This year for your birthday you are asking for goats. Please explain.
My friends and I at Give a Goat have started a new way of enabling people to get involved with our work. It’s called “Go”, and it lets anyone create a project around an event, goal, or idea and raise support to buy goats for needy families. It’s launch fell right around my birthday, so I decided to lend my special day to its inauguration. Basically what I’m asking people to do is to give $24 for my 24 birthday instead of giving me a present. This money will go to buy goats for needy families. I’m hoping to raise $2,400 which will give about 20 goats and start an entire village on the path to self-sufficiency.
How does a guy living in Oklahoma become connected to work happening in the Philippines?
Man our world has shrunk. I actually went to college with a native Filipino whose family had been working to help the poor from their native country get out of poverty. We spent a ton of time together dreaming, praying, brainstorming. He kept talking about how his Dad was giving goats to people in the Philippines and it was lifting them out of poverty. It wasn’t long before I was on board with him and we formed the non-profit Give a Goat around an organic idea born in the Philippines.
Do you have a favorite success story?
There are so many to choose from and I heard about four more just today. But my favorite would have to be about my friend Ronald. Ronald worked at a roadside stand selling food in the metropolitan area of Cebu. His family lived about three hours away from his work so he only came home once a month to visit his wife and child, as well as drop off the $1 a day he was making. One night after midnight he was working his stand, and there was a shooting. The man who was shot came and crouched behind Ronald’s booth for safety. This was a giant wake up call to Ronald. He came home and decided he was going to find a better way to provide for his family. Around that time, Give a Goat was looking for new raisers in his area and he decided he wanted to try his hand at goat raising. That was three years ago. Today Ronald has 80 goats, a thriving vegetable garden, a water filtration system, and happy children who are attending school. He has been so successful that he is now passing his knowledge and goats to his neighbors, telling them how to get out of poverty and start a new life. Ronald also moonlights as Give a Goat’s key veterinarian.
In addition to your work with Give a Goat you are also a poet. What role do you feel artists play in bringing about change?
Artists don’t just play a role in bringing about change, they are the most vital conduit for change. Artists teach us to dream in color, reimagine our world, and ask questions with new words. As French author Albert Camus put it, “In a world such as this, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” Artists, poets, musicians, and the like stand on the opposite side of corruption, oppression, and greed. It is hard to imagine myself among these ranks, but I’m trying my best. As a artist, in particular as a poet, I try to reclaim truth by showing it in a foreign light. We get so used to our paradigms and routines that even words like war, famine, and murder loose their bite. I try to grab overlooked ideas, peoples, and causes and pull them into new light where people can see their truth. And any time I can be a voice for the voiceless and give noise to previously deaf ears, I consider it an honor.
What advice would you give to anyone reading this who might be a ‘recovering slacktivist’? What steps can they take to actively pursue creating real change and not just being a consumer?
They can do just that. Stop being a consumer and go create real change. Look at your life. What are you good at, passionate about, connected to? What makes you cry, yell, or giggle? Those are the things you were created to meld yourself to. Find that cause or that mission. And once you know what you want to do, even if it is just a small inkling of a feeling, start engaging in conversations. That is how change takes place. Over cups of coffee and plates of food. Talk to your friends and family about what you are wanting to do, find people who are already working in those fields and render your services, find people effected by the problem and hear their stories and find out how they want and need to be helped. What we often misunderstand is that we don’t need an organization, non-profit, or mission trip to change our world. There are people, living, struggling, dying people across our streets and around our world. I spoke with a struggling family that I met here in the Philippines on Facebook today. They can’t feed their children, but a family in their village has internet and we are plotting a change for her community. Talk to people. Dream. And then go do it!
In addition to getting you goats for your birthday, how else can we get involved with Give a Goat?
I would encourage everyone, if giving goats to needy families sounds even a bit interesting, to go to www.go.giveagoatnow.com and start a project that can change a person’s life.
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