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Gold topped gifts for Africa
Jueina with a cow
Jueina is one of those who has benefited from the Send a Cow scheme.
A unique charity set up 16 years ago by a group of mid Devon farmers has helped thousands of African families escape from poverty.

The 'Send a Cow' scheme has become a runaway success and now covers seven African countries.
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Send a Cow

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Send a Cow gives direct, practical help to poor farmers in Africa, supporting them in finding long lasting solutions to the problems of poverty and malnutrition.

Each recipient passes on their animal's first female offspring to another poor family, who will do the same. So the gifts go on multiplying indefinitely.

In most African countries, even if primary education is free, desperately poor families still have to pay for basic school items such as books, pens and paper.

Thanks to Send a Cow, even the previously unattainable dream of secondary education is becoming a reality for many families.

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Are you wondering what to buy as the perfect gift for a friend or loved one?

The livestock charity 'Send a Cow' may have the answer with a gift scheme that works in the same way as adopting a zoo animal or dolphin.

'Send a Cow' was set up in 1998 by a group of mainly West Country farmers.

The idea behind the charity is both simple and practical.

Poor African families struggling to make a living from small, worn out plots of land, are given a cow and trained to look after it.

In return they promise to give the first female calf to another poor family. The cow provides milk to drink and sell, and manure to revitalise the soil.

African boy with goat
Looking after a goat donated by the charity.

Families typically use the extra income from their animals to buy more livestock and send their children to school.

'Send a Cow' does exactly what the name suggests, said David Bragg, co-ordinator and founder member of the charity.

"We give cows and other livestock to poor families in Africa, particularly orphans and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

"A cow won't break, run out of batteries or be quietly taken back to the shop.

"What's more a cow, goat or pig will be loved year in, year out. And you can't say that about many presents."

In the 16 years since it started, 'Send a Cow' has helped thousands of people across Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Lesotho. It is now opening up new programmes in Zambia and Tanzania.

Feeding a cow
An African family feeding one of the donated cows.

The charity found that the cow scheme worked so well that it has branched out into goats, chickens and other livestock.

All the animals are bought in Africa, which saves transport costs and also boosts the local economy.

Anyone who wants to get involved can choose from a range of animals in the 'Send a Cow' catalogue.

A cow costs £750 (£75 for a share), a pair of goats costs £125 (£25 for a share) or even a hive of bees at £40 (£10 for a share).

Article first published: 12th November 2004

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