In April, Send a Cow board members, trustees and staff met in Kenya to discuss Send a Cow's plans for future growth. Simon Doherty who is a trustee, a member of the UK board and a volunteer Ambassador reflects on the visit, and his journey with Send a Cow.

The first time I visited Africa I was a fairly new Ambassador for Send a Cow. Ambassadors are dedicated volunteers who give talks to schools, churches and groups in their community about Send a Cow’s work, fundraising and increasing awareness.

As a veterinary surgeon with a keen interest in global livestock health, welfare and preventative medicine – and in particular the design of new and improved vaccines for farm animals and aquaculture – I had a natural affinity with the work of Send a Cow. I now provide strategic technical and veterinary support to a number of their initiatives.
One of the things Send a Cow does well is make really good resources available to Ambassadors to help us spread the message – but having your own stories to tell is much more powerful.

Simon Doherty Ethiopia

   Simon on his first trip to Africa as part of the Ethiopia study tour, 2013

That was why I decided to go on my first African trip, which was a study tour to Ethiopia in November 2013. There’s an excitement in seeing it for the first time – you pinch yourself to ensure that you really are there. I initially felt very self-centred – I wanted to learn everything to take as much away from the experience as I could.

Nothing beats seeing a project first hand and meeting the local people. The experience was so rich that I’m still finding new ways to talk about it.

Rather than feeling satisfied with my Send a Cow knowledge, I was hungrier than ever. Over the next 16 months my work with the charity increased. I continued telling the story, raised money by doing Live Below the Line, became a trustee and am now a UK Board member.

Kenyan children play football

   Children in one of the villages we visited playing football

The speed of growth of my own personal involvement is representative of the climate of change surrounding Send a Cow. An ambitious growth plan has been set out by the new CEO, Simon Barnes. It’s an exciting journey, which we’re all a part of.

That was one of the purposes of my recent trip to Kenya, my second African trip with Send a Cow. The trustees, UK & Group Boards and African Country Directors attended a series of meetings at the Ronda Retreat Centre to discuss growth, moving forward and our structure.

It was a great opportunity to bring everyone together so we could look at how it all worked and really analyse the Send a Cow approach.

There were lots of fruitful conversations and ideas sparked from one another. We reviewed the potential impact that could be achieved in a five year growth plan, which produced a nervous excitement that every one of us felt.

 Kenyan community welcome their visitors

    We received a warm welcome from all the communities we visited

The second purpose of the trip was to take part in two field visits. For some of the members of our group it was their first time seeing the work of Send a Cow in the field, so it was wonderful for me to witness that fresh perspective and hungry excitement in other people’s eyes.

The reality is that Send a Cow is making people’s lives better. That’s why we do this.

The first significant rain of the season came during the last few days of an exhausting week, and as I watched the dry land drink it up, I felt revitalised. The energy I have for Send a Cow is stronger than ever, or at least it will be after I’ve had a rest!

If you're interested in becoming an Ambassador for Send a Cow, why not find out more?