I wanted to update you on the Cow Fundraiser project Cookies for Milk. Donations have been incredibly generous, more than I expected to get in a short period of time. I received $100 from my aunt, and a challenge from her to match that donation. (If you remember, my original goal was raising $100). We are a quarter there with only one cookie drive so far. I’m planning on sending cookies with Michael to his office this week and possibly pestering my office one more time before Christmas. I can’t express how much it means that you are willing to support me in my quest to help others on the opposite side of the world. I appreciate your generosity and willingness to give and I’m excited to make some more cookies for you all. For those of you donating from afar, I’ll be sending out cookies on Monday! In addition to donations, I’ve had a LOT of questions from people about this cow and I’ve added some new information for you.
Here is a little more background on the Cow:
A letter my mother-in-law Dana wrote to those who initially helped with the purchase of the cow:
Your request to be part of the decision that Harvard and I made in Rwanda to buy a cow has been heartening. As you may recall from two blog posts, John, one of Harvard’s readers, started a pre‐school named “Mana Mfasha Pour Les Enfants” (God’s help for the children) in his impoverished neighborhood. John teaches academic and social skills to young children, nutritional training for mothers (he was a cook at a hospital before starting the school), and biblical teaching for all from his own home. A soft‐spoken and deeply spiritual man, John, who in the U.S. would be considered very poor, recently had to cut in half the daily per child milk allotment because he couldn’t afford the $10 cost. This letter probably seems familiar because many similar descriptions of genuine needs come to all of us via the media or mail. For Harvard and me the experience of spending a day at the school and Harvard’s personal relationship with John made our knowledge of this need unequivocally a call to action from God. To address the cost of milk, John had dreamed of owning a dairy cow. Harvard and I are committed to making that happen. We offered information on the blog because we thought that God may have wanted some of you to have the blessing of giving to something that you could have more personal knowledge of.
We want now to give you specific information about what we have done to date as well as what needs to be done to support this project until it is self‐sustaining. Also, we believe there has been direct confirmation that we are to see this project to completion. Within two days of telling John and his family that we wanted to buy the cow, we met a South African man and his wife who now live in Kigali and are part of an organization based in the UK called Send A Cow. Found in seven African countries and partnering with Heifer International, this organization buys high quality dairy cattle for small groups of villagers and provides extensive training. The mandatory training involves sustainable animal husbandry and organic growing practices to feed the cattle and grow vegetables for their families in the enriched soil produced from their animal wastes. They also supply veterinary consultation and on‐ site visitation for 5 years.
Two days later I found myself sitting in front of Send‐a‐Cow man in church, and John, who also is a member of Christ’s Church in Rwanda, was one row in front of me. I pulled them together and filled in the communication gaps between them. Turns out, the former leader of Send a Cow in Rwanda had set up a training center on the outskirts of Kigali to broaden training opportunities for others as well!
We left John with the money for transportation and the fees to start training in animal husbandry and organic, sustainable cultivation practices within a few weeks. This amazing non‐coincidence has strengthened our commitment and allows us to leave John with the source of knowledge and support he will need as he transitions his family and school . The day we left to come home, the Send –a‐Cow man told me in church, “You do not fully know what this will do for this man and his family and those that he comes in contact with. It is the means to totally change their lives.” We believe it was God’s will that we put our hands to it.
Costs for purchase and care of the cow for John’s family until after the birth of the first calf:
1. The high quality dairy cow will give up to 15 liters of milk a day for John’s family and preschool. Often these cows
must be shipped from Uganda and like anything else in Rwanda, seem exorbitant by our standards (I paid $12 for a small
chicken in the market). The cow will cost $800‐$1200.
But, before we wire him the money to purchase the cow, John needs to:
2. Finish his training at the center – $80/week for up to 3 weeks (we paid for the first week)
3. Purchase land for the cow shelter down the hill from his home – $200
4. He has contacted us “about my suggestion for that small land to plan the glass [plant the grass] and barn for the cow
those are to big things we suppose to have before buying the cow. Accept I can try to pay that cowboy to help to feed
the cow but after i can not find the money to buy the glass [grass] every day that is why i suggest for you if there is in
way we can buy small property to grow the glass and to build that barn.” Thus, in order for the project to be self‐
sustaining, John will also need a small plot of land to grow the kind of food that helps these cattle become high yield
producers – $200
5. “Accept that we will have the money to pay the cowboy [John is saying he will pay for help to take care of the cow].
That men will going only to take care the cow, and to get the glass from the land.” He could afford this but will have to
pay this with no additional income from the cow for at least 10 months (the gestational cycle and early feeding of the
first calf before milk can be used for human consumption). Once the cow starts producing milk, John can pay for the
caretaker since he will no longer have the daily expense of buying milk – $25/month for approximately 1 year
6. John investigated what he needs to build a shelter for the cow before purchasing it. “I contact also the people how
have the cows down in valle, the told for to have barn you suppose to have like 120 woods, some blanch or sheets,
some ciments [cement] to put down to prived [prevent] the cow to get dirty and to prive [prevent] the problems of
120×2000 [Rwandan Francs] to buy the woods = $200
nails 6kg x2000= $ 30
ironsheets to make the loof [roof], one is 4500x 20= $150
the payement for somebody to help building it =$100
the cost for having the good barn in total is coming like 200 dollars +30 dollars+150 dollars+100 dollars. the total is
almost 500 dollrs
Thus the total cost to get John and his family started with the dairy cow is between $2060 – $2620.
I know it’s a bit hard to read John’s writing but hopefully this has given you a deeper glimpse into John’s needs. I also haven’t answered the question that we Americans are so obsessed with, “What is the cow’s name?” but I’ll see what we can do to find out if she has a name. If you want to make a donation but don’t live in San Francisco feel free to leave a comment below and I will send instructions on making a payment via paypal. You’ll also get some cookies in return by mail!
Again, we are attempting to help John with maintenance costs for his cow that produces good milk for the kids at Mana Mfasha Pour Les Enfants (God’s Help for the Children) and I am thankful for you interest and support. Even if you can’t support financially, words of encouragement are always welcome!