(The “Official” Post – with more details.)
In 2008 Mrs.Monkey found herself with a lot of time on her hands courtesy of a redundancy package. To that point, having done school, uni, jobs and career, she hadn’t done the “gap year” thing. So what better time to take a gap year but in your 30s? It was during this time that she spent 5 months in India where our relationship with Chaithanya in B.Kothakota, Andhra Pradesh began and has been ongoing ever since.
We had been gifted a charity donation at the time – Fi was working in local schools and with Chaithanya – and so we agreed with Chai that the best use of the donation was to buy cows for widows in order to give the women some stability of income and an asset for the future. It was an immediate impact initiative for the ladies and their families.
Saravan hands over one of the first ones this year.
In 2021, as India wrestles with the dark forces of Covid, we decided, with Saravan and his family from Chaithanya, to do it again, and launch our “A Cow for Now” project.
Local rural environments have moved on in the intervening years and this time around, with Saravan’s advice, we have specifically chosen to buy indigenous cows rather than the cross breeds that have been favoured by farmers in the past. Jerseys will give a higher yield, but they are more expensive to maintain and prone to disease.
Indigenous cattle fit in more readily and are easy to rear. They are resistant to drought, for one thing, and though the milk yield isn’t as good, they do give the women a low-cost opportunity.
Each of the women signs an agreement to care for the cow and attend farming education meetings and group discussions. Any calves are given back to Chaithanya for passing on to others who would benefit. Milk, dung for fuel and fertiliser, and urine for use as a pesticide, are all products that will be collected and sold for the benefit of the family and local environment.
Whilst we cannot travel and visit our friends, even within our own country sometimes, we have still been able to “Zoom” over 4,912 miles (it’s that far!). The only inhibitor being our technical knowledge.
Staring at your own four walls can be challenging. Mrs.Monkey and I took the decision early on that staring at the four walls would still happen, but we would also make an effort to look to the horizon. We have our friends in India to thank for coming up with the idea and putting in the work on the ground. Fingers crossed, we have been able to help some single mothers fend for their families.
We will be looking to kick start other initiatives when circumstance allow. But who knows when that will be. Our thoughts are with everyone struggling in what must be a terrifying situation.
We just thought we’d try to spread some good news for a change.