Bonnie V'Soske

February 2011

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After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan after ten years of vicious fighting which took the lives of a million Afghans, several factions of the Mujahedeen fought for control of Kabul.

Two of the most stunning buildings were the Darulaman Palace and the National Museum in the southern part of the city. Often that section of the city was on the front lines of the fighting, and each time control changed hands, more and more of the ancient treasures of the country were looted. Eventually rockets slammed into the roof of the museum, and tons of debris buried much of what was left.

I was anxious to visit the portions of the museum that were restored by the international community, and when I went, I was one of only a handful of visitors.
Some of the original staff had gone back to work and proudly showed us a tiny fraction of what had once been housed there.

As we were driving around the area we saw some refugees living in the partially exposed basement of a bombed out building. I asked our driver to take us over, and we parked and walked over the see a woman and her children. They were recent returnees from Peshawar, Pakistan, and had nothing but a few blankets and the clothes they had on their backs. The father had been severely injured, and could not find work.
After our visit we started thinking about what we could do for the family to help them get back on their feet. Our only criterion was that it should be something that would be sustainable.

We saw two options. We considered buying lumber and having a small stand built so he could sell fruits and vegetables. The second option was to purchase a small flock of goats. Goats have been raised for thousands of years for their milk, meat, and hair. Goat milk can be made into cheese and yogurt which would provide good nutrition for the children. We decided on the goats.

Because of the bombing there were wide swaths of empty land which would be perfect for grazing. In the coming weeks, we purchased ten goats, rented a truck, and took them to the family.

The mother was an excellent organizer, and assigned each of the goats to family members who would be responsible for taking care and keeping track of the goats. A few months later, we asked a friend to check on the family, and they were happily caring for their animals.

We were overjoyed when the family was able to relocate to more permanent housing because of their stewardship of a flock of goats.

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