The goat – one of the first animals domesticated by man – is an intelligent and social animal who provides us with a great many uses including milk, clothing material, fuel, and more. With the unique trait of having twins most of the time and the ability to digest almost any food, goats are a hardy animal that are easy to breed and raise even in the most inhospitable environments. In India, the goat has long been a part of the culture. Able to thrive across the country’s geographically diverse regions, there are few animals more important to the Indian economy. In particular, the goat has been vital to the livelihood of those living in rural areas.
The Community Action, Development, Liberative, and Education (CANDLE) is an organization which aims to lift widowed Indian women of lower castes, including the dalit (untouchable) class, to a new era of economic prosperity, sustainability, empowerment, and pride. Over the past year, the organization with the support of donor funds from CAF Canada was able to work towards achieving this goal through a project focused on providing widowed women with goats as a means to better their livelihood.
The project focuses on supporting a small group of women living in five different villages in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu: Indranagar, Vivekanadapuram, Kunnavayal, Kamarajnagar, and Rengammal Chatram. The women usually rely on seasonal agriculture to make their living, which often falls on a 90-day period during the year. But with at least one goat per household, these women have the ability to sustain themselves and their families year-round by harnessing a variety of the goats uses. Through the Widowed Women Goat project, each women is given a healthy goat and provided training by a veterinary doctor about goat rearing including vaccinations, insemination periods, child goat rearing, fodder systems and uses for dung and other wastes. Part of the training also involves lessons on insurance and monthly checkups for the goats as well as ideas on how to market various goat-based products to provide the women with the fundamental skills and income to become financially self-reliant. The women, who are often marginalized or worse because of their widowship and who would find it difficult or impossible to rely on others to help provide for their families, are now equipped with sustainable means to support themselves and their children in a way that instills pride and status among a historically oppressed group of people. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CAF Canada awarded a project distribution in the amount of $5,500 to CANDLE in 2016.