Lonely Goat




Dear Ezra and Lian,

The whole time I was watching this video last year, I kept thinking about how good goat tastes. Sorry, I couldn’t help it. Then I started thinking about the sacrifices that people have made so that I could eat it.

One such time in Guinea (It’s located in West Africa.), a nineteen year old Basari man gave me and my friends his goat to eat. Now this goat was about half way to fulfilling his betrothed wife’s dowry. Without that goat, he wasn’t going get more goat kids and the 4 bolts of cloth that he needed. He had nothing then. He gave his goat freely to honour us. It also meant his whole future was in doubt (it’s a long story). Before we left, we made sure that he had enough money for his entire dowry. He was a good man, in a difficult circumstance with a lot of faith. He deserved the help.

We were all sitting on the floor of “our hut”. We were in a circle eating from one big bowl with our hands. First time in days it wasn’t chicken. Toeytain’s goat, rice, peanuts and chilies; it was delicious as long as I stayed away from the chilies. The Basari don’t let any part of the goat go to waste. If it’s edible, it’s in that pot. So in one of my mouthfuls of food, there was a 2 inch piece of intestine. It got stuck in the back of my throat. It is sort of like having a hard rubber hose there. I couldn’t cough it up and I couldn’t swallow it. I tried and tried. Finally, I had to relax my muscles and let it slide down into my stomach. I think I felt it go slowly down the whole way.

Some things are hard to swallow and I just need to learn to relax. Hey, I get how touching and entertaining this video is. I am not sitting in judgment. Just observing that I live in a bizarro-world. However, how could I ever explain this to Toeytain; driving a trailer for 14 hours to haul a donkey so that a goat could have his long, lost friend back? It took about that long to get from Dakar, Senegal to Toeytain’s village in Guinea, but there were 17 border checkpoints to go through. Lots of time spent charming bureaucrats, guards and wardens so that supplies for the Basari made it through + the worst roads/long ruts I have ever seen in my life. Trust me, we “wasted” far more money hauling a bunch of over-fed guys from Canada to Guinea then moving a single burro. All the same, we have become so jaded in our society now. We have all seen the pictures of little kids who haven’t eaten for days. We quickly flip to another channel. A lonely goat can move us. A starving child not so much.

I am always torn between hiding information about children from around the world and telling you everything I have ever seen a child suffer. On July 16th, Ezra, you were moaning about how bad your life is. You were genuinely surprised that other kids have it far worse than you. I have seen kids have it so bad, that later it will drop me to my knees and weep in remembrance.

It is natural growing up in Canada that you will lose all sense of perspective. Since you see so little genuine suffering, you don’t realize how good you have it or how bad other kids actually live. I know I have to be careful not to make you too sad Ezra, but you need to know the truth. You need to learn just how privileged you are to grow up in Canada and to be able to freely travel to the US on a really nice vacation like we just had. Literally, goats, dogs and cats have a more comfortable life here, then millions of children around the world.

Toeytain’s whole future rested on the life and health of a single goat, living during a time of drought. You kids here, have a whole “village” of people who love, care and provide for you. Every day you get to learn and be entertained and be well fed. Hundreds of millions of kids rarely get any of that. Every day they are working to just stay alive and maybe healthy. Please, please, please be grateful for what you have.