The Gift of a Cow
I met her outside her thatched hut in Papoli, Uganda and we sat under a tree for shade. She was a widow and was caring for her six children alone. Most often, women who become widowed will leave their children to go off and look for another man. But this mother stayed in her village and tried her best to feed her family. In a good year, she could scrape enough food from the garden and the generosity of her neighbors to keep going. In a drought year, the children might go hungry. Then she was given a young heifer through a program called Christmas in Africa. Each year, Village Partners International sponsors an alternative to purchasing traditional gifts where supporters can purchase gift vouchers in honor of friends and loved ones. Someone, somewhere purchased a cow and the village leaders decided that this widow would be the recipient.
By our standards, this woman had very little. She and her children lived in a hut with an earthen floor and had no electricity or running water. But when I sat and talked with her, her face beamed with pride. In the years since she had been given the cow, it had calved twice. The first was a bull and was sold to pay for her eldest daughter to attend a teacher training course. She gave the second calf to a village orphan. This is how it works – one cow can improve the lives of many because the gift keeps giving. Before I left, the woman said that she had something to show me. She disappeared into her hut and returned with a piece of paper. It was a document stating that her daughter had been awarded a Teacher’s Certificate. What she held in her hand was her most prized possession because it represented a better future for her children. It all began with the gift of a cow.
– by Terry Leigh Deal
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Happy Holidays to All from Village Partners International