In an effort to reconstruct Rwanda, the Government drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices by deciding to adapt development programs and coming up with home grown solutions. One of these home grown is the Girinka program and since its introduction, hundreds of thousands have received cows through the Girinka program. The program also known as One Cow per Poor Family was initiated in 2006 by H.E. Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda after seeing that a big number of children under five years were malnourished. According to the program, a poor family receives a heifer, raises it and when she gives birth, the first female calf is given to another poor family and the process continues. Since 2006, a total of 341,065 (97.4%) cows have been distributed to poor households,Girinka program has also captured for 7 years government program where other 189,000 cows will be distributed to vulnerable families; Economically, the program has contributed to an increase in agricultural production in Rwanda where individual farmers have been able to take loans (Bank) to engage in development- especially milk production and products, reduced malnutrition and increased incomes. The one cow per poor family has created employment to the population which has also led to the increase of in-country milk production through Milk collection centers (MCC) and Rwanda was able to start school milk program (One cup Program) that has led to improved livelihood of beneficiaries. The program is based on Social cohesion, there has been animprovement in the social welfare of receiving families (living condition) because of the premise that providing a dairy cow to poor households helps to improve their livelihood as a result of a more nutritious and balanced diet from milk, increased agricultural output through better soil fertility as well as greater incomes by commercialising dairy products. How to become a Girinka beneficiary According to Methode Gasana Ngabo the Girinka Coordinator, the program follows a certain criteria in choosing who the beneficiaries should be at grassroots level by the community. “We mainly look at those very poor vulnerable families that don’t own a cow but do have land that can be used to grow pasture for feeding the cows” says Ngabo. The beneficiary should be in position to construct an animal shed or willing to join others in community to construct a communal cow shed (igikumba rusange); to be jointly used with the rest. There is continuous training of Girinka beneficiaries on animal husbandry practices by RAB in collaboration with Districts and other stakeholders. Another criterion followed in choosing a beneficiary is the social integration aspect. The beneficiary should be socially well integrated in community development activities and should also be willing and enthusiastic to pass on the first female calf to new selected beneficiary. Strategies to speed up the implementation process with stakeholders RAB mobilizes stakeholders to support Girinka program through helping to facilitate access to veterinary services for Girinka farmers and reinforces involvement of civil society within Girinka implementation activities. According to Damascene Ntambara, the Country Director of MSAADA Rwanda which is one of the stakeholders and a registered International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) which operates in Rwamagana and Kayonza districts,“MSAADA began its work in Rwanda in 2005 in partnership with AVEGA East, a widows’ support group formed after the Genocide to help widows and orphans to overcome the ravages of that horrible time which left them traumatised and impoverished” said Damascene Ntambara. According to him, prior to the donation of a cow, MSAADA trains beneficiaries. So far, MSAADA has donated 361 pure breed Fresian cows of which are 67 pass-ons. “Another round of 20 pass-ons will happen in May, 2019. Apart from donation of pure-breed in-calf heifers,MSAADA also donates super semen to RAB to inseminate the cows belonging to vulnerable farmers country wide. MSAADA has so far donated 25,000 Fresian super semen straws to support Girinka Program” explained Ntambara. Girinka has set up committees on livestock management and punishment for those who committed crimes under Girinka Program according to penal codes are dished out. Also RAB has implemented ways of recovering of cows from those who do not deserve them and redistributed to eligible beneficiaries. My life was restored through Girinka It would be untruthful of me to say that I have ever lacked the good things in life says Mukarumanzi Anges. Before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, I considered myself the “farming type”, so to speak. Oddly enough, everything surrounding me and my family was what one would consider good life until I lost everything during the Genocide. Quite honestly, I hold no more cherished memories than those. I lost everything, my husband my children, our cows and almost all members of my family. I survived with two kids and life became a struggle. Food was had to get and I was in a fathomless abyss of sorrow and I thought all was lost forever but I was wrong. It was in February 2015 when with both luck and good will from the residents of Munyaga sector in Karabo village in Rwamgagana district that I was chosen as a Girinka beneficiary by the local authorities and I received a cow under Girinka program. . I named her Imanzi, a name much similar to mine. Immediately my life changed. I vividly remember the joy in my heart when they handed over a cow, I knew then that my chance had come and ever since then I never looked back. Mukarumanzi was lucky that Imanzi gave birth to three calves consecutively meaning she got to keep them as the law required that if the cow donated to her gave birth to a heifer, she had to pass it on to another beneficiary. She however did not use that to her advantage and being good hearted as she is, she immediately sought ways of finding a heifer to pass on to another disadvantaged colleague. “Honestly after Imanzi gave birth to a second male calf , I raised it and , I decided to find a heifer and I exchanged my bull for a heifer to pass on. I had sold my first bull to renovate my house and replace the worn out wooden doors for metallic ones. The third calf that Imanzi gave birth to, I gave as a gift to express my appreciation to a longtime friend of mine to cement our friendship” says Mukarumanzi. Mukarumanzi says she milks 33 liters of milk per day, out of which she sells 23 and the six liters are put a side for the calf and the remaining 4 liters are for home consumption. “Having a cow that gives out so much milk has changed my life. I used to weigh 48 kilos but because of good feeding and less stress, am now 64 kilos and very healthy” she says Because Mukarumanzi has always dreamt of being a successful farmer, she decided to save some money and ventured into saving groups where she is now a member in four different associations. “The saving groups have helped me to save a lot of money. Am in four groups and one I save 10000 frw per month, another 3000 Frw, another 1000 Frw and the last one I save 500 per month saving a total of 14500 per month” she explains “With my savings, I recently acquired land . When RAB gave us banana seedlings, I planted over 400 banana trees in a single day because I had the money to pay the labor. This would never have been possible if I had not received a cow from Girinka program” she concludes. She has been rewarded twice as the best dairy farmer by RAB and the Ministry of agriculture for winning the milk competition on both district and National levels. I was empowered through Girinka programme The sound of cows and the noise of people charting in the background greet you as you branch from road towards the homestead that is surrounded by gardens rich with tomatoes and flourishing well-kept maize. As you approach the compound behind the house, the sight of a lady squeezing milk out of a big healthy Friesian cow makes you think there is more to it than a normal working day. The Friesian being milked is one of the four cows in the cowshed; the fresh beans are piled in sacks, a sign of a successful harvest and a fact that the owner has made something of herself over the years. The lady is a resident of Munyenga sector, Kaduha cell, Kamamana village in Rwamagana district and as she tenderly milks her cow, Mukabonera Beatrice explains why she does the donkey work in spite of the fact that she employs a cow boy. “I decided to do the milking myself after I realized that the cow boy was not doing a good job and a lot of milk was left in the udder that caused my cow to develop mastitis, which is an inflammation and infection in the udder” she explained. Mukabonera Beatrice tenderly milks her cow. Mukabonera in her farm that she firtilizes with the manure from her cows. Before she was given the cow in 2015 through the Girinka program, Mukabonera used to go to bed many nights hungry because there was nothing left after feeding her three children. “Now my children have grown and most of the time I am home alone with the workers so I sell most of the milk that I get from my cow after putting aside the 6 liters for the calf and donating some to vulnerable or sick neighbors” she expains Today, Mukambonera milks 26 liters per day. She has installed electricity and has a homemade biogas plant has saved enough to expand her cowshed and is into commercial farming thanks to the fertilizers from her cows.