The Impact of a Sheep in Niger

October 7, 2016 • Niger
By providing sheep for impoverished Nigereans, you are giving them a way to make money through breeding and sales.
Breeding sheep provides money for impoverished Nigereans.

Villagers in the region of Tamou recount the effect livestock gifts from Samaritan's Purse have had on their lives

Aiasa and Yacouba, villagers living in Bawledgé, Niger, are no strangers to the Samaritan’s Purse livestock program. Though they are a young couple, Yacouba has twice been on the receiving end of a livestock gift. He has seen his household bolstered with the gift of sheep both as a child and, now, years later, as a married man trying to support a family.

His mother, also named Aiasa, remembers when they received the gift of livestock. Formerly she had sold soaps while her husband cultivated the fields. However, neither occupation could fully support and provide the means to educate the five children, including Yacouba.

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Breeding these two sheep will provide this Nigerean man an opportunity to support his family.

In an arid environment like Niger, people are never guaranteed a plentiful harvest, something Yacouba found out when he also grew up to become a farmer. Poor soil conditions and inadequate access to water for irrigation are constant barriers to progress.

As his mother recounted Yacouba’s difficult childhood, Yacouba translated her stories while also talking about how Samaritan’s Purse is helping him today. Profits made from selling sheep offspring go a long way to supplement income. The money from selling livestock gave Yacouba’s mother the ability to create a future with more opportunity just as Yacouba’s livestock revenue provides opportunities for his own kids.

His mother beamed at him and said “I wouldn’t have had the ability to send my kids to school without this gift.”

The education she provided Yacouba was evident even in his ability to translate from Zarma and Fulfulde to French for the Samaritan’s Purse staff members who visited his village. Education has provided Yacouba with skills he can be proud of, and this has been a bright light for a family that has known great pain.

Amid the difficulties that often accompany the people of the region, Yacouba has known further grief. Of his four children, one died in an accident. He himself was involved in a separate accident that took away his ability to walk unaided. But he was able to stand tall with crutches in hand and a smile on his face as he told his stories and translated the stories of his peers.

“Samaritan’s Purse was the first organization that came to us here, and they help us still,” he said. “They have done many things for us—given us livestock, trained us on their care, and taught us how to garden in our environment.

“Samaritan’s Purse is the first organization that came to us, and they help us still.”

“We thank Samaritan’s Purse for their friendship and courage. You did this,” he said as he looked toward flocks of sheep grazing nearby.

Solving Challenges of a Rural Community

Oumarou Ego Baba is a married father of five living in the village of Koira Margou. For years his household also relied on subsistence crop cultivation during the rainy season and any additional temporary labor he could find on the side. Yet with all these efforts, he couldn’t meet the basic needs of his household.

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The simple gift of an animal can give children the options of education and valuable skills.

The remuneration from his labor was insignificant and, while dutifully tended, the crop yields from his small garden were always meager as well. Thus, in 2013, Oumarou was selected as a Samaritan’s Purse project beneficiary. He was equipped with basic skills on improved sheep rearing in rural areas and given three adult ewes.

With careful care and maintenance, his flock has successfully multiplied since then, and he has sold more than 20 of the ewes’ offspring.

“For a long time, I admired livestock rearing but never had enough resources to buy even a single chicken,” Oumarou said. “Today I proudly call myself a farmer with the help I have received from Samaritan’s Purse. The sheep I received have greatly multiplied, and I can now afford to buy enough food for my household during the lean season.”

Oumarou also has been trained as a community animal worker in his village to provide animal health advisory services. The project equipped him with basic skills in animal disease diagnosis and treatment. Considering the previous absence of qualified veterinary service providers, these skills have provided additional opportunities for Oumarou and critical services for the village.

“Before I received support, I had no respect in the village,” Oumarou said. “Today, livestock keepers solicit my help whenever their animals fall sick. I now know how to treat them in this environment. I am very grateful to Samaritan’s Purse for giving me an opportunity to participate in solving some of the challenges facing my community.”