With a greeting like that I suppose you can guess I'm not from the States. I'm an Aussie by the name of Bryr. I have an agricultural science degree, and a background in goat farming, ranging from hobby farms with just a handful of goats, right through to large scale commercial farming in the thousands of goats.
Three years ago, I typed these 3 words in to Google: God, goats and mission. That is how I found the FFHC website. To cut a long story short, I wrote an email that said 'I love God, I love goats, and I love people, you got any work going?'. From there developed a wonderful friendship with FFHC founder, Kerrie Holschbach. Since, however, my father's health had taken a decline, I decided to care for him first, before I did anything further with FFHC and that pretty much took up the next two years.
November last year a team of people from the US, with various specialisations, was going out to Tanzania, and I flew out from Australia to join them. The plan WAS to go out for a month, observe the program, offer advice where I could, and see first hand if this was something I actually wanted to be involved in more full time...what is it some famous poet said? 'The best laid plans of mice and men so often gang astray!' (call me a well read goat farmer).
The program vet was home on furlough in the States and two days after I arrived, the acting vet broke his leg in three places in a motorbike accident...so since I can do most things needed bar surgery, guess who ended up being the acting vet for the next three months?! And what an adventure it was!!
Various parts of my childhood were spent in rural areas of Australia, so some things didn't really shock me as they may have other people. Dust everywhere, long drop toilets, water shortages, limited resources...nothing I hadn't dealt with before, but African disease, foreign language, foreign culture, they all added spice to my journey.
The three things that stood out most to me while I was there were the Tanzanian's creativity, resilience and gratitude. The designs of goat sheds were many and varied, and some were being added on to and improved as resources allowed. One of my favourite bits of ingenuity was using the rubber sole of a no longer useful shoe as a hinge on a gate. Attach one part to the gate and one part to the fence and voila, swinging gate!
Something that made me chuckle was a rather cranky billy goat named 'Anton'. He was brought out of his shed for me to observe, and despite his rather non-desirable nature, when the owner addressed Anton by name and told him to go back to his shed, he quite happily wandered over to do her bidding. It was obvious there was a relationship between owner and goat.
Another family had an animal that unfortunately I couldn't save. I felt awful, they had only lost their daughter that week and now I had to look them in the eye and say 'Pole sana', I am so sorry, I can't save your goat. The mother of house took me by the hand and looked me back in the eye and said 'Asante sane'. Thank you very much. Despite their losses, they still had it in them to express their deep gratitude for the fact that I had tried – it took everything in me not to cry.
Technically speaking, I was in charge of animal health for the project. This was very challenging with not speaking the language beyond any rudimentary 'pleases, thank yous, and can I use the toilet?'. Yet on the other hand, there are times where language is no barrier at all. The team had been split, I was dealing with some animal health issues, others were doing family visits and we were to meet at a central location once done. My crew arrived first and as I was waiting around (waiting is quite common in Tanzania), I started singing an old hymn 'How great thou art'. Next thing I knew, a group of 7 or 8 local women walked in to the church building were I was and started singing the same hymn in Swahili. We then spent about the next 45 minutes singing hymns we all knew by tune, them in Swahili and myself in English. It's moments like that that you realise, the only difference between you and 'them' are the countries in which you were born. Watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkp_c-9lt_g&feature=youtu.be
So the big question is: 'Is FFHC something I want to be involved in long term?? My answer, absolutely YES. I am no different to any other human on this planet, I've just been born somewhere were I had privilege to learn skills that others have not. There's another famous quote and I honestly can't remember who said it, but it basically goes 'Evil prevails when good men do nothing'. To have the ability to make a difference and choose not to, to me, is a crime.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not a guilt trip kind of person, I'm just explaining my heart. I'm one of those crazy people who would go to Africa coz that's the way God has made me to operate. I genuinely believe everyone has gifts and abilities, and you can make a difference wherever you are with the people God has put in front of you. For FFHC, without the 'ordinary' people who lead 'ordinary' lives, none of what they do would be possible (for the record though, we certainly don't think you're ordinary!). I can tell you for a fact that I have seen it first hand and I KNOW that you make a difference and there are literally hundred's of people within the FFHC program that are so so grateful.
So I just wanted to say a great, big 'RIGHT ON TEAM!' Thank you for what you have done, and thank you for continuing to support Food for His Children families, we continue to be incredibly grateful, God bless you!
Food for His Children is excited for Bryr to return to Tanzania full time to help set up and run the breeding farm and help with the goat farmers. If you'd like to donate specific funds to support Bryr's work with us, please make a donation on our website with a note that you want to designate the funds for Bryr's work or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also mail a check to Food for His Children, PO Box 722, Forest Lake, MN 55025 with a note about your wishes for the funds.