Cow Project Part 2

When I was in Uganda two years ago I learned about a program that Call to Africa had just recently started whereby they were delivering a couple in-calf cows to a few different Ugandans that they knew could really benefit from the milk production as well as the opportunity to use the new calf to pay it forward or provide future, ongoing reproduction. I was really impressed by this self-sustain idea and coined it the #cowproject. I explain more about this in my original blog post about the cow project here.

The story gained some international attention which resulted in many of YOU folks giving toward more cows. I went out on the road about a year later on a Great Lakes trip to raise money for 1 cow. The generosity of my friends and readers led to several cows being delivered last year during a trip that I was, quite sadly, not able to go on due to some serious health issues I was having at the time. But, my friend Alicia Ellis was able to go with a new CTA team, and she was able to work with Joseph to deliver all of the cows, each going to a different location across the magnificent Ugandan countryside.

Because the cows are scattered across Uganda, I was not able to follow up with all of them on this trip where we are doing all of our work in Eastern Uganda only. So far to go, so little time! However, I did cover the story of one Cow Project cow here in a previous blog post. And….I had the awesome privilege of shooting the delivery of a new in-calf cow to a Christian pastor and his family in the village of Mbeko. I can tell you from first-hand experience that Reuben and his sweet wife and their 5 children are extremely grateful for the generosity. Reuben and his wife are generous folks themselves, even though they have so little. They will be able to use the milk that comes in due time for not only their family but also for others in their village.

Delivery of the cow to her new home in Mbeko

During the delivery of the cow to her new home, Joseph and Samuel, both veterinarians, were able to provide Reuben with a care kit of essential supplies to keep the cow healthy, especially as she delivers a new calf in about 3 months’ time. The care kit, the in-calf cow, and the pickup/delivery costs are included in the cow project price for a single cow. On behalf of Reuben and his family, I want to thank all of you for your generosity as the Cow Project continues to bless people in Uganda and creates an opportunity to teach people about farm animal management and self-sustaining capabilities. 

It was truly a pleasure to see Papa Joseph again (the name my daughter, Halla, gave him when she was here with me two years ago). Joseph is such a kind and generous man, sharing his extensive knowledge freely. He traveled some distance from his village of Mbarara on the western side of Uganda to come to us here in Jinja area to shop for and select the best cows and arrange the deliveries and care kits. He does so much!

Samuel getting her to her pen
Reuben and Samuel getting the cow settled in her “barn”
Is this my new home?

It is important that you understand we mzungus (white people) cannot be a part of the actual shopping for or buying of cows and supplies as the prices will automatically double (or more!) when mzungus become involved in a business transaction. Mzungus are “rich,” you see. At least by Ugandan standards. And they are also willing (and maybe ignorant enough) to pay the outrageously escalated prices. CTA relies heavily on some trusted and savvy Ugandan men to arrange these transactions to get the best prices possible as well as the best selections. We could not do what we do without them!

On the trip to deliver this particular cow it was my first time meeting Samuel. I am so impressed with this young man! And I want all of you to know, to really get this…..Samuel is a perfect example of what CAN result when a good education is available in Uganda as I had hoped to convey in my earlier post “When the Numbers Don’t Add Up.” 

Samuel and Joseph explaining the care kit

Samuel was a student at Good Shepherd school during his earlier years. After completing his education there, he went on to secondary school or high school and then on to college, ultimately graduating from veterinary school. His education was sponsored by a generous man in the US who paid the tuition that Samuel’s family could not pay when his father died. I can assure you he is putting that education to good use! And because he lives nearby to the village of Mbeko where this particular cow is now living, he will be able to check in and provide on-going vet care as needed. He volunteered his time to come with us and begin the initial process of educating Reuben on cow care for the coming months.

Samuel is just one example of many who are using their education to give back to their fellow countrymen, and, one by one, are making a difference that will become more evident in generations to come. I am excited to be some small part of this, even if it is by simply taking photos. 

Thank you, again, to all who have so kindly given toward the Cow Project. It is making a difference. I have seen the tears flow from eyes filled with extreme gratitude.

PS. Two more cows will be delivered in the coming days. One of them is going to Dbembe Orphanage which I will tell you about in an upcoming post.

4 of Reuben’s children that wanted mzungu Danelle to take their photo (even though the youngest couldn’t stop giggling)
Reuben, Ken, Samuel, and Joseph

When the Numbers Don’t Add Up

On our first day in Jinja we were joined by Ken Galyean, the founder of Call to Africa, and the rest of the team that had just flown in and were, themselves, trying to recover from the flight over. We were now 19 people strong, ready to go, do, and give however we could to best meet the needs presented to us.

During the drive to our first stop, Good Shepherd school, I was reacquainting myself to a culture and a landscape I had discovered during my earlier trip that is so different from the American culture and landscape I have known all my life. I was reminded of so many things I take for granted, things I am so familiar with that I feel, if I am honest, that I am entitled to them. Yes, my WiFi should always work and be super fast and my venti-sized lattes should always be hot and made just the way I like them and ready within the 4-9 minute as-promised window on the Starbucks app. And my roads should never have potholes and the house never get too hot or my car never be without refreshing and comfortable air-conditioning. What would I ever do without Amazon prime and its near-instant delivery to my doorstep of all the many items I want but do not really need? And my bank account should always have at least some money in it.

At a bare minimum, these are my necessities and entitlements. I am ashamed to say this is true more times than it is not. It is the culture I live in and often the attitude of many fellow citizens. It cannot be denied because just today I saw tell-tale signs of this on Facebook. If we’re being honest.

I just visited a school here in Uganda that is currently educating some 550 children. There have been 700 students here at one time. Education in Uganda is not free like it is in the primary years in America. So there are children that do not go to school simply because their parents cannot afford it. Their floors are dirt floors, they have no cars, they fetch water from the well down the road and carry it on their heads several times a day to do the washing that needs to be done. There is no electricity in their homes.

I can tell you one thing for certain; I would not be here typing on my Mac computer in Uganda beside the Nile River if I had never been to school. If I could not read or write or add up numbers so that I could discern how to live on a budget or start a business from scratch, I would not be living the life I am living. It is hard for me to grasp what it would be like to not read or write or understand how history has shaped my world or be able to figure out the missing variable in a simple equation so that I can find the solution to just about any problem. I am a business owner and an inventor. None of that would be my reality if I had never received an education. What is an education worth?

Well here in Jinja, Uganda at Good Shepherd school it is worth everything when you have nothing. It is the thing that will equip and empower a generation to build new things, and overcome government corruption, and put clean, running water in homes. It is priceless. And yet, for some it is still unattainable. Too many children cannot read or write or add up numbers.

At Good Shepherd school, approximately 50% of the 550 students have their tuition costs covered by their parents (roughly 275 students).

Another 25% (approximately 137 students) have a portion of their tuition costs covered by their parents.

And the remaining 25% (roughly 137) are unable to pay anything at all.

One of the sweet girls at Good Shepherd school.

The staff at Good Shepherd have gone without to make up for the lost tuition so these students could continue being educated. The meals for the children are minimized to smaller portions and become rice with beans when tuition cannot be paid. Stretching a schilling (or a dollar) has become an art so that children can receive a priceless education. But this cannot continue for long. Those who cannot afford will not get an education.

The cost for one single child to attend school is about $150 per semester. There are 3 semesters in their school year which makes the total for one child per year $450. Some of these children live in dormitories and eat every meal on campus, while some go home to their families after school each afternoon.

I spoke with Lillian, the burser (treasurer) of Good Shepherd school and learned of this incredible need for tuition costs to be covered for these 130-some children that will not receive an education unless someone steps up.

If you want to help change the future of one of these little ones, you can join me in this endeavor. If we all gave up a coffee for one day a week or even one day a month it really could change a life, because the numbers add up when we all pitch in just a little. After meeting literally hundreds of these children and spending some time in Uganda on two different occasions, I can attest to the incredible impact that this does make for a child, a family, and the future of a nation.

boys at Good Shepherd school
Some of the boys that need tuition covered so they can stay in school #changealife

This evening, before I finished this post, I had the pleasure of meeting with three young men who have a vision to work together on a large project using their skills with computers, websites, digital marketing, and ministry. We had a bit of a jam-session to talk about ways in which they can best make their vision come to life. It was exciting for me to see them become excited over the potential that lies ahead for them. And our meeting was a reminder to me, yet again, of the incredible value of an education.

Anyone that feels compelled to help with a child’s tuition can do so by giving directly to Call to Africa, a non-profit organization that can get the money directly to Good Shepherd school and into the right hands. Every single dollar of a donation or sponsorship for tuition except for the credit card transaction fee will go to Uganda for this specific purpose.

I am so incredibly thankful to have received an education. I am thankful I can read, write, and add up numbers. I cannot imagine a life any different.


PS. Check out the school for the little ones at Sangaalo that I wrote about on my last visit to Uganda here.