The Diocese of Gippsland, Australia, has completed the first stage of a community development project in its companion diocese of Gahini, Rwanda.
With Rwanda still recovering from the effects of genocide a little more than ten years ago, Gippsland Anglicans were looking for a practical and sustainable project to help their brothers and sisters in what is still one of Africa's very poor countries.
The answer involved cows, something the Gippsland farmers know about as it is one of Australia's major dairying areas.
In Rwanda cows are as much a cultural icon as producers of milk and meat and the gift of a cow is a covenant of relationship.
The Anglican Women of Gippsland decided to raise money through a 'Cash for Cows' campaign to provide a cow for each of Gahini's country pastors.
Many of them minister without a regular income and a cow has the potential of providing milk for the family as well as an income supplement.
Beyond this, a proposal emerged, with the support of the dairy industry, to introduce better dairy bloodlines to Rwanda through artificial insemination (AI).
This was in line with Rwandan Government policy and produced an invitation from the Government to be involved at a level beyond just the Church.
Bishop of Gippsland, the Rt Rev. Jeffrey Driver, has just returned from Rwanda, where he led a group including a veterinary specialist, Dr John Cavalieri.
In terms of the dairy project the trip was largely a fact-finding one.
However, Dr Cavalieri spent time training a local veterinarian, and an AI programme was started Jersey, Friesian and Brown Swiss bloodlines from Australia.
The dairy herd development project will take some time to establish, but already there is a deeper relationship between the dioceses of Gippsland and Gahini.
reprinted from The North Coast Anglican, June 2005