On a Rotary Friendship Exchange Programme PDG Robert Macdonald from RC West Springfield, RID 7890, USA, and his spouse visited Shimoga last year and met the beneficiaries of RC Shimoga’s cow donation project. A teary-eyed villager Pallavi told the visitors how she reared a herd of four cows with the help of this Rotary initiative and that her income has been steadily growing ever since. Another beneficiary Jagannath spoke of being able to send his son to school with the money he made because of the cow gifted by the club to his wife. PDG Macdonald returned home and shared these success stories at his club meet. As a result, his club supported RC Shimoga, RID 3182, in four out of six global grants for the same project.
In collaboration with RC Ripponpet, RID 3182; TRF and RC West Springfield, the club gifted 73 hybrid milch cows to underprivileged families in villages near Ripponpet and Shimoga. “The project aims at poverty alleviation by providing self-employment to women from poor economic background. This project has improved the standard of living in these families,” says club president Suneetha Sreedhar who initiated this project. The cows were handed over to the beneficiaries in the presence of DG Rajarama Bhat and PDG B N Ramesh, after a traditional go pooja (ceremonial worshipping of the cows).
To date over 500 families have benefitted from the popularly known ‘cow project’ which is worth ₹30 lakh. These cows have been christened ‘Rotary Cows,’ she quips. The beneficiaries were chosen after ascertaining their knowledge in cow rearing. “We also ensured that they could give the bovine a simple shelter and enough water. They were also urged to take insurance for their cows against accidents and illnesses,” says Suneetha. The local Rotary clubs have also entered into an MOU with the local government’s animal husbandry department to organise free veterinary services like immunisation, treatment and artificial insemination. The beneficiaries received hands-on training by veterinarians before taking their cow home.
The beneficiaries assured the Rotarians that they would take good care of the cows and not sell them off for the next three years. The Rotarians also took “a special commitment from them to donate the first-calf heifer to a suitable beneficiary under our guidance. This will enable us to support more poor families and perpetuate the project,” smiles Suneetha.