You are a farmer in an Outreach-affiliated community in DR Congo. You and the other farmers who live here have the same needs as any farmer anywhere; chiefly, a means to efficiently plough your fields and haul the sorts of heavy equipment and materials that a farmer uses to fix what needs fixing and build what needs building. Farm stuff. Pretty straightforward. After working with Outreach facilitators for years, your community has experience in resolving these sorts of things by working through the steps of the Outreach Process, so you attend a community meeting to make a plan that achieves your goal.
Overall, things went well, given all human work is not lacking in flaw.
You discuss housing for the cattle— two enclosures and two sheds to house one pair in your community and another pair that’ll go to another Outreach-affiliated community nearby,
You listen as others mention lessons learned during previous community efforts, to ensure mistakes are not repeated.
You make a plan for everyone in your community to share duties feeding and caring for the cattle in exchange for members’ access to the animals’ hauling prowess on their own farms.
You agree that when not in use by members of your community, the cattle can be available for hire by people who live near your community, and you can invest those proceeds back into the community for your next joint endeavor.
It’s a really productive meeting. Some of your neighbors head off to start construction on the sheds and cattle enclosures. For the rest of you, it’s time for a cattle drive.
The Grass is Greener
The cattle in question aren’t exactly waiting at the local pet store, though. They’re grazing across the border, in Zambia. And not right there on the border, either— you’ll need to cross a river and journey through a few different districts. So you’ll need to arrange transportation, but most importantly, you’ll need the proper paperwork.
You’ll need a signed letter from the government administrator for your territory, which turns out to be easy, since he grew up in a nearby village, and is excited to see your community working together for the common good.
You’ll also need to make some calls to ensure that the letter reaches authorities at the border before you do, so by the time you and your new cattle show up to cross, you’ll have authorization.
Since, for all the authorities know, your new cattle could be vectors for disease to cross from Zambia into DR Congo, you’ll need to take the precaution of quarantining them for inspection and immunization. This requires another series of calls and arrangements with those who approve things. More calls and more paperwork follow. It’s part of the process.
Those accompanying the cattle will need different visas for every district through which they travel, and the cattle themselves need permits to be exported, then later, permits to be imported. Some regions that were once only one district have been divided into two districts, and now each requires a different visa from travelers. All of these things cost money, so instead of you and your neighbors incurring needless expenses, you wave to the Outreach facilitators from the riverbank early the next morning as they head off on their own to spearhead cattle-acquisition efforts. Since they’ve worked with you and your neighbors for so long, this isn’t a hand-off of responsibility; it’s the most sensible route to accomplish your community’s goals.
The Outreach facilitators, Michel and Erick, pay what needs paying in order to purchase the cattle, then pay what needs paying to get back to the river in the late afternoon. At the river, there are bureaucratic snags that delay progress to the point that by the time the cattle make it across the river, the sunset has been a memory for hours. The cattle sleep on the ferry overnight, since continuing back to the village at this hour isn’t workable or safe.
Because the cattle are on the ferry, you, your neighbors, Michel and Erick get hotel rooms, which aren’t in the budget, but will make it easy to kick off the last leg of the cattle drive bright and early tomorrow morning.
By the Horns
By the following afternoon, you and your neighbors are meeting with the administrator whose official letter made this journey possible. You all express your sincere thanks to him, his office, the Outreach Congo staff, and Outreach donors, whose generosity made these possibilities possible in the first place. Tenacity and gratitude are two ongoing elements of your collective success.
A little later, an animal trainer visits, does an initial inspection, and works out a monthly payment schedule for the services and care he provides. Soon, the cattle will know their purpose, all trained to plow and haul and transport. For now, they need rest.
After a few days idling, the cattle move into their new homes, one pair in your community, and the other pair to the other Outreach-affiliated community nearby. Your neighbors worked together to acquire materials for the cattle enclosures, then worked together to construct them. During your longstanding partnership with Outreach, your community has learned that teamwork and mutual support for one another is key to success, which is why you and your neighbors have participated in every step, and why all of you will be there again next time, together.
When the report documenting this project is written by Michel and Erick, it will say things like “All the objectives we set for ourselves were achieved for this first phase,” and it will credit the “Active participation of members” in all aspects as a key factor. In the section of the report that details any difficulties encountered, it will say, beautifully, “Overall, things went well, given all human work is not lacking in flaw.”
Your community is practiced at applying the steps of the Outreach Process to address and resolve the issues you face. Your work together has given all of you the ability to do things like this; things you once might not have thought possible. Now that you have cattle, you have a higher platform on which to build your next success, just as the previous success brought you here. Soon, you’ll meet as a group again and discuss the possibility of petitioning your territory’s administrator for breeding stock to maximize the utility signified by the new cattle, and also as a means of generating income through the sale of potential offspring. Fields need to be tilled. Heavy things need to be moved.
There is ample work ahead. You can do it.