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How a cow helped a Rwandan family rebuild its life

Page history last edited by Rosemary 9 years, 1 month ago

Send a Cow Rwanda (SACR) works to eradicate extreme poverty and ensure food security for the poorest of Rwanda's subsistence farmers through social development, integrated livestock and organic agriculture and environmental protection. It works in seven Rwandan districts, with groups of poor and vulnerable farmers, mostly women, including groups of widows, orphan-headed households, those with HIV/Aids, and disabled people.

This is one of many success stories it shares on its website at http://sendacowrwanda.org/ 


Ethienne Kaberuka’s story is truly inspirational. He lives near Rwamagana, in the Eastern Province, with his wife, six of their own children and four orphans which they also care for.

During the war, their home was almost completely destroyed and Ethienne and his wife struggled to feed themselves and their ten children.

Ethienne received a cow from SACR in 2007 and his family’s life is now completely transformed. After passing on the first born female calf to another
Send a Cow farmer, Ethienne sold the second calf and bought another female in  lactation.

He then took out a loan from the bank and bought two more female cows. Now, when all four cows are in lactation, they produce around 76 litres per day.

From the money made from milk sales, Ethienne renovated his house, paid the children’s school fees, set up a rainwater harvesting system and employed a labourer to help farm the land.

Using the manure from his four cows and the skills he had learned during SACR training, he began to cultivate more land and saw his yields increase significantly, producing more than his family could ever eat. He began to sell the surplus at the market for a good profit and became a Send a Cow Peer Farmer, teaching others how to get the best from their land.


Progress recognized by government

In 2010, his tremendous progress was recognised by the Rwandan government which donated 600,000 Rwf for the family to set up a home biogas plant. Contributing 400,000 Rwf of their own money, the family installed a biogas system and their home now has a constant supply of gas for cooking and lighting.
Ethienne’s livesto
ck collection continues to expand – he has invested in goats and rabbits and is currently building a chicken house to begin farming poultry.

The original SACR cow is due to calve again this August, along with another of the females. When this happens, he hopes to be generating around 300,000 Rwf in milk sales per month. This money will come in handy as his daughter is due to be married on the 13th and of course, there must be a party!
In the future, Ethienne wants to share his skills and enthusiasm with more poor farmers and is currently constructing his own training centre where he plans to employ vets and agronomists. He will charge a small fee for cooperatives (around 1000 Rwf/head) but will provide training to vulnerable farmers (like he once was) for free.
At the entrance to his farm, next to a big cabbage crop, a wooden sign reads ‘you also can do this’.


This story comes from the website of Send A Cow Rwanda. The photos show Ethienne with the original SACR cow (top right) and the sign on his farm that reads "you can also do this'.  In February 2012, the New Agriculturist reported that the success of Send A Cow Rwanda has encouraged the Rwandan government to adopt a policy entitled "One Cow Per Poor Family", which aims to provide every poor family in Rwanda with good quality, suitable livestock by 2015, in collaboration with partners including Send a Cow Rwanda. Read that story, entitled Fighting poverty with heifers in Rwanda, here.


For other similar stories, see:

A cow, not a cup of milk: passing on the gift

Growing pineapples in Northern Uganda

Cattle restocking fights poverty, builds reconciliation in Rwanda

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