The Shit Starts Here (TSSH) is an agricultural, micro-finance, conservation initiative of The Guardian Project, co-founded by Canadians Rita & Jeff Rayman and Rwandan Paul Ruganintwali.
Blessed to have traveled the world extensively, Rita & Jeff were aware that the majority of people live in poverty and insecurity, often in the interest of Western affluence and ease.
It was callous to continue traveling without doing something to change these circumstances.
Having already spent years in philanthropy, and having started their own foundation, Rita & Jeff knew that charitable handouts have been proven to be mostly ineffective & unsustainable, and strip people of their independence & dignity.
Their hope was to facilitate a lasting change, in a way that they were almost invisible in the process, other than having seeded that change.
And so, in 2010, The Shit Starts Here - A Guardian Project Initiative was launched in Rwanda.
For insight into the world of aid, please see an article by Rita Rayman on the Press page of this website.
Farming cooperatives use composted animal manure and other organic material to increase crop yields, encouraging income generation and entrepreneurship, fostering independence and dignity.
Animal reproduction becomes an income source or a savings account.
Focusing on women, we concentrate on cooperatives bordering national parks, because a stable community does not poach the animals and trees within.
Our presence in conflict-ridden areas supports farming as a successful alternative to picking up weapons and an opportunity to lay down weapons, while our presence in post-conflict areas helps communities re-build.
No admin costs and no overhead.
Just a middled aged couple and 6 small teams of amazing volunteers.
So 100% of every donation goes directly to sourcing animals and crop seeds.
We are continually heartened by simple stories of real, sustainable change through hard work, determination, and so much joy.
Stories of new found domestic peace and partnership, and the pride of being able to “lift as you rise” when one cooperative provides animals to another, paying forward.
Even the smallest change can create long-term thinking, unlocking human potential.
Entrepreneurship. Community development. Dreaming.
Manure changes peoples lives.
90,000+ lives in just 6 years.
a sustainable, scalable, community building, income generating, peace building, conservation initiative...really!
Overfarming depletes nutrients in the soil.
The Shit Starts Here - A Guardian Project Initiative currently works, and continues to expand, in Rwanda, Northern Uganda, Eastern D.R. Congo, Togo and Bhutan.
What's all this about Shit?
General Manager of Operations - Togo
How Did We Get Mixed Up In This Sh*t?
Koku Prosper Nyanu
General Manager of Operations - S. Kivu, D.R.C.
General Manager of Operations - N. Kivu, D.R.C.
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The Shit Starts Here - A Guardian Project Initiative is not a charity but rather an opportunity...a hand up, not a handout, that fosters independence and dignity.
Lopen Namgay Tenzin
We provide sheep and goats to co-operatives of subsistence farmers in order to compost the manure into organic fertilizer, which in turn increases crop yields.
In addition, as the animals reproduce, excess can be sold for income and life advancement such as health care, educational needs, home improvement and entrepreneurial initiatives.
A stable community helps to guarantee the protection and conservation of nearby parks and forests and the wildlife, including mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and other endangered primates, that live in them. If there is enough food on the table and money to buy cooking fuel, there is no need to go poaching. And potential exists for other income-generating entrepreneurial activities.
Working with established cooperatives, we provide each farmer with a female sheep or goat as well as males for studding.
And a pay-forward component ensures our obsolescence in any one area, allowing us to continually expand.
Working with the input of the cooperatives and sensitive to local conditions, we've developed a system that works.
As we gave the initial farmers the benefit of opportunity, so they turn around and give that same opportunity to other members of their community, in other cooperatives, lifting as they rise.
The cycle perpetuates itself as we continue to provide new sheep and goats to new cooperatives in addition to those being passed on by previous cooperatives.
We work with established co-operatives, focusing on women whenever possible, encouraging independence and the dignity that comes with it.
We also concentrate, but are not exclusive to, cooperatives bordering national parks, because a stable community does not poach the animals and trees within.
Our presence in conflict areas supports farming as a successful alternative to picking up weapons.
And our presence in post-conflict areas helps communities re-build their lives.
We now have over 8000 animals in the project, with more being born regularly and more to be purchased in the coming weeks.
There have been improved crop yields (in many cases up to 300% increases reported) and additional access to funds (by selling their animals) to pay for school fees, health concerns, home improvements and entrepreneurial initiatives that generate even further income.
Statistical details available upon request.
Better healthcare, access to education and home improvements, and micro-businesses opportunities, all generated by the community, not charitable handouts.
And access to organic fertilizer means safety from the adverse health effects of chemical fertilizers.
Ours is a love story that's full of sh*t- a simple, transparent, scalable, sustainable, community-building, income-generating, peace-building, conservation initiative...really!
General Managers of Operations - Uganda
The currency is animals, the loan is interest free, and a pay-forward component ensures continuity & expansion.
It’s very easy to do harm in philanthropy, especially when you don’t understand the circumstances on the ground, the culture, the unintended consequences—or have a way to deal with them. You have to be careful and remember to go by the old saying, Do no harm. - Howard Buffet
Who Is Stirring Up All this Sh*t?
Manure from animals, when composted into free, organic fertilizer and applied to the soil, increases crop yields.
Esther Atoo &
Pitching This Sh*t....