The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, paid a special visit to smallholder farmers who are transforming their lives with the help of UK Christian charity, Send a Cow, whilst on a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Lesotho as part of the Diocese of Durham link project.
Accompanied by the charityâ€™s staff, including Country Director Manthethe Moipone Monethi, Bishop Paul took time out of his 10-day trip to visit the village of Berea located in the North West of the country along with his wife Rosemary. There he was able to see Send a Cowâ€™s projects first-hand and to meet some of the people who are benefitting from its programme of agricultural training and support.
Nicknamed â€˜Kingdom in the Skyâ€™ due to its mountainous terrain and the fact that it lies over 4000 feet above sea level, Lesotho is a landlocked country which is completely surrounded by South Africa. Â Whilst there, Bishop Paul met local people who hosted him and gave him a tour of their farms and shared with him some of their successes and stories.
Among the people Bishop Paul met was 58-year-old Morakabi Morakabi. Once living in extreme poverty and struggling to feed his family, Morakabi now grows his own produce and tends to his cows, sheep and chickens, thanks to Send a Cow training and support. This is not only enough to keep his family nourished, but also provides them with a valuable income from the sale of his produce.
Speaking of his visit, Bishop Paul said: â€œIt was a privilege to visit during which we saw the wide range of work that is improving the lives of rural families in this mountain nation.
â€œSome of the highlights of the visit included being shown the innovative keyhole gardens, use of various ‘bedding’ techniques, crop diversification, fuel saving stoves and animal husbandry.
Picture Supplied By: Send A Cowâ€œThe families spoke of how their health had improved, children are able to attend both primary and secondary school and how, by working together in an association, the community life has been enhanced.
â€œThere was such delight and joy as the people explained their farming and lives to us. It was a terrific visit. Clearly Send a Cow is doing a brilliant job in these communities. Their staff were informative, insightful, friendly and hugely positive about their work.â€
An estimated 58% of the population in Lesotho live below the poverty line. It’s been a particularly tough year for its citizens as the country remains in the grip of a sustained and punishing drought which some forecast lasting until March 2016. But equipped with the knowledge and skills passed onto them through Send a Cow, farmers in the charityâ€™s programmes are doing well and still have vegetables growing in their gardens. Â
Country Director, Manthethe said: â€˜â€˜We were thrilled to have Bishop Paul visiting us and we all gave him a very warm â€˜Lesotho welcomeâ€™. The farmers we work with are very proud of what they have achieved since working with Send a Cow and were delighted to show him around their farms. It was a wonderful visit and I hope Bishop Paul enjoyed his first trip to the Kingdom in the Sky!â€™â€™
Send a Cow Chief Executive, Reverend Simon Barnes added: â€˜â€˜Send a Cow was founded by Christian farmers almost 30 years ago and we have always relied on support from the church. Bishop Paulâ€™s visit also coincides with our largest every fundraising appeal, Planting Hope. Time and again, our programme which offers training, seeds, livestock and support, enables poor farmers to lift themselves and their families out of poverty for good. Itâ€™s a formula which we know works and with appeals like Planting Hope, we hope to reach out to even more people across Africa. Better still, the government is matching all donations until 31 December which means peopleâ€™s money goes twice as far!â€™
Send a Cow works across seven countries in Africa and has helped over 1.3 million people since it was established almost 30 years ago. To find out more visit www.sendacow.org