Rwanda : 45 cows donated in Nyaruguru district
Members of Igiti cy’Ubugingo (literally “the tree of life”), a Butare Catholic Diocese-backed charity, on Thursday donated 45 cows to 15 cooperatives of HIV/AIDS-positive people and other vulnerable groups in Nyaruguru district, Southern Rwanda, to help them combat malnutrition and enhance their economic status.
The mainly black and white skinned cows – of an improved race – cost an estimated Rwf 440,000 each, and have been distributed in five of Nyaruguru’s 14 sectors, namely Ngera, Ngoma, Nyagisozi, Cyahinda and Munini – each sector getting 9 cows.
Veterinary sources in Ngera sector attest that each cow can produce eight to ten liters of milk per day, each liter costing an average Rwf 200 in a rural area like Nyaruguru district and the price likely to increase once shipped to towns.
“I am very happy for this cow”, said 51-year-old Joséphine Uwodusaba, an accountant in the 20-member “Ejo heza” (or “Bright Future”) cooperative, located in Bitare cell of Ngera sector – as she pointed to one of the three cows donated to her agriculture cooperative.
“They [cows] will help us get manure for our agriculture, we will get money through milk-selling and our children will enjoy a healthy life through drinking milk”, Uwodusaba said, adding that her cooperative had already grown hectares of elephant grass for the freshly-received cows to graze on.
Other cooperatives that received cows in Ngera sector are “Turengere Ubuzima” (or “Let’s Save Life) in Yaramba cell and “Duharanire Ubuzima” (or “Let’s Fight for Life”) operating in Murama cell – each cooperative receiving three cows as well.
Angélique Nireberaho, deputy Mayor in charge of social affairs in Nyaruguru district, was equally delighted.
“A household owning a cow is a household indeed. And the most important cattle one can dream of owning [in Rwanda] is none other than a cow”, said deputy Mayor Nireberaho, addressing an estimated 50-people gathering at Ngera sector headquarters, where the cow-donating ceremony was officially held.
Deputy Mayor Nireberaho further said that the cows’ donation is also “good news” because it matches the country’s prevailing “one cow per family” policy, locally known as “Gira inka” or “Own a cow” – an initiative by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, broadly to help Rwandans combat malnutrition and poverty through milk and manure supply.
This is not the first time Igiti cy’Ubugingo charity has handed over cows to vulnerable families in Nyaruguru district.
Last fall, in November 2011, the same charity distributed 33 cows and 36 pigs to 15 other different cooperatives across Ngera, Nyagisozi, Cyahinda, Ngoma and Munini sectors.
According to Sister Marie Vénantie Nyirabaganwa, coordinator of the charity, the same as local leaders help identify the needy families (grouped in cooperatives) to benefit from cattle donation, they should still do the same in their joint efforts to make sure that cows are still cared for even afterwards.
The Butare Catholic Diocese started the Igiti cy’Ubugingo charity in 2000 to both provide counseling to traumatized widow Genocide survivors as a result of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and for counseling assistance to the then prostitutes in Tumba sector (in neighbouring town district of Huye) – preaching the latter that there is another way of making a living apart from through prostitution.
Since May 2011, Igiti cy’Ubugingo has been working with its new partner, The Global Fund − a local NGO that works in the field of aiding those living with HIV/AIDS, among others.