On a recent trip to Rwanda and Burundi, two of our UK staff members, Anna and Karen, had the opportunity to visit some of the projects and meet farmers working with Send a Cow. Here, Anna shares her experiences and reflections.

In both Rwanda and Burundi, there were a number of wonderful things that stood out to me. I really noticed how great the communications and relationships are between the local government and Send a Cow teams and projects which are maintained with enthusiasm by both parties. Just recently Send a Cow Rwanda was awarded a certificate of honour from the local government in Nyanza district for the Jyambere project and its contribution to community development.

Another highlight was seeing how far the impact of Send a Cow’s work travels. There’s a ripple effect that comes from our training and support, positively impacting on agriculture, nutrition, health, hygiene, income, homes and communities.

This diverse range of positive effects was particularly impressive in Burundi’s Mwaro Province. One of their groups was named Dubkoranishaka, meaning “work with zeal” – and they really lived up to their name! Among other things, they now have goats and pigs; extended cropping systems; a savings and loans association; improved health and insurance; a newly-constructed potato store and crop diversity. Equally impressive was the warm, colourful and enthusiastic welcome they offered us.

I noticed that the atmosphere in Burundi was calmer than on my last visit – there has been political unrest in the country for a number of years. It was, however, unfortunate to see that Rwanda is suffering from a recent drought which has reduced crop yields and contributed to rising poverty.

In Rwanda, we had a fabulous presentation from the Peer Farmers and Paravets groups – including some live demonstrations of their techniques such as deworming and dehorning – on trees!

This group is particularly large and were very happy to show us their new uniforms and tools. The Paravets and Peer Farmers were greatly enthusiastic to pass on their knowledge, skills, and training to other members of the community and therefore spread their positive effects.

Another Rwandan example of ‘‘passing on’’ came from Venuste Semana in the Rusenge Sector, who has already trained an amazing 35 additional people outside of his Send a Cow group!

His passion shone through in his conversation. When asked what was the most useful training he received through Send a Cow, he simply said “everything!” 

Speaking of the benefits that SAC has created, another member of the group in the Rusenge Sector, Goderiva, told us:  

“As a farmer living in this community I see other organisations coming, but Send a Cow is different because it empowers people and builds their capacity so they can do things on their own.”

It was a heartfelt comment that reinforced my belief in Send a Cow’s hand up, not hand-out approach. I left with a great sense of admiration for our farmers who, with the right support and training, have become agents of their own change.