The “Gets your goat” Project at Mirasoles Farm
Young people who have been marginalised can feel frustrated and misunderstood. The “Gets your goat” Project seeks to support, encourage and engage young people so that the resentment and inadequacy they can experience does not come to define who they are. It brings marginalised youth together building solidarity between different groups. It provides avenues for their diverse realities to be validated and to contribute to decision-making. It offers opportunities for them to participate in defining solutions to the problems they are often identified as causing.
But the Gets your Goat project is also about building vocational skills for these youth and providing them with livelihood opportunities. By training them in dairy goat management and supporting them establish their own small scale farming initiative, they become leaders and agents of change within their own community.
The “Gets your Goat” Project is run by ProActividad. ProActividad is a registered Non/Government Organisation in the Dominican Republic whose primary mission is to improve sexual and reproductive health and socioeconomic outcomes for marginalised youth in the Dominican Republic through facilitated access to reproductive health information, services and supplies; and social and economic empowerment.
Our work is based on a rights-based approach where participation, inclusion and accountability are central principles. It is important that young people enjoy the rights and socio-economic opportunities necessary to develop to their full potential, and can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. ProActividad believes that these issues are critical for promoting development, fighting poverty and, ultimately, for achieving a better society.
Young people in rural and semi-rural areas in the Dominican Republic are largely excluded from both decisions on the formulation and development of rural policy, and decision-making processes related to youth policy. This, even though these young people are often more profoundly affected than other youth by the transitions taking place in contemporary Dominican society. Many serious problems confront young people in rural areas in the Dominican Republic; high unemployment, marginalisation, a lack of appropriate resources, a level of education below that available in larger towns, limited career prospects and poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Marginalised youth such as LGBTI youth, young people of Haitian descent, youth involved in transactional sex, young people who use drugs and teenage mothers may overlap (i.e. LGBTI youth involved in transactional sex) or have little in common. However, they share being disenfranchised and facing discrimination. Given the lack of dedicated services for different groups in rural areas, ProActividad works to build a platform based on shared experiences of marginalisation that builds solidarity between different groups of young people. In this way these negative experiences unify and foster joint resilience.
ProActividad has a small core staff of 6 persons and a large network of 100s of partners, members and volunteers. The organisation has learned over the years that it is not sufficient to ensure marginalised youth have information and access to reproductive health services and supplies, if they are not also provided with technical skills and income-generating opportunities in their communities. Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) needs to be linked with actions in other sectors, particularly education and employment; and poverty reduction efforts must take special account of marginalisation. The Gets My Goat Project is how we are setting all of this learning and experience into action.