by Lettie Stratton
Shelburne Community School (SCS) eighth grader Emma Pell earns money babysitting and doing odd jobs during the summer, but she doesn’t spend her hard-earned funds on clothes or movie tickets. Instead, she buys goats. That’s right—Emma has saved her allowance and babysitting money to purchase two goats for less fortunate families in Africa.
“Several months ago, I became aware of the problem of food scarcity in third-world countries,” Emma said. She explained that she was inspired by something her mom was reading that posed the question, “what would you change if you could change one thing in the world?” Emma began to realize that many people don’t have access to food like most of us do here in the U.S. “I wanted to make a difference,” she said.
So why goats? “Goats provide cheese, cream, milk, and eventually meat for families that otherwise wouldn’t have these things,” Emma explained. She and her mom researched different programs and brainstormed for about a month before deciding where to concentrate their energy. Emma has been working with an organization called World Vision to get these goats to families in need.
One of these families includes a young girl in Malawi named Rita, who Emma has been supporting for about eight months. “On the website [www.worldvision.org], you can search for kids by birthday, so Rita and I share a birthday!” Emma said. Although Rita doesn’t speak English, Emma writes her letters with photos and sends pencils, erasers, and other school supplies to further support her and establish direct communication. Rita finds someone in her town that speaks English and can write Emma back.
Emma is hoping to help other families as well. “I realized that I wanted to help more than just two families, so I’ve started the project Knit a Dishcloth, Buy a Goat,” she said. “I’ve been knitting for a really long time.”
Here’s Emma’s plan: She’ll knit dishcloths and wrap them around bars of soap to sell at the SCS Craft Fair on Dec. 1. Mark and Renee Davitt of Twin Craft Soap in Winooski will donate 30 bars to the cause. Emma is also hoping to set up a table at other places in the community to sell her product.
But all of this is a lot of work and Emma only has two hands. “I can’t knit fast enough!” she said. “I’d like to get the word out to other knitters and people in our community who might be willing to help me build my inventory.” You can find Emma’s project on Facebook and if you’re interested in contributing, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at 985-3160.
“I really hope the project goes well,” Emma said. “I want to get four or five goats to Africa. There are so many people who need the help.” Keep an eye out around town for Emma’s Knit a Dishcloth, Buy a Goat flyers.