Last month Rob Grimes, Head of Partnerships at Send a Cow, travelled to the Rakai region of Uganda to show a small group of supporters how they’ve helped create and transform opportunities for local people.

As part of our trip, we visited a local community we believed could benefit from working with Send a Cow. As a charity, we’re committed to helping the most vulnerable and impoverished people in society and visits like this are essential for identifying those that we could be supporting in the future.

To our surprise a local leader had gathered a group of around 300 children and their 50 (or so) carers to meet us. Most of the children, who ranged from toddlers to teenagers, had lost both of their mums and dads to HIV/Aids but there were others whose parents had died as a result of tuberculosis, conflict and even malnutrition.

The group told us how they came to bring these orphans together and how they struggle to cope feeding and clothing them. One of the women told us: ‘‘These are not our children…we took the responsibility of looking after these young ones and yet we are also aging. They want so much to go to school but sometimes we can’t afford it. Even feeding them at home is a big challenge. We sometimes find ourselves in a dilemma with these children because we are so old we can’t do much...’’

What struck me most about our visit was the fact that the children’s ambitions remained intact despite such difficult upbringings. They told us how they wanted to be doctors, nurses and teachers and how they dreamed of travelling.

I was also amazed by the carers themselves, many of whom were grandparents of the children. Men and women in their fifties, sixties and even seventies who found themselves looking after their children’s children. They were exhausted by the daily struggle to care and provide for them but also fuelled by their unconditional love for the youngsters.  

The Ugandan district we visited has a higher than average number of vulnerable children and orphans and worryingly, due to issues such as rapid population growth and a high HIV/AIDS rate, this number is growing. But the beautiful children we met, with their enthusiasm and hope, is what gives us faith that a confident and thriving rural Africa is possible. With enough funding, we hope to support these wonderful children and their carers in the future, and in doing so, maybe we can help make some their ambitions and dreams a reality.