01. January 2000
At a cattle market on the Shamalie Plain, farmers leave with their newly acquired cows, grateful and delighted to have made such a purchase. They head back to their families in the village of Sabz Sang, one of the “Hope Villages” where Shelter Now has been involved in reconstruction and development for nearly five years.
The farmers have each bought one cow. Some are pregnant, others already have their young calf in tow. The farmers got the money to buy the cows from Shelter Now in the form of a loan worth around 500 euro. They will pay back the loan after 12 months. The money can then be used for other families and new cows.
“It took over a year to work out a system working together with the villagers”, says project manager YoungHo Song, a Shelter Now staff member from South Korea. “Microcredit projects that have proved very successful with women in countries like India would not have worked in a culture like this one. So we had to meet repeatedly with the villagers and the village elders to discuss practicalities. Now we’ve finally settled on an arrangement and the contracts have been signed.”
27 cows have been bought in this first year. When the money is paid back after 12 months, it will be invested in the next families and money added to the fund so that another 60 families can buy cows. By that time, many of the calves will have been sold. In this way the large village of Sabz Sang should soon be provided for. Because the money is to be repeatedly re-invested, other villages will eventually also be able to benefit from the cow project.
A “cow committee” set up especially by the village elders is to ensure that the loans are repaid. The committee works on a voluntary basis, selecting the most needy and the most reliable families in the village. They then in turn go out and buy one cow each using our money.
Each time a cow is purchased, around 5% of the money is paid into a fund administered by the committee. This fund can be used to make up for any losses (if one of the cows dies for example). Over the years, the fund could also be used to buy new animals, allowing the village eventually to become independent from outside help. That is our express goal.
Our thanks go to “Kindernothilfe”, a German development organization for children, for sponsoring this project.