Moo-ving on up! A heifer is a young cow that will grow up into a source of milk, cheese, fertiliser and ploughing power. Cows can also be bred and either passed on to other community members or sold for a profit.
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It began with a cow: one Afghan family’s story of development
Hukmuddin (pictured) lives in a village in the Alingar district of eastern Afghanistan with his family. For many years he didn’t have any animals or land to cultivate, so was working as a miller, grinding wheat into flour. This made little income, and even though his wife also worked, between them they didn’t make enough to cover their rent, so they always had to borrow money to get by.
Hukmuddin became involved with a project run by SERVE, a TEAR partner working in Afghanistan. As part of SERVE’s Eastern Region Community Development project, vulnerable families identified in the community are provided with a heifer (or in some cases, a goat), and also given training in milk processing, cheese making and marketing skills.
Hukmuddin’s family’s heifer eventually gave birth and they were able to get milk from their cow, which they made into cheese and sold. From the money they made, they began to slowly pay back their loans. After some time, the family was able to buy land in the village and Hukmuddin, with help from his sons, built his own home.
Hukmuddin says: “Now we are very happy, my life has changed; my dues are paid, and I have my own home and a cow! People wanted to buy my cow.. but I won’t sell it, because it is my income resource.”
Hukmuddin’s family is one of over 4500 families that have acquired livestock and benefitted through this project since it began.
Giving heifers and goats to vulnerable families is only one part of SERVE’s Eastern Region Community Development project, which has a multi-pronged approach to development. The project also implements activities like adult literacy courses and community Self-Help Groups, which meet together and access training in health, gender equity, advocacy and how to care for the environment.
About our partner – SERVE
SERVE’s guiding principle is the Afghan proverb, “Qatara qatara, darya mesha!” (“Drop by drop, a river is made.”) In a context of civil war, political and economic instability, TEAR’s partner seeks to serve the people of Afghanistan, particularly the most marginalised. Their work focuses on community development, education and vocational training for Afghans with disabilities, and public health/nutrition education.