At 40 years old and the single mother of four girls as well as four other children whom were left orphans at her sisters death, Mrs. Antonita Ssebayiga is no stranger to the struggles daily life and extreme poverty in Uganda bring. This family of nine resides in Nyendo-Senyange, one of the semi urban fringes or suburbs of Masaka Town, live on a small plot of land where their surroundings are both residential and business places just seeking survival for their families among great hardship.
With the need to create a sustainable income, Antonita reached out for assistance from her Parish priest on how to join the MADDO cow project she had previously heard about from Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa during Sunday Mass, advising people to get cows for self-development.
After initially applying to be part of The Cow Project, she received training on sustainable agriculture, livestock management (zero grazing) and practicing good home sanitation and hygiene among other life-skills and success in preparation for receiving her cow.
After she working hard to construct a cow shed, an in-calf heifer was given to her in January 2014 but in just two and half years her cow has already brought impact to her family as she shares; It was really unbelievable that one who lived in the slum and congested areas like ours would manage rearing a cow but I for one have endured. Our income was so minimal that we could neither afford paying our children’s school fees nor buying milk to improve our family nutrition, hence children suffered from malnutrition diseases.
Antoinette goes on to share, My husband earned little from carpentry, while I also earned little too from tailoring, but the income could not sustain our family requirements, therefore we decided to venture in home projects that would boost our household income. Since we had a small piece of land we knew a dairy cow on zero grazing with The Cow Project from which we would get milk for sale in order to increase our savings was a good solution.
Now that we have a cow, we have on average 21 litres of milk every day from which we drink 2 litres at home and the rest is sold to our demanding community that is paying fair wages for our delicious milk.
After we passed on the first heifer, our cow now has another 4 month heifer. Besides milking 20 or so liters daily of which we serve the calf 4 liters as well.
From these earning and savings as a family we have managed to send our children to private schools. Before we got this cow our oldest daughter had dropped out after secondary school but with the help of the money from selling milk, she has enrolled for a secretarial course and now expecting to graduate in August this year!
Besides my previous tailoring side business, I have used our savings to start a retail shop in order to increase our family income even more. In this shop we sell home essentials like sugar, salt, maize flour, soda, and safe drinking water.
And since we live in the fringes of Masaka Town our savings from selling milk and our newest retail store have helped us be able to afford all our monthly bills, including to have electricity and national tapped water, which makes for living a better life all around.
From our cow we have manure which is partially used in our banana plantation. And from the newly planted banana plantation we are now harvesting the first bunches that will provide additional income.
Finally, our health has improved as compared to three years back when we could not afford buying milk every day, but now we drink 2 litres of milk daily which has reduced illness within ourselves and our children.
We would like to thank MADDO and MPA for having given us this cow that is our primary source of income and always beg that the project be extended to every needy family in Masaka.