The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, donated 200 cows to residents in Rweru model village in Bugesera District, Eastern Province as part of Girinka (one-Cow-per-Poor-Family) programme which he described as the perfect tool for social bonding in communities across the country.
Initiated in 2006, the programme is one of Rwanda’s home-grown solutions to combat socio-economic problems.
Modi, who concluded his two-day state visit to Rwanda yesterday, wants the Girinka story to be known back home in India as a model for not only economic transformation but also for building bonds among residents in communities.
Girinka helped improve lives by fighting malnutrition, income generation and contributed in rebuilding Rwanda’s post-Genocide social fabric as more than 300,000 cows have exchanged hands since it was started.
Explaining that the “people in India may not know the respect Rwandans have for the cow”, the premier said that the aspect where one receiver of a cow under Girinka inherits the obligation to donate its first female calf to a neighbour was key.
“This leads to such unique social bonding that can’t be described. The cow is not only the source of milk and other dairy products and a source of economic development, but the entire concept of gifting a cow is so unique,” he said through a translator.
President Kagame told Rweru residents that, through his visit, the Indian premier has joined Rwanda on its journey of development.
“He donated 200 cows and every family will get a cow. As usual a family will get a pregnant cow and when it delivers the calf will be given to the neighbour but the rest of the cows born after that will all belong to the owner,” he told hundreds of cheerful residents.
Nearly 150 households are currently sheltered in Rweru model village that was built by the government. President Kagame urged the residents to take good care of the cows and wished them to be able to raise many more and achieve prosperity.
Bosco Kazungu, a father of three children who is among those who received a cow, said that it will tremendously improve his life.
“I was overwhelmed by joy standing side by side with our President and receiving a cow. I would like to thank the Prime Minister of India for giving me a cow and may God bless him,” he said in an interview with The New Times.
“I think I am now moving to another level, out of poverty. This cow will help me to develop myself and I am sure it will help me feed my children well”.
Jean Christophe Rwabuhihi, the Executive Secretary of Rweru Sector, said that cows received by residents in Rweru model village will be critical in improving their lives.
Girinka is hailed by beneficiaries across the country to have improved their livelihoods through milk consumption and sale of milk products, as well as providing manure.