RUBAVU - President Paul Kagame, yesterday, thanked the people who have made the One Cow per Poor Family programme a success, at an event in Rubavu to mark its fifth anniversary.
Through the initiative, known as Girinka Munyarwanda, communities nominate needy families to receive a pregnant cow to improve their nutrition and provide manure to increase yields in their farms.
They are given the cow with the understanding that they pass on the calf to the next family on the list.
President Kagame told the guests, who included ordinary Rwandans, the police, army, businesses and development partners that he greatly valued their contributions;
“In my visits around Rwanda, I have seen for myself how Girinka has transformed the lives of poor people. Many have told me that this is the first time they have ever owned anything, the first time they have ever earned anything.” Kagame said.
“Now their families are better fed and they are earning money for the first time. This is a story I hear everywhere and I thank you for your part in that.”
Many of those recognised at the event were inspired to get involved after seeing the difference the programme makes to the lives of families in their own communities.
President Kagame pointed out that a country where people with the means share with the less privileged develops faster than a country where people are selfish or lack the spirit of giving.
President Kagame, who initiated the programme in 2006, underscored its importance.
He noted that, the fact that the programme has seen numerous Rwandan families lifted out of poverty is proof that with determination, Rwandans can address their own challenges.
The President said that a cow remains a symbol of great value, not only as a sign of love, peace and unity, but also something of great economic importance.
President Kagame emphasized the traditional value of a cow, noting that through passing on off-springs to other needy people, adding that Girinka has brought love, harmony and peaceful coexistence among the people.
He pointed out that the success of the program is a sign that the Rwandan people are committed to ensuring dignity and pride, derived from a situation where all households are able to sustain themselves.
The President called on government leaders, the private sector and those who have the means to keep giving the less privileged, adding that it creates closer links between them and the people that they lead.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, noted that since the programme was launched, more than 106,000 families have benefited. She, however, added that the target of 250, 000 is yet to be achieved.
During the event, more than 2,000 cows were pledged by various institutions and individuals.