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To make dreams come true...

7th October 2010

I was given a goat for Christmas last year.

Actually, I didn’t get the goat. I got a card to say that I had been given a goat. The goat was given to somebody else – a struggling family in Mozambique. I understand.

They’ve had the benefit of the goat for the past year. The main benefit, I am told, is the rich milk the goat produces for the family. It’s a benefit, I am assured, that will be ongoing.

A colleague asked me how I felt about getting a goat. I said that I felt pretty good, even though I had never seen the goat. He said he felt the same about the chickens he had been given under similar circumstances. Like my goat, the chickens went to somebody else in Tanzania.

It’s a great idea. It’s like receiving, but giving, at the same time. The Salvation Army International Development (SAID) office in Sydney makes it possible through a program to assist less fortunate people in mainly Third World countries.

Salvation Army representatives in the countries apply for funding, the International Development office finds the funds and the money is sent to the area in need. Most of the money is given by people like you and me – or on behalf of you and me. In the last financial year, more than$160,000 was donated. My goat was paid for from a $45donation by a family member.

My colleague’s chickens cost $10 per chook. Pigs cost $65 and sheep $80.You can give somebody a mosquito net or a school desk for $25. My corps last year gave ourselves 100 desks for others to use in one of the struggling countries.

There are lots of other gift ideas – a wheelchair for $100, a blackboard for $70,seed packs for $65 – even an entire water system for a village. Chickens, goats and feeding programs for children were the three most popular gifts last year.

This is how it works: You or a person making a gift in your name donate to a project. The donation is sent to the International Development office and then passed on to the appropriate Salvation Army territory of the project. The project territory distributes the donations to the local corps or centre overseeing the project.

Ninety per cent of the donation is spent on the intended objective. Ten per cent issued for administration costs. Donors receive a card. If a donation is made on behalf of somebody else as their birthday or Christmas present, for example, they receive the card. Last year, two couples asked that instead of receiving wedding gifts, guests provide donations to a project. Almost $2000 was given. Another two families asked that instead of flowers at the funeral of a family member, attenders donate to a project.

“There are numerous ways that gifts can be given,” says International Development office information and resources officer Betsy Pineda. “We call them gifts that keep on giving. ”For example, a pig is given to a family on condition that a couple of its piglets are given back for the benefit of other families.

From the Kenya East Territory, Australian Projects Officer Marshall Currie reports that a school desks campaign was incredibly successful. That’s the project my corps supported. Hundreds of desks we refinanced for three schools. There has been such a shortage that three to four children had been sharing one desk, or sitting on the floor to do their school work.

Just in time for Christmas, the SAID office has launched its 2010-11 gift catalogue, which is included with this month’s Pipeline. Orders can also be placed here.

So, place your Christmas gift orders now. Give your mate a goat, maybe. Like me, not only will they feel they have done something good for somebody else, they will still be talking about it this time next year.


Bill Simpson is a senior writer for Pipeline and supplements.


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