Thorab is the head of a tribe of Kuchi nomads. For thousands of years, the Kuchi (pronounced Kutshie) have lived as semi-nomads in Afghanistan and the surrounding countries. During summer, they live in mountain regions where there is fresh grass for their animals. But as winter approaches, they move to the valleys. This sometimes involves traveling huge distances and it's not uncommon for them to be on the road for six weeks or more.
During the time of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan suffered a devastating drought. Many Kuchi tribes lost nearly all of their herds, particularly sheep. But even thousands of camels – normally the pride of the Kuchi and well used to dry conditions – perished. Thorab's clans were among those who were left totally impoverished by the terrible conditions.
To allow them to regain their herds of sheep, which form the basis of their livelihoods, Shelter Now, working in conjunction with tribal leaders, devised a microloan project. The idea was that they would receive sheep “on loan”, paying back the money at a later date. This is how it works:
Credit in the form of sheep
The project began in 2007 with 50 families. Each family was given 5 ewes, and one in three families also received a ram. Six months later the first lambs were born, who in turn became pregnant themselves just six months later. The money for the original ewes had to be paid back after 12 months and was then given to other families from the same clan. In addition to these new families, another 40 families were also given 5 ewes each. So one year later, the money was redistributed to 90 new families; fresh loans were also given to another 30 families. After that, no new money was given out.
So now 120 new families a year are benefiting from the project and their sheep are reproducing well. The first families will soon have herds of around 50 sheep each, which is enough to ensure their livelihood. But not all families in the clan have received sheep yet...
Ewes seeking more rams!
When Thorab heard that Udo Stolte was in Kabul in September 2011, he came to visit and report a problem: he says his people are very happy with the project and the sheep are reproducing well. But he says they need more rams. Already last year they didn't have enough. They currently need 40 new rams. Each one costs around 170 Euro. Altogether that is around 7,000 Euro. Unfortunately we don't have the money at the moment. Nevertheless, we are paying out 5,000 Euro in advance – in the hope that donors will come forward to cover these costs. (Please quote “Sheep Project” when making a donation).