By Aggrey Nshekanabo
In 1987, the now late Emeritus Archbishop Dr. Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo and his wife Ruth sent out an appeal to British Dairy farmers for milk and cows to help combat malnutrition and poverty that had ravaged the country due to civil strife.
He had just been appointed Bishop of Mukono Diocese four years earlier. He had visited a British farmer at the time and had seen the amount of waste of valuable food (milk) when the farmers had been forced to reduce on their herds because the UK was exceeding its milk quotas to the EU market. Nkoyoyo could not stand being a shepherd of the hungry and the poor. He asked those farmers who were to slaughter their cows to send them to Uganda.
When he came back, he mobilised two more bishops; of Namirembe and Mityana at the time to brace themselves for a gift of cows for their flock. On the 23rd of August, 1988, 32 cows were loaded on a train from Bath to Gatwick Airport and flown to Entebbe Airport. Nkoyoyo and his wife Ruth together with Ambassador George Kirya (then Uganda’s Ambassador to the UK) and farmers were at Entebbe to receive the cows.
14 cows were given to farmers in Mukono, 9 went to Mityana and 9 went to Namirembe diocese. By the time the mad cow disease broke out in 1996, over 300 exotic cows had been given to farmers across the 10 dioceses of the church of Uganda. He joked; “Omugabi teyeseera” when he sent 14 to Mukono diocese.
According to Fred Katende, the first employee of Send a Cow and now retired, the first office of Send a Cow was on the verandah of the Bishop’s house in Mukono and Mama Ruth later moved it to the Mother’s Union Offices.
“When Nkoyoyo, became Archbishop in 1995, he offered Send a Cow space in Namirembe at the provincial offices and it spread further to cover 70% of all the dioceses of the province that included West Buganda, Soroti, Kumi, Bukedi, Luwero, Mbale, North Mbale, Busoga, Northern Uganda, Central Buganda, Nebbi and Rwenzori,” Katende said.
Over the last three decades, Send a Cow has been helping farmers and their families to grow their own food, their confidence and their aspirations. What started as a simple, practical idea of sending cows to Uganda has evolved. Working with whole communities and transforming lives of 1.3 million people.
According to Paul Stuart, the CEO of Send a Cow, has spread to other six countries of Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Lesotho and Zambia helping thousands of lives out of poverty because of Nkoyoyo’s vision for humanity.
“At Send a Cow, we do not mourn the late Archbishop. We celebrate his life! Because we have been able to grow in body and spirit because of his stewardship for the last 30 years,” Paul Stuart said.
Patrick Sambaga, Country Director, Send a Cow Uganda, said; “In 1987, our patron believed that it was difficult for God’s people to grow in spirit if they lived in the bondage of poverty. He led the appeal to the different churches in the UK to establish Send a Cow;
He started with 32 cows believing in people thinking big but starting small. Send a Cow is now a living testimony of his selflessness. We are now a leader in livestock development and poverty eradication thanks to his vision of an Africa free of poverty and malnutrition; an Africa that is truly confident and thriving,”