The Maasai Cow Project
The Maasai Cow Project is set up to provide cows to impoverished Maasai women. Many of these women will have been widowed or have husbands who spend the family income irresponsibly leaving them destitute. With a cow that they personally have been entrusted with by it’s owner, a woman can then become somewhat self-sufficient in milk and basic necessities from the sale of the calves. Having a cow is a huge boost to one’s status in Maasai cultures and helps to build their self esteem.
In the event of a disaster such as thieves or disease they can then call on those cows that have been loaned out and restart their herds. The arrangement is fairly common and respected by all.
The Maasai Cow Project utilises a well established cultural arrangement, where wealthy Maasai men divide their herds amongst friends and relatives for security. The Cow project permanently loan out cows to these women and as a loan this asset cannot be sold on by others, typically men, in the comunity. All Maasai know the project cows as they are branded with a clan brand and the projects personal brand. Any cows that die are replaced, once, if the woman can show the cow’s hide as proof.
The cow’s first calf is returned to the project to be loaned out the following year and all subsequent calves are the property of the woman for her to sell or keep in building up her own herd. The project is generally well received, and supported by Maasai elders, as it respects their traditions and actually helps women in being more economically self-sufficient thus keeping them from resorting to more desperate means of survival such as prostitution.
Emergency Food Aid
Providing food aid is an essential and necessary part of providing a last line of support to struggling families in the rural areas ofNorthern Tanzania. State help is limited, often badly managed and usually arrives late, only to be sold instead of given away to those in need. Rural Maasai are often poorly organised politically so they suffer first as they live in remote areas.
Although this work is necessary, efforts are made not to encourage dependency. Greater effort is made to help the Maasai become robustly self-sufficient. (With projects such as the Cow Project) However being there in a time of need and helping is a very clear way of identifying with the Maasai and showing a compassionate ear to their needs.
I hope that these two serious but worthy causes will be something you are willing to donate some money to.