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Friday, 28 November 2008
Swimming upstream with Emily from Senegal


At this time of year there are the inevitable requests for us to buy goats as presents for poor peasants in the third world (possibly on behalf of our friends and family). I have been a bit suspicious of this idea as I am aware of how environmentally destructive goats can be. (They will eat the roots as well as the leaves of plants). Of course you are never guaranteed that you are actually buying a goat. If you read the small print you find that they may buy another appropriate animal with your donation.

How refreshing then, while I was in Paris this morning, to find a different type of charity. I paid them thirty euros to do quite the opposite: to liberate a goat from mistreatment at the hands of some poor peasants in the developing world. Of course seeing that the peasants were not feeding the goat properly, and yet did not have the need to eat the goat themselves, one cannot feel sympathy for the peasants who were thus liberated of said goat.

I took a photo of my goat (above), a dwarf goat called Emily who was liberated from some poor peasants in Senegal. Of course my donation might not have liberated this particular goat. It could have been used for another goat, or another type of animal, or to pay the salaries of the people who are raising money on behalf of goat liberation. When we give money to any good cause we know that’s part of the deal.

I realise that some people might see my donation as a self-indulgent action of an animal lover. You shouldn’t - I did it on behalf of my friends and family. When each of my sister’s daughters were born, her husband murdered a goat. He wasn’t unhappy with the goats - this is the standard way you celebrate birth in some parts of the world. My daughters and I discovered this some years later when we found the goat skins on the floor of my sister’s bedroom. It was a case of unfortunate timing: we had just finished reading Heidi as a bedtime story. And for those of my family and friends who never actually ate either of my niece’s goats I leave you with the thought that perhaps you ate another goat, or another type of animal even. I have donated the money for you. Season’s greetings!

Posted by bigblue on 28/11/2008 at 09:42 PM
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