Meet Joanne!

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 in AIDS Walk NY Campaign, Blog, Panel | 0 comments

Joanne is one of the lovely MRA clients we met while we were in Kenya. She was gracious enough to invite us into her home and let us meet the new addition to her family, her new Toggenberg goat Faith, gifted to her by MRA! My team members and I were very impressed at the fact that he had built her goat pen by herself with sticks and twigs from her own yard. While in Kenya we were able to visit many goat farms, and see many pens, this one was by far one of the cleanest and most up-kept of them all. Joanne’s daughter passed away from HIV/AIDS a few years ago, and Joanne was left to take care of her young grandson Maxwell. It was such a pleasure to meet healthy, and bright fifth grader Maxwell who giggled when we asked him what he thought of the new four-legged addition to the family. Meeting Medical Relief Alliance’s clients was definitely the highlight of my trip. After conducting our desk research in preparation of our literature review and field visits it was so rewarding to meet all the women who are a part of the Goat Hope Project. They were all so cheerful and welcoming, and sang songs and danced for us. This is a clip of a video from their weekly meeting as they welcomed us to Kenya and to their community....

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2012 in AIDS Walk NY Campaign, Blog, Panel | 0 comments

Today we met Nelson, 87 year-old goat farmer. He very much reminded me of my grandfather. I think it was their similar age, profession and self-assurance. (My grandpa is 92 year-old, life-long farmer in Bosnian.) While this made me take an immediate liking to the man, it was his prowess as goat farmer that justified my reverence. Though we visited several accomplished goat farmers, none provided as many valuable day-to-day tips on the best goat rearing practices. Our first lesson was on the importance of varied diet. He stressed that if we wanted our goats to produce good quantity and quality milk, we must feed them diverse foliage. He credited his success at breeding exotic goats (ie German Alpines and British Toggenburgs) where many locals failed to this recipe. As a vegetarian I could sympathize with the herbivores need for a varied diet! We also learned that an added-value of feeding the goats this variety was the aromas that it added to the goat milk. When Nelson finished giving us an educational tour of his farm, we were treated to an amazing stew and cup of chai made with goat milk! Due to our hypersensitive Western stomachs, we were hesitant to try the unpasteurized goat milk. After one sip, we let go of our inhibitions.  After the wonderful meal , we proceeded to have a photo shoot.  While it is impossible to forget such a lovely family, we are glad to be able to introduce you to this family via our photos. Vedrana...

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NYU Capstone Team Visits Kenya

Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 in AIDS Walk NY Campaign, Blog, Panel | 0 comments

Jambo!! Team Goat Hope recently came back from an exciting trip to Kenya. We wanted to share our experience starting from the first few days were there and periodically share the stories that touched us the most. At first, some of us were jet lagged but soon all of our tiredness evaporated after being enthusiastically welcomed by some the beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries of MRA at their weekly meeting. We were greeted with energetic dances and traditional songs on our very first day! It was pretty incredible and heart-warming to meet the clients of MRA first-sand and see their shining faces and ecstatic energy; some of which had already received goats and others patiently awaiting ones. After introductions, we proceed to have our first interview with an extension officer of the Kenya Livestock Breeder Organization. Despite our extensive research on goat breeding for three months before coming to Embu, there was much valuable information we learned about goat breeding in Kenya. After completing a hard day’s work and collecting much valuable information, we went on a trip to visit some of the homes of the beneficiaries of the goat hope project. On our first stop, we met the first goat: Faith and her newly home that was built by her owner in June. After standing in awe of the craftsmanship of Faith’s owner, we continued on to visit several other nearby farms where we had the chance to see how other families had accepted and incorporated new four-legged members to their households. It was remarkable to learn that the recipients had built beautiful pens to house their goats with their own hands. What a fantastic and admirable job! We also had an opportunity to meet some of the families waiting to receive their goats. One such family was Papa Denis and his two sons. It was humbling to be so warmly welcomed by Papa Denis and family after working on a scorching summer day on his maize farm. The family with two children stands to significantly improve their dietary intake with her support of our “bahhh” milk making friends. The need in the community was extremely evident, and experiencing it first-hand caused the team much more excitement to work with MRA on serving the Embu community in their Goat Hope Project! Boykin, Vedrana, and...

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NYU Capstone Team Goat Hope

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in AIDS Walk NY Campaign, Blog, Panel | 0 comments

This year Medical Relief Alliance partnered with New York University’s Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service’s Capstone project. The Capstone project is comprised of five students: Boykin Clarke, Caroline Keeley, Vedrana Misic,, Linda Rodriguez, and Valerie Varco. While all having a background in the non-profit sector their technical expertise varies in several different areas. The capstone team (Team Goat Hope) is focusing on creating a market analysis and business plan for MRA’s social venture goat farm in Embu, Kenya. In order to conduct the market analysis the team traveled from New York to Kenya this month. The team will be providing periodic update blog postings of their experience in...

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Posted by on Apr 3, 2011 in AIDS Walk NY Campaign, Blog, Panel | 0 comments

RECENT MRA PROJECT: RUVUMA TANZANIA One of the programs MRA undertakes is the GOAT HOPE. Goat Hope was established as a microenterprise, supporting both the nutritional and income needs to people affected by HIV/AIDS in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Even though, the program began in Kenya, MRA is proud to extend to other parts of Africa. One of the most recent places is in Ruvuma Tanzania. WHAT IS GOAT HOPE? MRA distributes dairy goat to families where at least one family member is affected with HIV/AIDS. The goat provides milk to the family for consumption, and the sale of the surplus brings income to the family. WHY GOAT HOPE? I am going to use some big words here, but don’t panic!Immunodeficiency disorder or immunosuppression simply means suppression of the immune system in the human body. This may occur for many reasons, one of which is AIDS. Research shows that goat milk is easy to digest than cow milk. It is also high in nutrients such as Vitamin B1, B6 and contains Niacin content, therefore helping people suffering from immunodeficiency disorder. Also, goat is more easily acceptable in the Sub-Saharan African cultures. It requires low resources to sustain and grow their herds, resulting in higher return. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? On average, the Goat Hope project approximately costs $5,500 annually. The funds are used to purchase 24 crossbred dairy goats which are leased to six households (i.e. four goats per household), with at least one member affected with HIV/AIDS. The funds are also used to provide training, constant evaluation and support to local NGOs on implementing and managing the Goat Hope project. OUR SUCCESS RATE? To date, MRA has implemented the Goat Hope project to over 30 households in Kenya. These households represent over 300 children, women and men affected with HIV/AIDS. Over 100 goats have been gifted to beneficiaries in three Kenyan provinces. BEYOND KENYA TO RUVUMA TANZANIA Ruvuma Tanzania has the similar rural settings as Kenya. We believe that the Goat Hope will have similar success in Ruvuma Tanzania, addressing better economic and health outcome among people affected by...

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Thank You for Supporting MRA!

Posted by on Jan 14, 2011 in AIDS Walk NY Campaign, Blog, Panel | 0 comments

Thank You for Your Support to MRA!Hello! Great News! Goats have been delivered to 9 households in Transmara Kenya. The Goat Hope beneficiaries represent 60 children, women and men affected with HIV/AIDS. A few weeks ago we shared the profile of two families and today we list the other seven family profiles below. Kinangare Keiyua Family – Ms. Keiyua, a widow with three children, is HIV positive. Ms. Keiyua has maintained a very healthy lifestyle (considering the standards of living in rural Kenya) mainly through tilling her land where she grows very nutritious food crops (spinach, various legumes and fruit). The Keiyua diet, however, lacks animal protein that is particularly important for healthy growth of the younger children and a stronger immune system for Ms. Keiyua. The two goats they will receive will be extremely crucial in supplementing their household diet. Kinangare Tiringa Family is one of the smaller households impacted with HIV/AIDS in Enoosean Village, Transmara, Kenya. Ms. Tiringa, also HIV positive, keeps herself optimistic by rearing chicken that she sells to provide for resources that purchase her households food and other subsistent needs. The goats will be instrumental in supplementing their household income and furthering Ms. Tiringa’s goal of educating her children. Kinyingita Naigisa – Poses with her daughter and granddaughter. While Ms. Naigisa is not HIV positive, her daughter and granddaughter are. She has therefore assumed the role of caretaker at her golden years and the goats her household receive will be extremely important for her daughter and granddaughters nutrition. Naibaituni Nairimo household is one of the few families endowed with resources that can enable them quickly emerge from below the poverty line. Because this household has a son who is primary school educated and strong enough to perform various agricultural activities, their diet and economic outlook, though dire, is not as catastrophic as the other family profiles. The goats are the boost the Nairimo family needs to establish a stronger economic footing that can catapult them to an income level of $1500 – 2500 annually, just barely above the UN defined poverty line threshold. The goat milk will also be useful in providing much needed nutrition for Ms. Nairimo’s daughter who is HIV positive. Naoroi Nangea Family represents the unfortunate emerging trend in most of Africa’s Sub Saharan villages where the grandparents are having to play the role of caregiver after their grandchildren are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Mama Nagea is almost 80 years old and her eight grandchildren were recently orphaned by AIDS that claimed the lives of their parents. Prior to the role of caretaker, Mama Nangea was already struggling to feed herself and could barely make it economically. Having been thrust into the role of provider again, Mama Nangea and family profiles like hers depend on projects like Goat Hope as the only lifeline. Medical Relief Alliance, Inc. will work closely with the local government officials in Enoosean to ensure that Mama Nangea receives the support she needs to be successful in rearing her dairy goats. Beyond the two goats she’ll receive, MRA intends to gift her additional two goats in 2011 owing to the size and need in her family. Narku Naigisa Family is another very hopeful family that requires a minimal support before breaking through to marginally live above the UN defined poverty line. Because of the age, size and resources available to this family, Ms. Naigisa is in a better position that many of her HIV/AIDS widowed counterparts to educate her daughter. Naisum, her daughter is a brilliant student and aspires to be the first veterinary officer in her village....

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