Rabbit Soup In Sierra Leone

04/16/09

Earlier this year, Arlene Raub, Children of the Nations–International Sierra Leone Liaison, introduced an exciting item amongst the list of activities lined up for 2009 in pursuance of the new “ownership concept” being embraced by COTN family members: the “Rabbit Project.” At the first meeting held earlier this year in Sierra Leone, as department heads plotted out the way forward for 2009, they considered the project proposed made by “Aunty” Arlene.

The project, which seems to have the potential to engage interested staff members in productive leisure-time activities, caught the excitement and attention of most of those in attendance. The idea was really well received. Since last year, staff members have been made aware of the long-term effect of the global credit crunch on American donors and on our budget, which has brought to the forefront of our attention the great need for self-sustainability in all of our programs.

The Rabbit Project seems to be an economically viable activity that will move us toward the fulfillment of that objective. It has the potential to be a major source of protein supply in Banta and its environs, where the main source of meat protein is from bush meat, especially monkey meat. This source is getting very scarce as monkeys are becoming wiser in escaping the hunter’s traps and bullets. Okoro Soup (prepared with monkey meat) is hardly seen around these days, and neither is Pig Meat Soup, which is available seasonally, but only to those who can afford to raise pigs.

Rabbit meat readily qualifies as the best and ever-ready substitute because of their rapid reproductive capability. Also, the project can become a rescue mission to save our rare species of monkey from becoming extinct. The heavy mining activities in the Banta area are already driving the bush animals to neighboring countries for safety as their natural habitats are being destroyed. Rabbit meat is palatable and affordable, containing nutritious ingredients for any dish in Banta where the predominantly Muslim population doesn’t eat monkey or pig meat, and also for the children in our Children’s Homes and their caregivers.

It takes serious commitment to raise rabbits, which is why there are stiff conditions to be met before anyone, whether they are a member of our staff, a church group, or otherwise, will be able to participate in the project. Those wanting to participate are required to construct a rabbit hutch according to given specifications. Upon completion, submission, and inspection of the hutch, the participant will receive a breeding pair of rabbits. The personal investment (the time and cost of producing hutches) in order to qualify for the project, is a clear indication of the participant’s determination the sustain it.

Earlier this year, Arlene led a two-hour class in raising rabbits for any candidate to attend so as to ensure that investment is not lost. She is setting an example for us in teaching us how to manage our responsibilities in our positions at COTN well. However, she is also encouraging and teaching us to embark on a sustainable lifestyle where we use our leisure time and self-initiative to multiply our profit and provide needed resources for the community.

Whatever way one looks at it, I will put my bet on Rabbit Soup against Okoro or Pig Meat Soup for the most consumed protein dish for this year.