Worldwide Goat Project Nepal Supports Goats and Herders
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By Aliya Hall
Eight years ago, Daniel Laney went through one of the darkest periods in his life. After falling ill during a visit to Peru and spending a month in a coma that he wasn’t sure he’d survive, Laney also lost his mother.
“The combination of the coma and the loss of my mom — I was at a loss for a period,” he said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
It was his second child who encouraged him to combine his love of goats, education, and Nepal. This son was also the reason Laney got into goats in 1972, because he was lactose intolerant and Laney discovered goat milk was the best alternative for a mother’s milk.
“I’ve been able to extend my life longer and wanted to do something more,” he said. “My purpose was to help farmers in Nepal.”
Laney then started with Worldwide Goat Project Nepal. He works with their government and the nonprofit organization of Women’s Skills Development Organization (WSDO) in Pokhara to provide veterinary supplies, basic tools, and best practice trainings to local herders.
Laney works with WSDO; he buys handwoven, cloth goats from them to then sell to raise money for medicine, tools, and female Nepali goats. The cloth goats are for sale for $15 and the full profit from every purchase goes into the fund. With their relationship, he has been able to donate a sewing machine to them and is working on donating a second one.
“It’s been a real inspirational way to support and connect with them,” he said.
Originally his plan was to transport semen from Kiko goats to cross with their Kuri goats to give them a larger goat with more protein, but due to money constraints, the concept shifted to him improving the herds they already had. Now his focus is crossing Saanen and Kuri goats.
Each time he goes, however, he adds a new aspect that’s focused around the goats and can be self-sustainable. With it being just him that runs the project, he uses the education he’s learned as a past president of the American Dairy Goat Association and a judge at goat competitions.
For example, the Nepali herders were struggling with their female goats not producing enough milk. Laney realized that the goats not having 24/7 access to water, and the random inbreeding of young females, was impacting their milk production.
He has also helped introduce the added value of goat cheese products, which are now being sold in restaurants. Laney said that Nepal is known as a tourist destination and for European travelers who are familiar with goat cheese, it’s an added bonus.
Laney’s latest project focuses on involving kids because “They’re our hope,” he said. He’s worked with schools to create postcards featuring goats drawn by kids, and in the future wants to do a project where the kids will plant seedling trees to use as forage for goats and erosion control.
“I want to encourage their involvement in being a part of the whole cycle of empowerment,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges that Laney has had to overcome is the fact that he lost the ability to speak Nepali due to his coma. After 30 years of visiting the country he was proficient in the language, but now he works with his friends as translators.
Laney also added that having the right frame of mind to make it work for everyone involved is crucial.
“You must come from a place of respect,” he said. “Respect for the people you are working with, respect for their culture, and you must be a respectful person.”
Laney expressed how much he loves the country and their culture, and he doesn’t want to change the country but assist the Nepali people as they work to make their lives better. The most rewarding aspect of what he does is getting to see the outcome, like the benefits of giving goats access to water consistently and seeing the goats have a lower mortality rate.
“The goats are just amazing, and it’s amazing what a positive impact they have on cultures everywhere,” he said.
For Laney, part of the joy is being part of something bigger than himself. He said it’s important for people, especially as they get older, to have a purpose and focus because it comes back “tenfold in rewards.”
As for regrets, Laney only has one: “I just wish I started this 30 years ago.”
For more information, or to purchase the handmade goats, visit kalimandu.com.
Originally published in the July/August 2021 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.