Revolving sheep success
Tasmania’s only homegrown international charity has succeeded with an experimental project to help poverty-stricken nomads in Tibet.
The Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health & Insight (BODHI) launched the Revolving Sheep Bank, a 5-year micro-credit project, in 2000 with the purchase of ewes and nanny goats from wealthier nomads to lend to poor nomad households in the community.
The participants have since repaid the loans in full.
‘The sheep bank trial has been a fantastic success,’ says Campbell Town-based Susan Woldenberg Butler, BODHI’s President.
The influence of BODHI’s Revolving Sheep Bank has been far-reaching. It has been the prototype of other yak and livestock projects in Tibet.
A grant for almost $6000 has enabled BODHI to begin Phase 2 by expanding into an adjacent nomad area. They are still looking for funding for years 2-5.
According to Susan, BODHI focuses on sustainable projects in the areas of health, education, the environment and micro-credit. Other new projects include educating and training a deaf girl in Nepal to teach other deaf students; support of education and mobile health clinics in a tribal orphanage in Bangladesh; working to improve the health of former Untouchables in central India; assisting Chakma schoolchildren against difficult odds in NE India; and working to facilitate accessible health care for rural Tibetans in Tibet.
‘We stress the sustainable aspect of our work, giving a hook not a fish,’ Susan says. ‘All work is voluntary, so over 90% of donations go to projects.
‘It’s our way of giving something back and providing a place for volunteers who want to do something to help people in developing countries but wish to work outside the traditional framework of large organisations. BODHI is small and personal.’