The Cow that Reunited a Family

Livestock and beekeeping


Cheo Dora Neba is a farmer. She grows maize, corn, and beans. She lives in the village of Bambui in the country of Cameroon. The people in her village call her Dora.

For many years Dora worked hard but it was a struggle to survive and feed her family. Her husband moved away to another town. He came home once in a while when he had extra money.

But a few years ago something in Dora’s life changed. She received a dairy cow as a gift from a farmer in the far-away country of Ireland.

The donated cow was part of a program operated by an organization called Heifer Project International. This organization works with families and communities who want to raise livestock and gain skills in agriculture and community development.

Not every family in her community received a cow. One family that did not receive a cow agreed to help Dora feed and care for the animal. In return, Dora agreed to give the first-born female calf to the family that helped her. So, when Dora’s cow delivered a female calf, Dora cared for it for a few months, and then gave it to the other family. So they all benefitted.

Many other people in the community also helped Dora when she received the cow. She could not build a cow shed by herself, but she bought cement, gravel, and nails, and the neighbours helped her build a cow shed.

Soon after Dora’s cow had its first calf Dora’s life improved. Her children drank milk every day so they were healthier. She sold the extra milk. With the money from the milk she bought feed for her cow and books for her children.

Dora used manure from her cow to fertilize the soil. Her crops improved and yields increased. Over time she saved enough money from selling cow milk to hire neighbours to help with daily activities on the farm. So other people in the community benefitted and were thankful for Dora’s cow.

One of the reasons that Dora was successful was because of the way she managed her cow. She used a system called zero-grazing. That means she kept her cow in a pen. She did not allow her cow to graze freely.

Instead she cut grass from a nearby field and carried it to the cow every day. This way she could watch her animal closely, removing ticks whenever she saw them. The cow was healthier as a result. And because the cow wasn’t running loose in the village the whole community benefitted.

When Dora’s husband heard of her success on the farm, he came home to stay and work with his wife. And he came home to a healthier family and a more promising future. Dora’s hard work paid off. And the cow played a big part in bringing her family back together.


Written by Jennifer Pittet, Managing Editor, Farm Radio Network. Based on an interview with Eugene Ateh, DVM, Project Coordinator, Heifer Project International – Cameroon, P.O. Box 467, Bamenda, Northwest Province, Cameroon.