By: Willow Welter   |   Posted: September 28, 2022

Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you give a goat to charity? Learn how a Ugandan family’s entire livelihood was transformed by livestock given through the Compassion Gift Catalog.

What Really Happens When You Give a Goat?

Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you give a goat to charity? Learn how a Ugandan family’s entire livelihood was transformed by livestock given through the Compassion Gift Catalog.

Written by Willow Welter
Photos by Emily Turner
a girl stands with a goat

When you give a goat through the Compassion Gift Catalog, how exactly does it get to a child in need? And, more importantly, how does it really help?

It’s a common question from gift catalog shoppers — and not just about goats. Whether you donate a mosquito net, water well, Bibles or any other catalog gifts that help people in need, the actual gifts are bought and distributed by the local church workers who serve kids in Compassion-assisted child development centers. These staff members and volunteers live and work in the same communities as sponsored children. They get to know each child on a personal level and understand what would best help the children’s families.

Goats are a powerful (and cute) example of how giving through the Compassion Gift Catalog can change the story for a family living in poverty.

Like Patience’s family.

a girl stands in front of her home

The 10-year-old girl lives in a rural area of Uganda with her parents and siblings. She goes to a Compassion center based at a church down a long dirt road from her home. The meals she eats there have always been a big relief for her parents, especially since a drought in Uganda has made crops much harder to grow in recent years. Patience’s parents couldn’t even grow enough food to feed themselves — let alone extra to sell for income.

“We didn’t have a lot in terms of harvests, in terms of clothing, in terms of medical care,” says Patience’s mom, Dinah. “We basically didn’t have anything. But when they took on Patience [in Compassion’s program], we got relief.”

To make the family’s situation more pressing, Dinah had newborn twins.

“I gave birth to them during the drought, which was all over the media — a very difficult time with no food, with a lot of sunshine,” she says. “It was a very difficult Caesarean.”

Dinah’s recovery from the birth was slow. She wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed, and she wasn’t producing enough breastmilk to feed her baby girls. “Initially, I would buy milk if I had money,” she says. “But if I did not have money, I’d just give them porridge without any milk, which was very difficult for them.”

Dinah despaired as her husband searched for work in their village.

But one day, the director of Patience’s Compassion center visited with joyful news.

a boy stands with two goats

Using donations given through the Compassion Gift Catalog, he was able to buy goats for their family and others in their community who had the greatest needs. And to make sure the animals made the biggest possible impact, the church would provide training to all goat recipients.

Patience’s family received four pregnant goats, and Dinah began going to the training course and passing along all she learned to the rest of her family.

“I learned quite a number of things,” Dinah recalls. “I learned to feed them well. I learned to vaccinate them so that the ticks do not make them sick. I learned to give them salt because it is valuable for their health. And I also learned we need to keep washing them so that they keep healthy.”

With the help of church workers, the family built a wooden pen for the goats, dug a compost pit where goat manure would be used to make fertilizer, and started grazing the animals on a schedule. Soon each goat gave birth to one kid.

Patience helps care for the growing herd. “If we are going to leave home for the whole day, we leave them with peelings for them to eat,” she says. “We get manure from the goats. We apply the manure in our coffee plantations, and then when the coffee grows well, we sell the coffee.”

a mother holds her two babies

But the goats produced so much more than a great fertilizer. With their milk, Dinah was able to supplement her breastmilk to feed the twins. As the goat herd grew stronger, so did the twins — now healthy toddlers. Their father tends to the flourishing banana and coffee crops, which he now sells for a steady income.

“I want to thank the people who gave us the goats,” Dinah says. “We have looked after the goats, and we have gotten a huge relief. I believe if other families get goats, they would also be as relieved as we are.”

That’s the power of giving a goat.

Whether you give a goat or another gift through the Compassion Gift Catalog, you can trust that the church workers who partner with Compassion will know exactly how to use it to best serve children. Giving a gift without seeing the actual receiving of the gift requires an act of faith, but that faith generates limitless possibilities in the lives of the families Compassion serves. Is there any better gift than that?

You can give a goat to change the life of a family like Patience’s. Find out how!

Learn More About Giving a Goat!