Goats changing life of Roma family and community 

Four years after the Roma People’s Goat Project in Nemsa started (2004), Maria Lesca and her family have ten goats, seven Alpine dairy goats imported from France and three local, Romanian Carpathian goats.
In 2004, at Heifer’s arrival in the village of Nemsa, Maria’s family only had one goat, Lizzy. They kept her in the basement of the house, because the family didn’t have the money to restore the old shelter, at the time not in a proper condition for hosting animals.

2004: Maria and son Vasile with old empty shelter

In September 2004 Maria received four goats, becoming one of the first Roma Heifer beneficiaries in Romania. The goats, together with training in animal breeding, made a great difference to the Lesca family. They managed to repair the old shelter and turned it into a spacious, clean space for the four Carpathian goats.


2005: Cristian, Maria’s husband, proudly showing his Heifer goats to an exchange group
of Roma farmers from Deaj, another Roma community

The family raised the number of goats as they increased skills in animal breeding. The Lesca family became a model for other families in Nemsa and not only. Heifer Romania organized several exchange visits for other communities to Nemsa, in order for farmers to see the excellent example of the Nemsa group.


In 2007, after having displayed great interest and dedication in goat breeding, the Roma community in Nemsa was chosen to become one of the beneficiaries of a new, interesting project, Alpine Goats for Two Poor Communities. Dairy Alpine goats imported from France were distributed to the most skilled farmers in two villages, Nemsa and Dragu.


One of the beneficiaries is Maria’s family, who received seven Alpine goats. They still have three Carpathian goats from the previous years, but are much more excited of the Alpine goats, beautiful, gentle and with a high production of quality milk. 

2008: Cristian Lesca and son Mihai with Alpine goats

Maria and Cristian Lesca are currently unemployed and searching for jobs in the nearby town of Medias, central Transylvania. With no income other than social assistance, the Heifer goats are a great help for the family. The young ones, Vasile (16) and Mihai (7) and their grandparents, to whom Maria brings milk every day, all love goat milk and benefit of its amazing nutritional qualities.
The last beneficiary of goat milk is no other than the family cat, Susanna, patiently waiting for food leftovers on the roof of the old house.


Susanna never loses hope of a few drops of tasty milk 

 2008: Maria, Cristian and Mihai Lesca with their old house


Everything Heifer has done over the last four years in the Roma community of Nemsa has slowly changed the face of the village and the spirit of the community. The Roma farmers have become skilled in goat breeding; they have learned to grow vegetables (organic’ they don’t use any fertilizers, which are expensive). Probably most importantly, they have learned the value of being a strong, united group and realized that together they can achieve a lot more for their families and village.


In 2004, not many believed in the outcome of a Roma project, as the Roma people have always been regarded with suspicion and discriminated against by all other ethnic groups. In 2008, the community of Nemsa is a true model for many other Heifer Romania projects, no matter the ethnicity of the beneficiaries.

Anca Oprita
Communication and PR Coordinator
Heifer Romania
January 18, 2008

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