Celebrating Life

A cow that changed a family’s destiny

NirmalaNirmala youngest daughter 6-year-old Anuska has recently started attending a government school.

Illiterate, unskilled, a victim of circumstances…Nirmala has seen the horrors that poverty and crushed dreams can wreak on a person. It never occurred to her elders to invest in her education, a regret she carries to this day. “Nobody expects much from a girl. Poverty defined my destiny from the very start. Even when I was very young, I had to cook and clean around the house, do mundane chores for the family. My day would begin at 6 am and end at 7 pm, all of it confined to the four walls of the house.”

She adds wistfully, “Going to school was someone else’s reality, a fantasy that belonged in somebody else’s story, not mine…”

For girls like Nirmala, the teenage years bring their own life-changing events and inevitable tragedies. “I was married when I was 13 years old, and I had a child two years later. My husband was a driver, and we barely made enough money for food. Soon, I had other children too and there was simply no way to feed so many mouths. I began to do odd jobs to make some money.

“All along, I would keep telling myself, ‘This phase will pass, I can do this’. But there was more to come. My husband was diagnosed with Hepatitis B. I kept thinking that he would pull through, and I did all I could to save him – I exhausted everything I had to buy his medicines and get him treatment. But he could not be saved. My youngest child, Shubham, was just seven months old when he lost his father.”

AnuskaThe enormity of the situation daunted her – how could she, alone, uneducated and with no means of income, run a family this large? “I struggled to get food for my children, provide them with clothes. There was no way I could afford to send them to school,” she says. She took to farm labour, weeding out the ground inch by inch to make money – a pittance at the end of the day. On the days she made no money, there was no food. She had to borrow money often to keep the home fires burning.

geetanjali15-year-old Geetanjali is Nirmala’s eldest child

My three daughters had to drop out of school and my eldest, Geetanjali would care for the siblings when I went to work. Shubham was always weak because he didn’t have nutritious food – a doctor said my son had polio,” she remembers. At this point, all seemed completely hopeless. She had tried her best but fate seemed determined to thwart her at every turn.

Then a cow entered her life.

The cow that changed her fortunes

her familyNirmala with her family

Through the efforts of World Vision, Nirmala received a cow that could serve as a source of income. The organisation also arranged for her children’s education. But it was the cow that really turned Nirmala’s life around. “The cow has been a blessing in our lives. She gives milk twice a day – I sell most of it and keep the rest for my children. The milk is a good source of income for us, and I also still work in the fields. All the money that I make I set aside for my children. I was never able to buy milk for my children, but now they can have it every day. Even my son’s condition is improving because he can have milk and food every day,” she grins.

What she could not provide to her children is now being fulfilled by World Vision, she says. “I wished to buy bags and books for my children, but I was never able to. World Vision has done this for them, and also put a steady source of income my way. My life is changing gradually but now I am certain that I can provide good food, nice clothes and education to my children. I now believe that we can have a good life,” she says.

29 thoughts on “A cow that changed a family’s destiny

  1. Iqbal Desai.

    Absolutely amazing and brilliant. However, wish more could be done as there are many many like Nirmala who need help.

  2. R K Sharma

    That is the reason our ancestors might have made the COW sacred.It was economics mixed with religion to ensure income to the poor.That is the reason “GAU DAAN ” came in to existence but was usurped by the Brahmins and it lost its meaning.Even today Cow milk is the main source of income in rural areas .I think we all sgould donate atleast one cow in our life time to one poor family irrespective of the receivers caste or religion.

  3. Abraham Sabar

    I feel very good to hear such a nice thing happening with the people, I was also sponsored and supported by the PREM/PLAN an NGO to study till my 10th as my family belongs to a bpl family and provided many things like raggi powder, cashew nut tree and many things to lists to my family and now gradually my family has seen its prograss towards development and improvements..I alwys pray for the hand to be provided and griven to the needy and those who badly needs and are like a climber plant needs support to rise n grow..Pray for my fellowbeings

  4. Mary

    This story should open eyes of people who are living in abundance to help at least one family .Each one support one could be a motto . I am so glad that a cow’s milk is able to support the whole family and be to satisfied with their earnings. God bless them


    Really a thought provoking story . Thousands of poor people can be helped like this . If government takes a planned action to help the poor and needy , nothing is impossible , we can make every family happy in thne Modi’s government . Mr Modi , you have done a lot and people have great hopes from you . Please think in this direction also to see that such poor and needy are helped.

  6. k.satyanarayana

    in order to eradicate rural poverty the govt should provide milch cattle with forward and backward linkages to all bpl familes so that they can sustain long time and they can get income to meet the demands and there is a possibility to cross the poverty line.Because of non observation of above linkages most of the dairy schemes are failuring and expndr made by the govt will become waste.

  7. sam

    The cow is central to this progress, yet betrayed despite its selfless support for the family when it is eventually sold to a butcher. I sincerely hope Nrimalaji shows her gratitude in return when its her turn to take care of it. It is how we approach the whole topic that decides the sustainability of maintaining that are past their prime. It all depends on how greedy one is. The maintenance cost of cow per day is about Rs. 150 and that is Rs.4500 per day, whereas it offers not less than 8 litres on an average fetching around Rs. 400 per day or Rs.12,000 per month. Fresh milk are in demand, so there is room for higher earnings, but let us say it is only Rs.12,000 In other words, a single milch cow can take care of itself, support another that is past its prime and still provide Rs. 3000 – Rs.3500/ at the end of the month. If they dont use part of it for value added items like butter or ghee. but our greed would see any spend on an animal past its prime as a waste. We would rather betray an animal that has fed us than feed it when it is our turn. This is how society is evolving. So is there any surprise when we see parents being consigned to old age home by their own kids when they are past their prime. I run a programme that offers equitable share, The Cattle – The Farmer – Rest of the People . None of the animals are sold after they retire. and it is so very sustainable. More importantly so very joyful to see them live a contended life protected from all the horrors and cruelty of mankind.

  8. Sudheendra

    Cow has been the life line for crores of people…. It does not only gives life….but also teaches us the selfless living… Great to hear this story

  9. girish

    i really wish that i could help these peoples who is suffring the same problems……plzzzzz help me to help them….

  10. Shakti kumar

    I totally agree with R K Sharma that if not every one those who can afford should donate a cow, can distribute seeds of hybrids, horticulture plants etc to help the needy people

  11. Abraham Karammel

    This is a wonderful and encouraging story proving even small things can change the destiny of a family. It should open the eyes of many people. May God help good Indian people and leaders to do the right things – even small things to transform the rural India.

  12. T.K.GHOSH

    Many people are ready to directly (but not sending money to somebody else of through any organization) help her children for education. So, their address / phone number / contact details etc. are required.

  13. P.S.Bhagavanulu

    Do any of the big sounding politicians and their bureaucrats know how may families live within their command areas? They should be held responsible for such poverty still exists in their hinterland (where they get their votes). Such members ( of legislatures) and civic bodies should try to get the figures of such poor people, their addresses and try kto help them out of their misery. If not who will do ?

  14. sunanda rudola

    Inspiring story, we need to be tough to go through all the hardships of life.Ultimately, God does take care of us in the long run.

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