MOSES GAHIGI discovers what impact send a cow has made to the lives of the beneficiaries
John Gakwaya, 81 believes he would be dead by now given his old age. He says his life span ended a long time ago but milk has kept him going.
Gakwaya was doing badly until ‘Send a cow’ gave him a fresian cow. It is now five ago since he got the cow and his life has improved miraculously.
He is one of the many satisfied beneficiaries of the United Kingdom based non-profit making NGO that focuses on elevating people’s livelihoods through giving out a gift of a cow.
Started in 2001, the Send a cow programme was essentially initiated to reduce poverty, malnutrition while contributing to the knitting together of the Rwandan society from the after effect of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
Dorocella Mukanyonga reveals that before she was given the fresian cow, she had looked after her one local breed cow and nothing much was changing for the better year after year.
After receiving the gift of a cow in 2007, she boasts of a happy family now fed on milk every day, assured of a daily home supply of family basic requirements using money got from the surplus milk sold.
“Send a cow has been a mother to us. It has made me a proud farmer because the cow has my family live decent life,” narrated Mukanyonga.
Besides this, Mukanyonga explains the Send a cow has also taught and supported the beneficiaries in vegetable planting something that has further helped needy people a lot.
Send a cow operates on a principle of a beneficiary giving back the first female calf produced. This is done to foster sustainability and sharing. The female is given to another needy person.
If the cow gives birth to only male calves, the third calf is given back to Send a cow. This is intended to continue the chain of distributing cows amongst the poor people.
Imelta Mukantabana is another Send a cow beneficiary. A resident of Kabuga-Gasabo district says apart from the milk, her garden is fertilised by manure from the kraal. Her cow produces ten liters of milk a day, which her family consumes and the surplus is sold.
“I had never dreamt of owning an exotic cow. Life was really hard,” said the visibly enthusiastic Mukantabana.
Charles Sebaruma, Send a cow’s finance and administrative manager says the major approach in most of their interventions has been training in animal husbandry and organic farming.
“We believe that if a poor farmer has some reasonable amount of land like 2 hectares, with interest in fostering his or her farming, our support can be taken such a person to another level,” said Sebaruma.
“We don’t only give out diary cows, we also give out local goats, boar goats from South Africa for meat and dairy goats to supplement their families,” added Sebaruma.