Wedding Registries, Charities, and Goats

People often have mixed feelings about wedding registries. On the one hand, no one wants to risk buying you a gift you hate or already own, and a registry saves your guests hassle on that account. But it’s a bit awkward asking for gifts. And I clearly remember being overwhelmed by all the choices, as I stood there with the registry gun at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, trying to figure out what to include on my list.  Sheets. Towels. Flatware. Useful but incredibly boring. My mother ended up doing a lot of nudging. She is, in fact, the one who brought me to BB&B to register in the first place. I didn’t know, at the time, that I could register at Target! Or any of the other cooler, less traditional registry things people do.

But there are lots and lots of other options out there. Like goats. Did you ever think of registering for goats? Unless you plan on moving to a farm or really want to make your own goat cheese, chances are you haven’t thought about it. But one amazing couple, as reported by A Practical Wedding, wanted to do good with their registry.  Instead of using the opportunity to just build their own home, they chose to help other people strengthen their homes as well. (No need to give up your own wedding gifts, this is IN ADDITION TO the traditional household registry items!)

Aimee and Mihn called it The Goat Project. Aimee saw the effects of this program personally while in Uganda. It is run by TPO Uganda (a local Ugandan NGO that provides psychosocial support and mental health care to communities, families and individuals in conflict and post conflict settings), and administered in the U.S. by the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development.  In their own words, here’s how the program works:

Children with special needs in refugee camps and rural villages throughout east Africa often are hidden from society, ignored or abused and considered cursed. An announcement is made in the villages that a goat will be given by TPO to any special needs child, which provides visibility to the families so that proper care and support may be given. Families are taught the actual potential and limitations of their children, and often realize they are not alone, as other families with special needs children also become visible. Community is engaged in dialogue and learning, and attitudes slowly transform. The goats provide nutritious and necessary milk and, after bred, food for families in dire straits. Finally, the child, who now owns a goat, has status within the family and community, and a small charge to care for and love. The ripple effects have been astonishing. All for a $45 goat!

Did anyone purchase a goat for Aimee and Mihn? Oh yes! And what did the guests have to say? Although some were  skeptical at first, in the end they LOVED it!

We received goats all right, plus a ton of animated phone calls and giddy emails from our loved ones, telling us how excited they were about their gift to us. Even at our reception, right on the dance floor, we had friends and family eagerly sharing their goat gifts with glee! How happy is that?! We also could have never anticipated the extent of our own excitement. The first time we received a certificate saying that our friends had donated goats in honor of our upcoming marriage, Aimee cried. We knew at that moment that our wedding was extending far beyond ourselves.

And I think that is a really beautiful thing. Because a wedding should be a time to extend beyond ourselves. Creating a marriage and building a home is a beautiful, personal thing, but it is a million times more beautiful when it touches and enlightens the world we live in.