Cows for Cambodia

“Let’s go!”, was the call one sunny morning. Mr. Thoeun and I wanted to go and buy cows. On the main street we met three livestock traders who knew of quality animals in the local area. Quickly we left the tar of the sealed road, revving and weaving our way along narrow and dusty paths between  never ending rice fields on our motorbikes. We changed course innumerable times onto evermore windy, beaten tracks, before suddenly the way opened before us into a broad gravel road. We passed folk with huge bundles of coconuts who trundled along on their rickety bicycles. The way again narrowed, and I asked myself how these Cambodians could ever navigate through this labyrinth of rice and dust. But there she was, the little beauty, our first candidate cow. After long negotiations, we had to decline. Too old, and too expensive. In this fashion, we continued our journey through the fields for two days until we had found four good animals.

Reiner Uehleke, Bamberg



Kick-off at the European Champions League
With their 2004 odyssey, Reiner and Thoeun laid the foundations for a growing herd. We do not keep the cows (or to be precise, Zebu, ‘Humped Cattle’), but entrust them to needy families in our area. These families then foster the cows. If one calves, the family can keep the offspring as the fruits of their labour.
 
This opens up many possibilities to a Cambodian family. They can employ the growing calf as the basis for, or a healthy addition to, their own herd. If it is a male animal, it can be considered a breeding bull. A fully mature cow provides invaluable labour on the fields. If a crop fails, and also in crisis periods, the cows are often the only life insurance and the proceeds from the sale of meat can provide an income.
 
Needy families are suggested by our Village Committee. Then, a public lottery is held to decide who receives a cow. As yet, we do not have enough cows to supply one to every household. The rights and duties of Sorya and the foster family are agreed upon and recorded before the community on a contract.


Zebu ‘Humped Cow’
The care, accommodation and reproduction of the cow is the responsibility of the family. These cows are relatively easy to care for and economically efficient to maintain. If the family is at home or busy at work in the fields they can care for it with little effort. If problems occur we try to help. When a calf is born the mother remains close by for 9 months until the calf reaches feeding age. Then the cow is passed on to the next family.
 
Mission Moo is financed by specific donations towards the project. Every cow has one or more business partners overseas that have facilitated its purchase. We provide updated reports on the health and well-being of the Moos. Some of our members have been fundraising at their Soccer Clubs, at work and at private parties. Others have symbolically given their beloved ones a cow for Christmas or birthdays. At big events such as the European Champions League and the World Cup we arrange betting syndicates with many stakeholders and encourage donations. A cow costs around $300-$400 US (approx. 300 €). The support for the poor families in Tropang Sdock however is priceless.