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Chandrakala Giri has always been a farmer. She considers herself fortunate compared to other members of her Jagriti Swabalamban Group in Nepal. She had a house and a farm and some goats even before she participated in a Heifer International project. She and her husband have worked hard to make ends meet for the couple’s two sons and two daughters, but they haven’t earned enough to be able to save. They were average farmers in their village of Pairoha.
For Chandrakali, like many others, working with Heifer was more than just animals. It was about learning new and better ways to do what she and her family had done for generations. She was raising a few goats and was growing maize, rice and paddy. She didn’t know the dangers of inbreeding or that animals needed to be taken to a doctor when sick. And though her goats were profitable, they didn’t make her as much as they do today.
Heifer supported her with a lactating buffalo, along with vegetable and forage seeds and saplings. She received training in Heifer’s Cornerstones, group management, improved animal management, organic kitchen gardening gender justice and reproductive health and HIV \AIDS awareness training. She also received fodder and forage production training.
The animal management and organic kitchen gardening trainings were especially beneficial. Chandrakala has built a better pen for her 30 goats, most being raised as meat goats. Her lessons on inbreeding has produced more live births and the buffalo she received in July 2008 is producing good quantities of milk for her family, giving her excess to sell to a local milk collection center for income.
Chandrakala and her husband are also diversifying their farm. Planting the vegetable sapling they received from Heifer has given them vegetables for the family and saved them money. This year they planted tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and chilies, and the tomatoes are almost ripe and ready to sell. Chandrakala is certain the vegetables will bring a good income for her family.
The family also looks forward to selling the next batch of meat goats for a profit, and since they started planting their own fodder, raising goats seems to take only half the time it used to. Before, Chandrakali spent almost half the day collecting fodder from the forest, and planting improved fodder like mendola, napier and bhatmase, has improved the animals’ health. The goats are growing faster and look healthier, and healthier goats weigh more and sell for more.
For Chandrakala Giri, a little help went a long way.