Craig Traffic slowed on West Victory Way in Craig on Tuesday morning, and drivers craned their necks to watch the odd spectacle of Steve Wescott nonchalantly leading a backpack-laden goat down the sidewalk.
“I left Seattle May 2, 2013, and headed east,” Wescott said. “I’d read that goats make good pack animals, so I went ahead and looked on Craigslist. The thing nobody tells you about goats though is they’re slow as hell.”
Hoping to hoof it to Steamboat Springs on Wednesday, Wescott doubts he’ll make it. LeeRoy sets his own pace, which means that Wescott often ends up camping on the roadside.
“It’s like walking across the country with a toddler,” Wescott said with a laugh. “But he likes it. If we stay put for a few days, he starts getting restless like a ‘come on, let’s go,’ thing.”
Wherever they roam, cameras just can’t seem to stay away, slowing the pair down to as little as 3 miles per day in larger cities, but then again, Wescott’s pretty noticeable.
“I saw the goat, and I saw him yesterday, too,” said Julia Camp as she snapped pictures on her cellphone. She promised Wescott that she would drive out after him and bring the man and goat a little lunch.
“People are awesome with stuff like that,” Wescott said as he ate a modest breakfast courtesy of Craig’s Cool Water Grille server Karla Zamora. “I’ll never stop being amazed how generous people have been while I’ve been walking.”
Wescott isn’t simply roaming; he and LeeRoy Brown, a 6-year-old Alpine/Boer goat, are walking from Seattle to New York City to raise money for a drug rehabilitation program and an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, that Wescott co-founded with his best friend Steve Turner in 2010.
Turner had gone to Africa on a personal mission trip, feeling that he was led there by God to help uplift the people living in miserable conditions and utter poverty in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city.
“People there are just giving up on life,” Wescott said. “And he started asking ‘What’s killing these people?’ and it turns out the biggest problem was the drugs.”
Wescott and Turner decided to create a two-fold ministry focusing on drug rehabilitation and caring for children orphaned or neglected because of drug use. Many of the children themselves are addicted and will huff glue or gasoline to stay warm at night and fend off hunger pains.
“You feel like the CEO of a failing company,” Wescott said. “There are always fires to put out. There are so many challenges and difficulties.”
The duo established their ministry in Sodom, possibly the worst area of the poverty-stricken Kawangware slum community, so named because the extensive disintegration of society and rampant crime were so prevalent.
“We’re the two most unlikely people to run and orphanage,” Wescott said, recounting his former life touring with bands for 15 years. “I was totally a rocker. I wasn’t really following my faith so getting this together with ST (Turner) has been a huge positive force in my life.”
The rehab center came first, and once Wescott got on board and proposed an orphanage, Uzima Outreach and Intervention was born.
The rented facility that houses the orphanage now is home to 30 children, the youngest having arrived at just 4 days old.
“Some of these kids’ parents are in the rehab program,” Wescott said. “Our goal, the whole point, is to reunite them and bring these families back together.”
Wescott has never actually seen the fruits of his labors in person. He sold almost everything he had to provide for the children and support the project as he and Turner got their operation up and running.
Everything included the money he had saved to travel to Africa, so Wescott hopes to raise enough on his cross-country journey to finally join Turner in Kenya and hopefully expand the ministry to serve more people.
“Our goal is to be self-sufficient or at least rely on donations as little as possible,” Wescott said. “We want to buy a farm and then we’d have food for the kids and some left to sell for profit.”
Adult participants in the program also can learn a trade or skill to help them get back on their feet by achieving a marketable proficiency in their area of choice. The idea is that through prayer and the development of income-generating skills, the impetus to resort to crime would fall dramatically.
“Things are happening,” Wescott said. “It’s slow but we’re dedicated to this. This is where God has commanded us to go.”
For more information contact Andie Tessler at 970-875-1793 of firstname.lastname@example.org.