Can a Cow Make a Difference in the Life of a Family?

Reporting by ChildFund Ethiopia

Yewubnesh and sons with the family cow.

As Yewubnesh finished the afternoon milking, she paused for a moment. Was it really more than two years ago that her husband Balcha had died? That had been a difficult time for her and the children. She recalled wondering how they would survive.

In the Ethiopian village of Buee, ChildFund has helped establish and train village committees to identify and help families and individuals in need in their community. At a committee’s recommendation Yewubnesh was put forward for a livelihood sponsorship, and two years ago this sponsorship arrived for the family in the form of a cow.

In Buee a month’s supply of milk — a liter of milk a day — costs approximately US$12. The cow is now producing more than 10 liters of milk each day, so Yewubnesh’s income has substantially increased.

Yewubnesh has five children with dreams of completing higher education. In Ethiopia, advanced education is made possible by the government if families can afford books, fees and the cost of living away from home at college or university.

The family’s milk cow, which last year gave birth to a calf — a heifer — has provided the necessary income for Yewubnesh to support her children in their educational pursuits.

Daughter Emebet, 20, is studying administration at a university in Addis Ababa; Alemu, 18, is now at Dila University studying economics; and son Zeneba, 17, who also has a ChildFund sponsor, is studying horticulture at Walito.

Yewubnesh’s third son Simi, 15, attends Butajira technical college, where he is studying horticulture. Her youngest son Abush, 12, attends Buee primary school.

The cow will have another calf soon, as will the heifer. So the family’s herd is steadily growing. ChildFund has provided veterinary support in the form of artificial insemination and medicines as needed for the cows.

As for her part, Yewubnesh spends considerable time collecting forage for the two animals. Additional feed for her prized cows costs about US$20 each year. Yet, she goes about the morning and evening milking with the comforting knowledge that the family’s income is secure and her children’s futures now look brighter than she thought possible just a few short years ago.

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