Celebrating Goats for Widows - Gifts that Keep on Giving

Morning meeting is packed with ASRI staff and the delegation from Dining for Women who arrive this morning bearing gifts of medical supplies, medical library books, hundreds of eyeglasses, medicines and medical supplies adding to the already delivered ski bag of aluminum crutches and ambulatory boots. Name your most wonderful holiday tradition, and multiply it by 10 and you have a sense of the joy in clinic that morning. Morning meeting is also packed with final preparations for Green Day tomorrow (April 25) at the Lamong Satong nursery, about 90 minutes from Sukadana. More to follow! The excitement of all is palpable as the 12 women that are here are here because of a very generous $33,000 grant from Dining for Women in support of the Goats for Widows program.

Ibu Raina, her family, friends and Hotlin with Goat

Ibu Raina, her family, friends and Hotlin with Goat

By 10 a.m., we are on our way to meet Ibu Setiawati who is now manager of the Goats for Widows program and has coordinated with Pak Miftah and countless community members to organize the goats that will be given away today. The only promises a widow must make is that she will build a raised goat pen and bring a sturdy rope on the given day.

Arriving the low cinder block/cement building, the yard is already astir with the activity of then men that have been handling the goats which are each neatly tied in a plastic burlap bag to ensure they remain quiet and less agitated. I wonder at some of the looks on the women's faces but they quickly register their understanding and we file into the cooler darkened room for the formal presentations. One senses that this is a momentous event with nearly 50 people sardined into a room with one fan but more hope that all the motes in the world. Shortly, everyone is ushered back into the yard for an odd but inspiring choreography of releasing the goats into the selected widows care. Each has blindly chosen a number and will receive the goat of the same number; and, each of the 12 women from the Dining for Women delegation are paired off with one of the widows, many having sat next to each other before venturing into the yard for the moment of ownership. Many are holding hands, brown wrinkled hides in soft white paws, speak of a love beyond words: women holding out and holding the hands of other women that they may benefit. To enjoy the pictures that tell the true story of the day, go to www.diningforwomen.org, where I believe you'll find their growing album from the trip. As we climb back on the bus to return to ASRI, there is a sense of grace amongst the twelve.

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About Michelle Bussard | View all posts by Michelle Bussard

Michelle is the Executive Director at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR.