A Goat Means Hope 

On the cover of this year’s Holt Gifts of Hope catalog, Bemnet beams holding onto one of his family’s goats in Ethiopia. Because for Bemnet and his family, a goat means stability and hope — and a future without poverty.

Down a long dirt path in rural Ethiopia, a metal gate opens up into a neighborhood of sorts. More small paths fan out from the main one to connect houses, home gardens, water spigots and other communal areas. Many of the homes are made of mud and thatched roofs.

But 10-year-old Bemnet’s house is different. It’s the first one you come to behind the gate, and it’s tall and made of sturdy concrete.

Bemnet’s family is stable and self-reliant and his mom Ayana is a leader in their community. Their house shows that they are thriving, but there’s something else that makes this obvious as well… Something that’s cute and hooved and frolicking around their yard — four goats!

Goats: A Favorite Gift of Hope for Families in Need

Gifts of Hope Catalog Cover of smiling boy with goat
Bemnet smiles with one of his goats on the cover of this year’s Gifts of Hope catalog.

A photo of Bemnet with one of his goats is featured on the cover of this year’s Gifts of Hope catalog, a catalog full of lifesaving, life-changing tangible gifts that Holt donors can give to children and families in need. Nearly every year, we choose a photo of a child with a goat for the cover because a goat is one of the most impactful items a family can receive to lift them from poverty.

And this is exactly what happened for Bemnet and his family.

Bemnet’s parents got married when his mother was young, and they soon had a daughter and eventually three more sons. Bemnet’s father was the primary provider for their family, until one day he got sick. He was in the hospital for three months.

“I felt very isolated during this time,” Ayana says. Eventually her husband was well enough to go home, but he still couldn’t work to provide for the family like he used to.

Ayana didn’t know what she would do. She never even graduated from school herself. But now, she needed to provide the fees and supplies required to send each of her kids to school. Not to mention feed them each day…

It was then, in 2015, that she and her family enrolled in Holt’s economic empowerment program in the rural community where they live in Ethiopia.

Economic Empowerment Through Livestock

In Ethiopia and around the world, Holt’s economic empowerment programs equip struggling parents with the tools, education and experience they need to earn a stable income and provide for their children. Ultimately, these programs help families become strong and self-reliant, prevent separation and help children grow and thrive. 

A boy and his mom post with goats outside their home in Ethiopia

And one of the most powerful tools for economic empowerment is livestock.

Right away, Holt donors — through Gifts of Hope — gave Ayana goats as well as a cow and chickens. Immediately, she had fresh milk, eggs and meat to feed her children. The program also taught her how to garden, and in a small plot outside of town she started to grow carrots, cabbage, chard, collard greens, bananas and enset.

Now they not only have enough food, but they have more than they need! Each week, Ayana takes extra milk, eggs and vegetables to the market and sells them — building income for her family.

As part of the economic empowerment program, Ayana also learned how to manage this new income — how to budget and save money and make wise financial decisions that would help lift her family out of poverty someday.

In the meantime, Bemnet and his older siblings were matched with Holt sponsors who helped cover all their school fees. This meant Ayana could save even more money each month.

Financial Savings & Success

As she carefully managed her money, a few years later Ayana had saved enough for something she had only dreamed of: a new home large enough for her family. She even had money left over to purchase furniture, and invest more into her businesses as well.

Even though her husband was still affected by his illness, Ayana didn’t have to worry about not being able to feed their children or send them to school. She had multiple sources of income, and knew for the first time how to manage her money.

Her neighbors saw her success and wanted to know how they could do the same for their families. She began to teach other women in her community about financial management and how to start small businesses. Her neighbors elected her leader of the village.

Today, Ayana and her entire family are happy and stable. All of the children help out taking care of the livestock, and they love going to church together as a family. They are so thankful and proud of what they have achieved.

That’s why when we asked Bemnet to be in a photo with one of his goats, he snuggled up to it and gave us a huge smile.

Little girl holding a baby chick

Give a Gift of Hope

Give a lifesaving or life-changing tangible gift to a child or family in need. And this holiday season, give in honor of a loved one and they’ll receive a free card!

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