After Dat’s father caught malaria and died three years ago, his mom was forced to sell their only cow to pay off their debts. In this story, the family’s local caseworker in Vietnam shares what happened when a generous donor replaced the family’s cow — and the family’s hope.
“What are you building?” I ask Dat, the little boy playing on a small sand dune by the entrance to the house. He answers me as he continues to collect sand and pile it onto broken bricks.
“I’m building a sand bridge,” Dat answers in a soft voice without looking at me — his family’s caseworker.
When her husband became ill, Dinknesh suddenly had to provide for her family on her own. She didn’t know where to begin, and her family quickly fell into poverty. Then sponsors and donors came together to empower Dinknesh, giving her two of the most powerful Gifts of Hope — confidence, and a cow.
Like many women in rural Ethiopia, Dinknesh had a more traditional role in her family before her husband fell sick. She worked incredibly hard to maintain her home and care for her two sons while her husband, a farmer, worked the fields to bring in an income and meet the basic needs of their family.
But when he became ill, he could not work and was bedridden for months.
Suddenly, Dinknesh had to provide for her children on her own.
When you give the gift of a cow, you can change a family’s life. In one impoverished community in rural Ethiopia, Holt donors have become like celebrities for all of the generous gifts of hope — especially cows — that they have given to so many families over the years. But as the story of one young mom shows, the greatest gift is often not the gift itself — but what it inspires in the hearts of those who receive it.
Meselech’s home is the smallest in her village.
A traditional, conical-shaped hut made of mud and eucalyptus branches, it’s the same style home as most families’ homes in her community. But the thatching on the roof has worn so thin that when it rains, Meselech and her children have to huddle to stay dry under the broad, droopy leaf of a “false banana” tree.
Meselech, her husband and her four children sleep inside this one-room home — some on elevated beds, others on the floor.