More than just the bacon
My young daughters were chuffed to bits when their godmother bought three little pigs from Christian Aid’s online giftshop, “Present Aid”.
When my wife explained to Nelly that the pigs were going to live in Nicaragua, she chirped back, “Mami, can we go and visit them there?” We hesitated. Hmm… good idea but better we go and look at a photo on the charity’s website! Naturally, Nelly wanted to know how the pigs’ new owners were treating them!
Of course, while we didn’t expect to be able to look at ‘our’ pigs, perhaps we could look at a photo and receive updates of the pigs progress?
The Present Aid website FAQ says:
At the time of purchase we cannot be certain as to what project your contribution will benefit. This means that we are unable to provide updates or photographs. For a more general update on how Christian Aid is spending your donation please visit www.christianaid.org.uk.
After Google’ing “La Labranza” I discovered that Christian Aid has been working in the mountain community for fifteen years alongside its partner organisation, the Community Movement of Matagalpa (MCM).
The Independent on Sunday (IoS) partnered with Christian Aid for its Christmas appeal. An article written by Katy Guest and headed “The healing power of happy pigs” tells the story of La Labranza through the lens of its inhabitants, including (very appropriately) a woman named Nelly…
Nelly lives in the northern region of Matagalpa, where the crops scent the air with spearmint and coffee, and children fill in holes in the roads in the hope of a lobbed coin from a passing driver. Her house is a mud construction with a tin roof – from a distance, it looks as if it has been thrown at the side of the hillside by a giant hand, and stuck. Its position is dizzyingly beautiful, but dangerous.
Now the gift card my daughters received includes some copy about how farmers in La Labranza “like Juan Rayos Sequira… looked forward to receiving a pig” from MCM, which he can use “to start a litter of piglets”. For every 12 piglets born, he passes on two to another family. Those left over provide him with both food and an income.
Katy writes more compellingly in the IoS…
In this area, 70 families have been given pigs with donations from MCM. They cheerfully forage around the hillsides, eating banana peel, spoiled vegetables and windfall chayote fruits. A community organiser, Ciriaco Ortiz, explains: “When little pigs are born, people give one back to the fund and one to their neighbour. Now there are 410 pigs.
I find all this interesting, as I read an article published in Professional Fundraising last month which identified that how “ethical gift funds” are spent varies from charity to charity.
Stances range from those such as the Good Gifts Catalogue which ensures the money is passed to the beneficiary in full and used solely for the purpose stated, to ensuring the money goes to the community the gift was intended to help, to merely contributing to the charityâ€™s general fund.
I’m sure there’s some potential here, through visual storytelling, for my daughters to become more fully engaged with ‘the pig story’.
But it’s clear from FAQ number 29 on the Christian Aid website, that if you buy three pigs, the money goes directly to Christian Aid’s agriculture & livestock fund. Today… many days later, another glance at the gift card reveals that the money (that’s our daughters’ godmother’s money) will indeed “go into an agriculture and livestock fund to help… bring similar schemes to poor communities in the developing world”.
OK, so it’s there in the small print, but try explaining that to your five-year old daughter.
This little piggy went to market; this little piggy was in fact a can of worms.
No. I think not. Instead, I’ll tell Nelly (my daughter) about her namesake in La Labranza…
Nelly is fattening up her obliviously happy pig. The children chatter about planting trees as they cross the river on the way to school.
Ah, a happy ending.