How much can one cow help a family? It turns out in India one cow can do a lot of good.
The Lake Mills Rotary Club started the Rotary cow project 15 years ago. The project has helped a remote village in Goregaon, India by donating cows to families. The original project was for 27 cows costing around $30,000.
Dr. Wahab Kazi a former Lake Mills Rotary member, discussed the project with Rotary members July 20.
Since 2007, Dr Kazi has contributed three cows per year. Now the total project is up to around 47 cows. Dr Kazi's wife conceived the idea to donate a cow instead of the typical toys for kids as a way to provide a sustaining and lasting donation. Families who received a cow were carefully selected. The recipients had to meet certain requirements, including providing a small shed area for the cow to be housed. In some cases, the family who owns the cow lives in the same building as the cow, separated by only a wall.
“Once they get the cow there were conditions they had to follow,” Kazi said. “From selling the milk they had to put 15% of the income into a savings account so that in a year or two that money would be saved to buy another cow that would be their responsibility.”
A Rotarian from the Indian Rotary Club visits once per year to check on the operation. A vet also visits the cow every month.
“Some of the conditions, how they’ve improved in the last 10 years is amazing. I’ve been visiting them every year since then and some of the stories, the Lake Mills Rotary Club has become famous to them,” Kazi said.
Ed Heimstreet, Rotary member, who has been working on the project since the beginning said that the funding for the project took longer than expected because of the downturn in the economy in 2008.
“It took months of going between India and us to complete the paperwork,” Heimstreet said.
The milk produced by the cows provide a steady income for the families. Cow pies are made from the manure and are used as fire starters and an additional source of income. In one example, the income from the cow covered the cost of a C-section, which would have been financially devastating to the family, without the cow. Other benefits have included paying for education for the children of the family.
“You guys contributed all that money and started the project and it’s amazing. It’s wonderful to see the results,” Kazi said.
Kazi introduced a new project in the area focused on correcting Goregaon’s water issue. The village has its own water supply, but it runs on electricity. The increasing population has caused high power bills. The Goregaon Rotary Club is planning to set up a solar power system to power a pump house and filtration plant. The project will solve the issue of interrupted supply of safe, portable water in an environmentally friendly manner by reducing conventional electricity by almost 50%. It will also free up scarce government resources of the local government for other welfare programs. The project is estimated to cost about $100,000. The Goregaon Rotary Club is hoping clubs from the U.S. can contribute $25,000 to the cause.
“The cow project is wonderful, but it is individual, this project is more community based for the whole community,” Kazi said.
There is also a recycling project going on there, because there is a major plastic waste problem in the area.
“I was going to contribute more money to the cow project, but I thought I would contribute to this project. I will be donating about $1,000 to this project through your club,” Kazi said. “The cow project has made a big difference in that small village.”
“These projects can make a huge impact on the quality of life for these people,” Heimstreet said.