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The Goat that Keeps on Giving

Amelia making friends with the locals
By Amelia Crise

By Amelia Crise

Featured in the February issue of Goat Rancher (pages 27-30).

Featured in the February issue of Goat Rancher (pages 27-30).

Shortly after beginning our journey into the goating world in 2015, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to travel to India with my dad. We started our two-week stay in India by traversing as tourists. We experienced the hustle and bustle of the city touring through New Delhi by rickshaw, explored beautiful temples, took the most amazing two-hour train ride to Agra where we were able to view and experience the breathtaking architecture of the Taj Mahal (a once in a lifetime must-see). To top our expedition off, we made the pilgrimage to Mahatma Gandhi's final resting place, as many tourists do, to pay their respects to one of the most distinguished leaders this world has seen.

While these opportunities were all once in a lifetime, they weren’t even the best part of our trip. Through my dad’s company, SMART Technologies, in partnership with ME to WE, we participated in an amazing program where we stayed in one of the poorest states in India. Each member of the SMART team had the opportunity to bring a family member. The goal of our team was to help break down and rebuild sections of a school in a very poor area. Each morning we traveled to the school, where in teams of four and five, we tackled the day’s tasks. These tasks included, demolition - wearing hard hats and swinging sledge hammers to break down walls, hand-making bricks - mixing the solution, setting it in the mold, and letting it dry through the day, and then rebuilding walls with the very bricks we made! The fascinating part of all this, the rooms we worked on for a short time would one day be the technological epicenter for the school.

Each day we traveled to the school, we passed farm after farm, animal after animal. We saw everything from donkeys, pigs, chickens, their sacred cows, and of course, goats! Along every roadside we saw hundreds of goats working to trim back the hedges and bushes, to keep the roads clear. The goats were of particular interest to my dad and me, as we had just started to raise our own goats.

The task of managing goats in India is quite interesting; many ranchers and small families employ very different tactics in India, that many of us are not familiar with in the United States. There are likely many practices that both Americans and Indians can learn and adopt from each other. Watching these animals on the sides of the road was quite fascinating. No fences, no electric fence chargers, no ropes or chains, and often no people. How, then, do these animals not wander off, staying in their designated area for the time being? Often the strategy we saw utilized in India was hobbling.

Hobbling has a negative connotation, but interestingly enough, the goat is not harmed, only ‘hobbled’ for a short time. The practice of bending one of the goat’s front legs at the knee joint and tying it back. This inherently hobbles the goat for a short time, keeping them from wandering too far. On the farm, we see our goats eating in this manner often, bent over on their knees as they work their way top-down on plants. As the goats’ legs are tied back, they cannot travel long distances; they simply move a few feet at a time, as a group, working a particular ditch or embankment. At the end of the day, the rancher would return, untie the goats’ legs, and the goats and rancher would go on their merry way.

On one special day, we went into a tiny farming village. An elderly lady invited us into her home, where we sat around a homemade fire stove, making chapati bread, discussing whether our bread would qualify us for marriage. We carried water in pottery on top of our heads from the stream, just as the women of the village did several times a day. And it was here where we learned of the true importance, especially for women, the goat holds in many of these small villages.

Through ME to WE, women throughout small, poor communities all over the world are gifted a goat. The goat starts these women on a unique journey that thrusts them toward success and sustainability, for both their families and on an individual level. These goats may breed as many as three times during a two year period, giving the women an opportunity to sell offspring, making money and empowering them as a woman, in a country where women are often oppressed by many standards, or raising the goat to maturity, to nourish themselves and their families when it comes time to process the animal.

ME to WE focuses on five pillars of impact in hopes of creating generations of change. The pillars of impact changing lives and transforming families and communities around the world are education, water, health, food-security, and opportunity. The goats provided to these women play a role in four, if not all five, of these pillars. Through the partnership program, the women, in turn passing the information on to their families and community, are given a unique education on sustainable living, that all starts with a goat. The nourishment the goats’ milk and meat provides for the families helps to ensure optimum health, as well as, food security. The goat also creates incredible opportunities to generate an income and accrue savings. In some cases this savings is used to send a new generation to more formalized schooling, including university.

Despite India’s global economic power, the country continues to struggle with overpopulation, environmental degradation, ethnic and religious strife, and a vast population living below the poverty line. I truly believe the single greatest social return in the eradication of poverty is education. Tailored to the needs of India’s many communities, the goat provides financial means for many women and their families throughout the country. By giving these people the skills to make themselves independent, Me to We helps to empower entire communities.

You, yes, even you, can help to empower these women and their communities. Through ME to WE, you can make charitable donations throughout the year. Each year my dad and I commit at least $50 apiece, which amazingly, goes toward the purchase of a goat for a woman coming of age in a poor community. We have done this now for the past three years. It brings me great happiness and contentment to know I can help a young woman, just like myself, to one day thrive and prosper.

This is in no way a call to action, merely an opportunity to share a unique experience with like-minded goat people. Every donation, no matter the size, has the chance to change so many lives. Providing a woman with the resources needed to generate a sustainable income, allowing her to provide for her family, leading to a lifetime of change, for her, the community, and the world is truly the goat that keeps on giving.

If you’ve been inspired to make your own impact, visit: For more information, please feel free to reach out to us.

(Josh and Kathy Crise, and their grown children, Amelia and Kevin, operate Marble Creek Acres in Lee, Maine. For interest in a future year’s Kiko waitlist, questions or if you have topics you might like to read about in a future Goat Rancher, we can be reached at 207-619-3758, email [email protected] or