The Cork Board

“A Cow for Now” project – B.Kothakota


(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.

5 thoughts on ““A Cow for Now” project – B.Kothakota”

  1. All blessings to you both that you act on our thinking outside your house.
    Our approach is less consistent and in so doing perhaps less satisfying long term.
    Perhaps it’s time to revisit our future giving.
    We were about to donate a significant sum each year $xx,xxx to an indigenous cause, and I just thought I might do a little independent review. Turns out they were using old data and photos, spinning an old situation.
    Very sad and amazingly they weren’t the least embarrassed by my finding when it was put to them face to face.

    1. Hi Mal, hope you are both well too. Good job you checked out the charity you were going contribute too. There is so much scope for being conned. We’ve known Saravan and his family for 13 years, even staying with them a short while in 2008 and he came to us in recent years. Chaithanya have been working in their community since 1992 and elsewhere on the blog you’ll find other kickstarter initiatives that we have been involved with. Interestingly, Saravan is vehemently anti-corruption and as a result some work that they had hoped to do over the years never got off the ground. You can guess why. Now, he focuses on local projects only that can provide hands on help. You can see their work here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxLsRg7lABs&t=2s You’ll have to be quick to spot Saravan but Nirmala (his wife) appears 2.44 handing out papers. Stay well, both of you.

      1. May I recommend ‘Call of the reed warbler by Charles Massy
        Reading this made my ancient mind want to come out of illness forced retirement and create an agricultural action result simulation. Fighting the thought due too a diminishing strength of ability as I age, but imagine someone will do it, if it hasn’t been done already (I mean the simulation, to guide stakeholders)
        I find the book wanders a little but the message is very strong and doable over time

      2. Thanks Mal, I’ll check it out. I’m with you on the ageing process. Happy to arrange for someone else to do things these days. Give the young’uns a chance.

  2. But we are still young.
    The wrinkles (only on the blokes of course) are just laughter lines
    & we cannt have too many of those…

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