Title: Cow Brings Better Life To Orphans in Uganda

Word Count:
349

Summary:
Geofrey Okello of Uganda was just 14 in 1998 when AIDS turned his life upside down. That was when his father died, leaving Geofrey, his mother and five siblings to fend for themselves.

Keywords:
Cow Brings Better Life To Orphans in Uganda

Article Body:
Geofrey Okello of Uganda was just 14 in 1998 when AIDS turned his life upside down. That was when his father died, leaving Geofrey, his mother and five siblings to fend for themselves.

His mother did the best she could but she too was sick. When she died in 2002, Geofrey, then 18, found himself to be the sole provider for his family. He had to quit college and return home to care for his brothers and sisters in the village of Jinja Wailaka.

The family often went to bed hungry as Geofrey scratched out a meager living selling corn and charcoal at the side of the road. Then a neighbor invited him to a meeting to hear about how Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that provides livestock and agricultural training, helps people become self-reliant.

Geofrey seized the opportunity and worked hard to learn how to care for the dairy cow that Heifer promised to deliver when he had completed his training. He built a cowshed, fenced in the yard to create a garden and planted native trees and grasses that were not only good for the environment but would provide fodder for the cow.

Last year, Geofrey received a cow, which he named Margaret, after his mother.

“My mother provided us life and did all she could for a better future. Now my cow provides this gift of life for us,” he said.

His small yard has changed from hard-packed red clay to fertile plots of organic squash, greens, beans, papayas, bananas and other fruits, which he learned to grow through Heifer International training. He prides himself on his immaculately clean cowshed and the four gallons of rich milk that Margaret can produce in a day.

He pays his siblings’ school tuition with income he earns from selling milk and now believes someday he too will reach his dream of getting a diploma.

“There are others just like me because the AIDS epidemic goes on,” he said. “Soon I will pass on a calf. In Heifer’s plan, everyone that receives training and an animal gives this gift to another family in need.”

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