The Gift of a Goat

Gradually, the river becomes smaller and smaller until we have to duck our heads not to get smashed by heavy branches. The tunnel of greenery winds through the wetlands of Bocas del Polochic, at Lake Izabal, Guatemala. The driver tilts the engine so we won't get caught in the thick, subaquatic roots reaching their tentacles toward the boat. Out of nowhere, a rickety pier appears. We have reached land. After a quick ride on a pick up truck we reach Semuy 2, a village flanked by a huge palm oil plantation on all sides except uphill, facing Sierra de las Minas. People farm on the steep hillsides. Only the soccer field is located on flat land. When she first started working with the community, many children had reddish hair caused by malnourishment, recalls Heidy García, the director of FDN’s Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge. Now nutrition levels have improved significantly, thanks to the tilapia ponds, goats, chicken, cocoa plantations, and other products, as part of our BIOFORESA program. We collaborate with Heifer, which uses the “passing on the gift” model, meaning families that receive, say a goat, have to pass on the first female offspring to another family. It’s such a great way of multiplying the program’s effect and to help the families achieve self-reliance that FDN has decided to adopt the model in all our relevant programs. Helping the communities is the best and fairest way to save the natural resources.

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