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Have you heard of the charity Send a Cow? It does conjure up a picture, doesn't it.
It aims to create a confident and thriving Africa, to give people hope to secure their futures from the land. A Christian charity set up 28 years ago, it provides more than economic aid and came about when Archbishop Livingstone visited the UK at the time of EU milk quotas, milk lakes and butter mountains, food just going to waste.
West country farmers got together to send cattle. Cash is raised here and there are 25 African staff employed who locate the farmers in need and buy the livestock, give training and hope. Countries supported in varying ways dependent on their needs are Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and Lesotho. In particular help is given to women's groups, AIDs orphans and the disabled.
In Uganda, once a concrete yard and shelter is constructed and forage is grown, those in need will receive a productive type of cow that will produce 10 times the volume of milk of the African ones - 4.5 litres would go to the calf, 2 litres to the home and the remaining 3.5 litres can be sold. Fantastically, the money pays for a mattress, schooling, growing vegetables or oranges and the manure, which is collected in a pit, is used with bag gardens or keyhole gardens - piles of stones with soil and grass on top with a funnel in the middle for the manure - to produce more vegetables which can also be sold. As part of the deal, when the cows calve, the first female calf has to be given to another family but they can then keep the others. Goats, chickens, oxen and rabbits are also provided.
In Ethiopia, no cows are handed out due to the conditions. Instead, goats, sheep, chickens, hand tools, handcarts, watering cans, vegetable seeds, fruit saplings, water pumps and training are provided.
Ethiopia is a scenic place, all land higher than Ben Nevis and despite being twice the size of France, has a population of 90 million. False bananas, which don't produce bananas, are grown for their tubers.
The training is a vital part of the help given with advice on vegetable growing, soil and water conservation, composting, record and bookkeeping, saving and credit, animal husbandry, stationery, gender equality, health hygiene, sanitation and how to work as a group.
Send a Cow is recognised for its good work and receives grants by the UK Government, Tear Fund, Big Lottery Fund, USA Heifer Project and Brooke Animal Hospital.
The best bit about the help given is that not only does the recipient reap a better way of life but also others in the community can see the benefits of farming/vegetable growing in the ways advised and follow suit enhancing life for the entire community and giving hope to others.
This was a very inspiring talk and just shows what you can do to help others help themselves.
For more information or to donate, have a look at this website.