December 24, 2004

Goat Is a Popular Gift With Britons

LONDON (AP) -- It's hairy and smells and will butt you, given half a chance. But the humble goat is one of Britain's most popular Christmas presents, with several charities offering the chance to do something for others by buying one of the animals for an impoverished family in the developing world.

The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, or Cafod, said Thursday that in the past five weeks donors paid for 13,000 of the creatures at 25 pounds (US$47, euro37) each; the beasts will go to poor families in Eritrea, Kenya and southern Sudan in Africa.

"I think people like to know where their money is going and that what they are buying will be put to good use," said spokeswoman Martha Clarke.

A hardy creature which is not fussy about what it eats, the goat provides nutritious milk, useful manure and edible offspring.

Clarke said Cafod has also sold 4,000 latrines at 15 pounds (US$27, euro22) for developing countries.

In all, Cafod has raised nearly 800,000 pounds (US$1.4 million, euro1.2 million) from its range of Christmas gifts, which also includes seeds and saplings at 10 pounds (US$18, euro15).

Oxfam said it has sold some 30,000 goats, at the same price charged by Cafod; its beasts will go to poor families in 70 countries.

"Ethical buying seems to be very popular this year," said a spokeswoman.

A third charity, Christian Aid, is also promoting goats with its "Goat For It" campaign.

"Traditionally, the British public has been less willing to fund overseas development charities, but the "goats for Africa" scheme has succeeded by tapping into the traditional national love of animals," opined "The Guardian" newspaper Thursday.

"Less of the Christmas 'bah, humbug,' more of the 'baa'," the newspaper wrote.


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