Cross World Africa reached a new milestone this year, delivering 50 cows to women and families all across Kenya’s rural western provinces. This marked the largest among of livestock given out through CWA’s Cow and Goat Project since it began in 2008. While milestone is truly extraordinary, even more incredible is the fact that half of these cows were delivered to a single village!

The village that helped CWA reach this new record of gift giving is located in Nandi County, a few hours drive from Kapsabet. Surrounded by steep hillsides checkered in the verdant greens of tea farms and corn fields, the beauty of the place nearly overwhelmed the fact that its inhabitants were in desperate need of aid.

Cross World Africa local project leader Benedette Tiony selected this village specifically because it had been overlooked by the county government. Government aid for education and infrastructure had not found its way to the villages valley in years, and its aging population was growing increasingly desperate for assistance.

The bleak outlook of the community was quickly shattered once Benedette brought the CWA cow and goat project to their village. Working with the village’s elders, 25 women were selected to receive a cow. The cows represent wealth and status in rural Kenya, but also become a vital part of the local economy. The women can use the cows milk to sustain themselves and their families, and can sell the surplus milk to earn income for school fees and medical expenses. Cross World Africa also encourages recipients of the cow and goat project to “pay their gift forward” by giving the first born calf of the cow to another family that’s in need within the community.

As might be expected, the community was ecstatic to hear the news that CWA was coming to their village. The village’s elders called the entire community together, and Benedette helped them rent and install tents and chairs for the community to sit on during the ceremony.

As the livestock was brought to the ceremony, dancing and songs erupted from the crowds. The women dressed in traditional garbs and led the procession of the livestock, swaying and singing hymns to bless the event.

The women who received the cows varied in age, but all of them were overcome with emotion after being handed the leash to an animal that was certain to change their life.

The cow ceremony in Nandi was special this year, not only because of the quantity of livestock given away (a testament to the generosity of our donors), but because many of these cows were donated by local Kenyans! Two local businessmen decided to provide four cows for their community, and even attending the ceremony to witness the project.

Another local donor was none other than Former World Champion Lornah Kiplagat. Lornah was a professional long distance runner who ran for both Kenya and the Netherlands. She once held the world record for the half marathon, and was a multiple gold medalist in world road races. Upon hearing about CWA’s upcoming cow and goat project, Lornah was moved to donate another cow for the ceremony.

Cross World Africa has always strived to build up the local capacity of communities in Kenya. It is our firm belief that as local leaders rise up and empower their respective communities, inequality in Kenya will begin to fall. Seeing the Nandi village ceremony organized by Benedette and the cows donated by local individuals is a testament this aim becoming realized.

Thanks to all of our donors across the globe who helped make hope a reality in this small village seated atop the Nandi Hills!