One morning I woke up and thought I am turning 60! That was about a year and a half ago and I thought, "well, I am an 'old goat'" and since I can't turn back the speedometer it made sense that this "old goat" should try and give some real goats to people who have nothing and eat every other day.
These goats help returning slaves to South Sudan (from Sudan in the north) get a start in their new home in the South. One day, I was introduced to a young man named Keer, who had been abused by his Arab slave master and purposely blinded by him. The slave retriever, a kind Arab man, brought him to the South after a walk of almost two weeks.
My brother and I brought Keer here to the United States for eye surgery from South Sudan. Keer and his mother were taken as war booty when he was a baby from South Sudan and had lives of servitude as slaves. This year, I took Keer to the White House Christmas party, where he met the president and first lady.
In two and a half years, Keer went from being an abused and blinded slave two and half years ago to meeting the leader of the free world. I have never been so happy! It was an amazing moment for both of us.
I am also now a proud Mama. Keer came to the United States for medical treatment. He was essentially illiterate and did not know more than twenty words of English.
Now, as student at Perkins School for the Blind, he can see some shapes and colors and he recently received an A on a 8th/9th grade physics test.
Yes, Keer basically learned to read and write in Braille so quickly that he skipped elementary school. He wants to go to law school and return to South Sudan to serve others. Knowing Keer, he will achieve his goal and help his country!
I am proud, but perhaps Keer is not so unusual. The group I work with, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) has been bringing back and repatriating slaves in South Sudan for eighteen years.
No, they are not recaptured after their ordeal. They have been able to go back to their home villages, taken in by the village elders. Many of the newly freed children are malnourished and by giving them a she-goat they are able to get the nutrition they need and potentially become like Keer with the brain power they need to learn and help their new country. How many Keers may be out there, young children and teens bright enough to be the future for South Sudan?
John Eibner from CSI-USA saw that there were many Keers out there so in addition to giving goats and repatriating former slaves also began a program for so many of these parentless newly freed children who need our attention.
The Sidney Simon-Mustard Seed Program Program for Children helps the other Keers to learn, and yes, to even immediately start giving back by raising goats to give to other former slaves coming back from the North.
I know that by providing a goat and the pure nutrition that goat milk provides we are helping to make other children and teens future leaders of this brand new country, South Sudan. Just a little bit of help and good nutrition goes a long way!!
Editor's note: If you would like to contribute to Ms. Ratner's organization visit: www.goatsfortheoldgoat.com.