(GlobeMed blog) — On August 1st, GlobeMed at UCLA’s GROW team arrived in Uganda to begin their 6-week GROW internship on the ground with their partner organization, the Amuru Youth Center, in Anaka, Uganda. Over the past year, they have been working with the Youth Center to design a goat income-generating project for 30 vulnerable young mothers, but, as college students from Los Angeles, expertise in animal husbandry was not one of their many strengths. They were halfway around the world and in need of knowledgeable advice.
The solution? GWED-G, GlobeMed at Columbia’s partner in Gulu, Uganda. GWED-G and Columbia successfully launched a goat income-generation project in 2009-2010 and learned many valuable lessons along the way. What began as 21 goats, 3 each for 7 families, has since grown to 40 over the past year. The goats have provided a steady source of nutrition and income, allowing these seven families to live on more than a dollar a day and afford a balanced diet, school fees, and health services.
Pamela, the director of GWED-G, was more than happy to welcome the UCLA GROW intern team into her home. With the team gathered at her kitchen table enjoying a dinner of cassava, beans, rice and g-nut suace, Pamela shared the best practices and lessons that GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia had gained from their project the previous year. Claire Prieto, the UCLA GROW coordinator summarized 3 key lessons from their meeting:
- A goat is not always a gift: It’s not something that a family can just get and enjoy, it takes work and responsibility without being instantly gratifying. A gift can be a burden if the beneficiary cannot support it. Be aware of what limitations beneficiaries already have and what implications they will have on their abilities to support and utilize a goat.
- Quality over quantity: if you split your resources to affect a larger number of beneficiaries, you are ultimately decreasing the chance of a lasting impact for each. It is better to change the life of one person for the better, than to slightly effect ten people’s lives.
- Emphasize the long term: You get a goat, so what? Help beneficiaries draw out a long-term plan for how the gift of a goat may help them achieve their ultimate goal. Start a business, go back to school, etc. Do not leave the project after giving the goat, make sure that the goat will be instrumental in achieving a far greater goal
Pamela, the director of GWED-G, said,
“GlobeMed is one institution, the difference is the chapters. So it’s important that if we share regions or project locations, we need to create some linkages or share best practices.”
Pamela, we couldn’t agree more. This sharing of best practices across students, grassroots organizations and communities in Gulu, Uganda, is one of the tangible results of our network: together, we are improving the health of people living in poverty.
Maya Cohen is the current Program Director for GlobeMed.
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