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Reform Magazine | June 1, 2020

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The goats of peace

The goats of peace

How an innovative livestock trading scheme brought peace to a Kenyan village

A swirling sea of colour. Arms covered with Rendille beads and waists hanging with Borana gourds dance around each other, with voices raised in harmony in different languages: ‘God, bless your children with peace.’

This is a peace meeting, bringing together two tribes who have been trapped in conflict for decades. The village of Leyai, in northern Kenya, was once home to both Borana and Rendille people, living as neighbours and cultivating the ground side by side. However, escalating disputes and increasingly violent cattle raids that claimed more than 250 lives, caused such division that eventually, almost all the villagers left and segregated themselves into separate tribal enclaves. Houses crumbled into disrepair. Crops were overrun with weeds.

Memories of stability, friendship and life in harmony were distant when the peace project began. A generation of Borana and Rendille grew up knowing only hatred and bloodshed. ‘During that time when there was no peace, people could not go to get firewood or take the livestock to water,’ explains Sube, a Borana widow. ‘It was not safe.’

Over the years, various attempts had been made to re-establish peace, but with little success. The development agency Sauti Moja came up with an innovative new approach. Sauti Moja, which means ‘one voice’ in Swahili, has a strong focus on vulnerable and marginalised women, and runs community livestock banks where women in poverty are given a ‘loan’ of a donkey and four goats…

For 75 years, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been flying medical relief and life-transforming help to the world’s most isolated people. To receive a free copy of MAF’s new prayer journal, ‘Rooted’, call 01303 850 950 or visit www.maf-uk.org/rooted-reform. Offer subject to availabilty

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the May 2020 edition of Reform

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