Fondazione Marcegaglia has been working since 2013 in Rwanda in the district of Bugesera, in the eastern province of Rwanda where the population often has to deal with the problem of drought and the consequent famines and where many women, who have been widows due to the genocide, have to support entire families on their own. In this context, Fondazione Marcegaglia has decided to work directly, thanks to the presence of some Rwandan representatives responsible for managing the project on site, and in close collaboration with local institutions such as the Rwanda Agriculture Board and the District of Bugesera. The idea was to fit into pre-existing government programs that could have a real impact on the population without imposing interventions lowered from the outside.
The first step was to embrace an enlightened government program “One cow for poor family” (a cow for every poor family) designed to support the most vulnerable sections of the population by promoting traditional economic activity: breeding. Given the validity of this program, in 2013 Fondazione Marcegaglia decided to implement it in one of the poorest areas of the country, the district of Bugesera and in particular in the village of Rilima. The intent of the Foundation, however, was to make the intervention more effective in the long term by selecting women from all possible recipients, for their reliability and entrepreneurial propensity, and adding to the donation of a pregnant cow other collateral interventions such as training, the accompaniment of the veterinarian, the donation of goats and the start of vegetable gardens.
The first 20 beneficiaries of the “One Cow” project were immediately joined by 50 other women with the “Three Goats” project which provided for the donation of 3 goats to the beneficiaries who did not have enough land to keep the cow. The positive effect of the project was evident already after a few months: thanks to the milk produced, women improved the nutrition of their families and started a small income-generating activity in order to pay for health insurance, send children to school and live with dignity. From 2013 to 2020 488 families entered the project, but this number is constantly evolving because the calves born will be sold to other women thus creating a virtuous circle of development.
Some of the beneficiary women also gathered in a cooperative not only to meet and support each other but also to start other income-generating activities such as the production of artisan paintings and agricultural activities. Currently the Abizeranye cooperative is made up of 22 women who are also committed to supporting the weakest people in the community by paying health insurance to poor families and distributing the milk produced to combat child malnutrition.
The success of the One Cow project in activating the entrepreneurial skills of women has been possible over the years and at the same time enhanced by other well-rounded interventions of the Rilima community with an integrated and holistic approach that has made it possible to achieve considerable development goals and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Support the Rilima community in Rwanda with us and help us expand the project to new beneficiaries. With your donation we will be able to support the children welcomed in the Early Childhood Center with educational material, food and clothes; we will be able to give scholarships to other deserving young people, to give cows and goats to other women with their families.