Send a Cow

9 years ago

There is an uplifting story
in the UK newspaper The Times about the 20th anniversary of "Send a
Cow".  The program sent live, pregnant cows to Africa as a way to
alleviate hunger and poverty and foster independence. The author, an
inaugural contributor 20 years ago, went to see if allegations that the
program was keeping Africa poor, were true or not.

Some unique and key aspects make this program more than just a "throw money at it" charity:

  • The cows (and their resulting income) are the property of the women in the family,

    we find that if the profit from the milk goes to the
    woman, it will end up back with the family. With the men, we couldn't
    be quite so certain.

  • The first calf of each gift-cow must be given to a new family, who
    in turn must gift the first calf of that cow.  In Rwanda, a calf born
    to a Hutu must be given to a Tutsi family

Still, there have been opponents.

Environmentalists argue that the entire scheme is
unsound because not only are bovines poor converters of food, but cows
frequently break wind and emit damaging methane. But an independent
carbon audit of this entire cow-giving process, gas and all, including
the huge amount of fertility returned to the soil, has shown it to be
so carbon-friendly that they're practically in love with it. This,
fortunately, spares Send a Cow an embarrassing encounter with the
redoubtable Mrs Kibuuka where it says: “Sorry, your six kids will not
be going to school after all because your cow farts too much.”

Send a Cow is still an active organization.  Also check out another of my favorite charities, Heifer International .  [p.s.  why not give a cow, sheep or goat as a gift in the name of that hard-to-buy-for person?]

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