to support the Goats for Haiti project.
“Thanks to the generosity of the American public, Relief International was able to respond to the needs of the Haitian population in ways that reinforce community solidarity. Through the gift of goats to women affected by the 2010 earthquake, Relief International is helping families improve their lives and most importantly, reduce their risk to future disasters,” said Emily Romero, Relief International’s Haiti Program Manager.
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