The first ever Harvest Festival was held recently at the rural church in Aheri, Diocese of Nagpur, in North India. The gifts that the congregation brought included onions, cabbages, cauliflowers, beans and tomatoes. Many had brought rice, in varying quantities from one farmer's large sack to children's small newspaper bags.
USPG assistant appeal co-ordinator Viki Helstrip attended the service while see was visiting boarding hostels in the diocese. She was delighted to see that someone had contributed a baby goat to the harvest offering.
"At the conclusion of the service the rural dean explained that he would auction the goods that had been brought," said Viki. "I so wanted to buy the baby goat, but sensibly decided to bid for a selection of vegetables, which I later donated to the children's hostels!"
The goat was bought by the Nagpur Diocese development officer, Kutchi Thangavel, who suggested that it should be named after their guest from the UK. And so 'Viki' was donated to the diocesan 'Goat Project' and continues to flourish.
The Nagpur Diocesan Development Association, which Kutchi Thangavel co-ordinates, established a goatery with the help of the USPG Harvest 1997 appeal which raised £62,000 to provide goats for rural people in India. The goats, including 'Viki', help women to generate incomes for their families. The women are paid to look after the goats, and they milk them and breed them. Some kids are given back to the project, but the women are allowed to keep some animals as their own. In this way they are able to become self-sufficient, and can generate an income that allows them to do more than merely survive.
The Church of North India has been working to provide grassroots solutions to the challenges of conserving rural life. Families are able to regain their self-respect, and have the opportunity of developing successful businesses that don't cause damage to the local environment.
More information on USPG projects in North India is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.