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The gift of a goat sustains child's education

In a village where many families must choose between food and education, a goat purchased from World Vision's Gift Catalog brings hope that Paritosh's family will be able to support his education for years to come.

April 2008



Paritosh, who seems to have a gift for communicating with animals, holds his family's new goat while his sister pets the kid.
Paritosh, who seems to have a gift for communicating with animals, holds his family's new goat while his sister pets the kid.
Photo ©2008 Kit Shangpliang/World Vision
Somewhere in the United Kingdom, 15 World Vision donors purchased goats through the Gift Catalog, not knowing who would receive the livestock, or how one of them could be the key to an education for a family in need.

Soon afterward, a World Vision-run children's club in Sohail, India, received 15 young goats to distribute among the village's most financially destitute families.

When Paritosh, 10, became a member of the children's club, he didn't realize how important it would become to his family or his education.

A struggle for the basics

Paritosh lives with his parents and younger sister in a run-down hut with broken fences and crumbling mud walls in this remote area of India's West Bengal state, near the border with Bangladesh. The family's meager wages barely sustain their daily basic needs, so fixing their hut isn't a top priority. And they aren't the only ones struggling.

As the entire village economy has taken a dip in the past four years, families like Paritosh's have turned into debtors — owing more than they can earn in a year. With Sohail's economy suffering, many of the men have left their village in search of jobs in the city, leaving their children and wives at home.

A tough decision: School or food

Out of 180 families in Sohail, only six individuals have completed high school. In this village, and many villages around the country, day-to-day survival was the priority, not education. According to UNICEF, India has an adult literacy rate of just 61 percent. But times are changing.

Since World Vision began working here, villagers have come to understand the importance of educating their children. This trend is catching on around the country, as India's youth are improving upon previous generations with an average literacy rate of 76 percent. In an increasingly global economy, education is seen as a ticket to opportunity and financial prosperity. More and more children in India are going to primary school and even attending high school.

"The need for food and children's education are our must-haves," Paritosh's father says. He sees the value of an education and wants his children to stay in school, but this priority often comes at a price. Paritosh's parents sometimes sacrifice their dinner in order to pay the children's school fees.

A gift that keeps on giving

Paritosh and his sister play with the young goat they received through World Vision's Gift Catalog that will help Paritosh's family fund his education.
Paritosh (left) and his sister play with the young goat they received through World Vision's Gift Catalog that will help Paritosh's family fund his education.
Photo ©2008 Kit Shangpliang/World Vision

When the children's club and program manager decided which of the 15 children should take home one of the young goats, Paritosh was delighted to find out he would be one of them. Goats can provide valuable economic and nutritional support for families, who can sell the surplus offspring, milk, and cheese.

But the gift wasn't just for Paritosh's family. When they received their female goat, it came with a caveat: They should give away the first female offspring from their goat to another family in need who hadn't received one of the original 15 goats.

'A noble idea'


The grateful family is prepared to use their gift to give back. "It is a noble idea, a great help to other families in the village," says Bango Rai, Paritosh's mother. She is more than happy to share with another family what she has been given.

In the coming years, Paritosh plans to go to high school, and the financial demands on the family will increase. "The family will continue to struggle," says Bango Rai, "but the selling of goats will help us support our children's education."

Meanwhile, Paritosh and his little sister play with the new young goat entrusted to their care, petting her and carrying her around whenever possible. Paritosh especially enjoys having the goat. He seems at ease with animals and tries to communicate with the goat that will allow his education to continue. "I don't have a name for the kid, but it understands me," he says.

Learn more


>> Read about a group of youngsters who used their water-treading skills to raise money for water pumps and other items from World Vision's Gift Catalog.

Two ways you can help

>> Praise the Lord for generous donors who purchase gifts for people they've never met through World Vision's Gift Catalog. Thank God that Paritosh's family has a source of financial support to help him reach his full potential.
>> Use World Vision's Gift Catalog to purchase a goat or other item for a family in need. You can make a difference for a child like Paritosh.

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