Students in Elizabeth Brown’s third- and fourth-grade class at Atmore Christian School have been learning about sentence structure, mathematical functions, fractions and other common facets of upper-elementary education.
They’ve also been learning a few things that aren’t in any standard textbook.
The students have over the past six months raised enough money to buy chickens, a goat and an ox for the residents of an African village.
Those animals are of major import to families engaged in subsistence farming. Those people often live in chronic poverty and malnutrition, lacking the skills to get the most out of their small patches of land. Others have seen their livelihoods wiped out by drought, disaster, or war.
The 15 members of Brown’s class came up with enough money to purchase the farm animals through an internationally recognized and respected charitable institution.
“Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity, gives out a catalog where you can raise money to buy animals to send to farmers and villages in Africa,” the third-year ACS teacher explained. “Over the last six months we have raised, I guess, about $550. We’ve used that money to purchase chickens, goats and now they wanted to buy an ox. We just managed to reach that goal just today (Friday, April 28)”
Thousands of impoverished farmers, herders, and fishermen have received from Samaritan’s Purse International Relief the resources and training they need to feed their families. The animals also allow many of them to earn a modest income that can be used for education, medical care, or other needs.
A dairy goat or cow can be a blessing for a family that suffers from malnutrition and poverty. The hardy creatures will eat just about anything and can supply a gallon of fresh milk a day, enough to provide a healthy drink and still have some left over for making cheese, yogurt, or butter. Surplus dairy products can be sold at market, providing a source of income to pay for essentials like medicine and schooling.
Farmers in developing countries often lack mechanized equipment for raising and gathering crops, so they rely on draft animals like oxen. Such animals can also pull carts to transport farm products to market in areas where paved roads are virtually non-existent.
Needy families receive a clutch of baby chickens that can eventually lay thousands of fresh eggs a year. Samaritan’s Purse provides the start-up food, materials to build a coop, vocational training and marketing skills to each participant.
Brown said her students raised “around $350” for the ox, bringing to $550 the total amount they generated for purchasing animals.
Asked if she was proud of her young charges, Brown was able to answer without giving the question any thought. She pointed out that the charitable enterprise reflected the basics of the school’s faith-based curriculum.
“Absolutely,” she immediately responded. “They are so generous. For children to think of others than themselves, to accept that and understand that, is great. That’s what we try to instill here.”