A million lives transformed
Twenty-five years ago, a plane-load of cows flew to Uganda. This year Send a Cow, a Christian charity based in Bath, is celebrating over a million lives being transformed by its work in rural Africa. One of the founding farmers, who still works for the organisation today, David Bragg, explains how it all began
In 1988, Uganda was experiencing a serious drought. At the same time, farmers like me in the UK were facing strict EU quotas and instructed to cull their livestock. So I called my peers, and together we came up with a solution: to send our own cows to Uganda, to help those in need.
I have always believed that the whole world is my neighbour; I couldn’t live on my own little island. I had asked God what He wanted me to do, and I believe this was it. Send a Cow transcends ‘loving thy neighbour’; I wanted to use my situation to help those in need.
Although the initial aim was to provide milk to the malnourished, it soon became clear that the manure from the cows was even more beneficial, as it vastly helped to improve land and increase crop yields. Send a Cow grew from there. Now Send a Cow works in seven countries in Africa; Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi and Lesotho, providing livestock sourced within Africa.
Our programmes teach a whole range of sustainable farming techniques including how to care for animals, grow food organically, and making the best use of the natural resources that people have around them. The effect of these skills is incredible – for the first time, many will eat three healthy meals a day, can afford to send their children to school, will be food secure even during droughts and heavy rains, and will have an increase in income.
The amazing thing about Send a Cow is how the transformation grows throughout communities. Through the ‘Pass it On’ principle, for every person helped, 10 more go on to benefit. This may be the sharing of livestock, where the first calf is passed on, or the sharing of knowledge and skills. Therefore, the Send a Cow philosophy is passed on through generations, and those who once begged for help, can now give their help to others – an incredibly empowering moment.
This new confidence is so special to Send a Cow – we don’t just teach people the practical skills they need to overcome poverty, we move people’s mindsets. By thinking differently, you will enable change. As Romans XII teaches us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will”.
Some of the first people to receive a cow in 1988 were Justine Kabuye’s parents. “We lived an average life with minimal beddings. We ate simple foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava and maybe potatoes.”
Justine recalls the life-changing day that her family received a cow, when she was just six years old: “I remember very well. It was about 5pm when we received our cow. We called it ‘Buyinza’ (meaning God is so gracious and all powerful). My mother cried. They told us farmers in the UK gave it to us for free and that Send a Cow would help us to learn to take care of it as the animal takes care of us. I was excited to feed it. Even me, a small girl could touch it, feed it and I also learnt to milk it!”
Now the deputy head teacher of a famous school in Kampala, Justine is the first graduate of her family: “If it was not for Send a Cow, I would not have studied beyond secondary school. I have not met a good teacher like Send a Cow. It teaches you to work hard, it teaches you to earn a living, and to live with purpose. With education, you unlock all the locks of poverty. I wish Send a Cow God’s blessings and may you touch many more lives like mine.”
Send a Cow could not have reached over a million people like Justine, or their 25th anniversary, without the fantastic support of many people here in the UK. Congregations up and down the country have joined together to support Send a Cow over its 25 years.
If you are interested in becoming involved as a volunteer or would like to book a speaker please get in touch on 01225 874222 or via the website: www.sendacow.org.uk
There are lots of other ways to get involved too: Send a Cow has a gifts catalogue, where you can send anything from a chicken to providing water. There are also resources available for church use – including the Prayer Lifeline magazine and Harvest packs.