Beginning in October 2008, the Women and Gender Studies Program partnered with the Women's Center for Job Creation (WCFJC), an NGO based in Minnesota and Uganda, to empower low-income women in Uganda.
The Women and Gender Studies Program started collecting donations for the Bulondo Goat Project, a project that provides goats for women in Uganda so that they can have sustenance for their families as well as develop small businesses.
"Giving a goat may feel like a very small thing to many of our local participants, but the impact that this goat individually and as part of a collective effort is huge," said Vicki Kirsch, Associate Director for Women and Gender Studies. "It helps bridge the local and the global in a concrete way."
Thus far, Women and Gender Studies has sponsored 38 goats for this project.
While the women utilize the goat milk for themselves, their families, and their businesses, the program requires that they give a baby goat back to the organization within eighteen months as a way to keep the project vital and expanding. Before they are eligible to receive a goat they must: build two gardens; one is a kitchen garden for their family and the other is a garden for the goat.
They must build a latrine for their family, and they must build a house, pen, eating area for the goat according to specifications outlined by WCFJC. They take a course in goat keeping/care and they must work with the vet to keep their goats healthy and inoculated.
During Earth Day 2009 at Mason, Women and Gender Studies invited several local goat breeders to come and present their goats as a way to raise awareness about goats and sustainable income for families here in Virginia.
Kirsch says that this fall Women and Gender Studies will invite Dorothy Tuma, President of WCFJC, to Mason to speak about her experiences as a social entrepreneur and about Uganda now.
This will be part of a larger event that will be focus on Women and Peacemaking - and will include at least two organizations based in Alexandria - one is called "Paper to Pearls" which takes beads created by women in Ugandan refugee camps and sells them as jewelry in the United States and the other is Empowered Women International: Sustainable Livelihoods for Women Artists.
Having the goats also provides an opportunity to educate Mason faculty, staff and students and the Fairfax community about violence and its' aftermath in Uganda and other African countries, and Women and Gender Studies' fundraising project.
"The program empowers students, staff and faculty to help women and families in a war-torn part of the world in a very direct way," said Kirsch.
June 11, 2009