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Tigard Girl Scouts make difference one goat at a time

Fifteen goats will make a world of difference for one cooperative in Rwanda
by: Submitted photo, ONE ITAFARI AT A TIME — Pictured is the first group of child-headed households in Rwanda to receive their goats. This cooperative calls themselves the Power of Love. The adults in the picture are the supporters of the program.

TIGARD - Victoria Trabosh showed the pictures, shared the statistics and answered the questions. But the one thing that the girls of Tigard Girl Scout Troop 105 remembered the most was being told to imagine that at the age of 12 they would have to take care of everyone.

In Rwanda there are 65,000 child-headed households. And there are hundreds of thousands of children who live on their own.

For adults the number can be too big to imagine. Everyday Trabosh relays the hard facts about Rwanda, and the response is usually the same: the problem is too big. How could we possibly help?

But from the smallest voices she finds the biggest source of hope. Children, Trabosh said, don't worry about the entire 65,000 households. They think of one household.

'They think of how they can help just one child,' Trabosh said. 'And a goat can go a long way.'

Last month, the Tigard Girl Scout donated enough money to the Itafari Foundation to buy 15 goats for a cooperative - a Rwandan child-headed household.

Beginning first as pen pals through the Itafari Foundation, the troop decided to take on more as the girls learned about the children in Rwanda.

'It's an amazing example of what can be accomplished, but I could never put a value on what these girls have done,' Trabosh said.

Trabosh is the co-founder and president of the Itafari Foundation - Itafari means 'brick' in Kinyarwanda. The nonprofit foundation's motto is 'growing a country, one brick at a time.' And since August 2005, Trabosh has been working to raise funds for causes in Rwanda. The foundation's Web site, www.itafari.org, lists programs for buying bricks and goats and funding micro loans and the construction of new schools.

In June 2005, Trabosh went to Rwanda for a World Vision project. She returned that summer with a whole new goal in life.

As an executive coach and speaker, Trabosh said the real goal of the foundation is to encourage everyone to dream big, whether they live in the United States or Rwanda.

The Tigard Girl Scouts Troop raised just half of its donation through cookie sales. The other half came in as donations from people who heard about the girls' cause and determination.

The goat program provides 15 nanny goats for a single cooperative. The goats, which cost $25 a piece, enable Rwandan children to learn to work together in raising the goats and essentially run a business selling fertilizer, growing grass and breeding more goats for additional cooperatives.

'Within a short time, it's sustaining itself and then it starts to support more cooperatives,' Trabosh said. 'One brick at a time. One goat at a time. And one child at a time.'