Bridge to Nepal Blog

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How a Water Buffalo Can Make a Difference

Growing up in India, I went to a Catholic boarding school, where the only Hindu teacher was the one who taught us Hindi. He was determined to put some appreciation of India into us, and sprinkle in some Hindu values. Every year, the first essay of the year was “Gaay”, meaning “Cow”. While most of turned the essays into silly stories about cows, I learned a little about them.

Cows are critical to the village economy. Besides the milk that can be sold or consumed, the dung is used as fuel, or as a building material. Mixed with water, it is used to plaster floors and walls. The bulls are used to draw ploughs and carts. At PremNagar, most of the families were given cows by Berlin Fellowship. This contribution helped to establish the community in 2001 and, by 2006, they looked like a fairly prosperous community compared to other nearby villages.

A healthy buffalo will cost about $250-$300, and produce 4-5 liters of milk a day. Milk sells at Rs 20 per liter (about .25 US$) so if a family can sell 3 liters a day, it will be able to survive on the income, and the kids will get nutrition as well.

Khushi Ram’s (right) wife got sick and so they sold the “bhaisi” (female buffalo) to pay for medicine. He says, “It was either (my wife) or the bhaisi, so I sold the bhaisi.” Without the buffalo, Khushi Ram is now one of the poorest at PremNagar. He does have a few goats that love to nibble on anything around, including my clothes. Bukhi Ram Choudhary from Kichahi (left) was recently given a water buffalo purchased for him by Prem for 18,000 Nepali Rupees (about $225) This will bring hope and prosperity to his family.