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Editor’s Note: Acommitment to empower women is embedded in Heifer International’score values for sustainable development. In honor of International Women’s Dayon March 8, this week we’re sharing the stories of Heifer participants who takethe gifts of animals and training and run with them to extraordinary resultsfor themselves and their communities. Through hard work and innovations, eachwoman secures her rightful place in the family, the marketplace and the world.

Photos by Dave Anderson
In my first blog post about Huruma Mhapa while still on thetrip in Tanzania in 2010, I dubbed her “Heifer’s Superwoman” with this introduction:

I dare you to find a Heifer participant who has done morefor her family, her village, her Heifer dairy cows and farm educationthroughout her country and Africa than Huruma Mhapa of Ibumila village in theNjombe district of Tanzania.

In July 1993, after living in poverty in a small mud hutwith her family, she received one dairy cow from Heifer International and itspartner, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, and was trained in the zero-grazingmethod. Today, she's a regular lecturer at the Sokoine University ofAgriculture in Morogoro, farms 11 acres and cares for four dairy cows, alldescendants of that first cow.

From 2002 to the present, she has trained more than 4,000farmers directly, including those from Heifer projects in other countriesincluding Malawi and Kenya. Many thousands continue to visit her farm to learnabout zero grazing and organic farming.

In 2011, Mhapa won Heifer’s top honor for Women in LivestockDevelopment for all of Africa and was profiled with all the other globalwinners in World Ark magazine.

“The cattle project brought love in our family, improved ourlivelihoods and allowed our three children to go to school. If the cows alsocherish their lives in their new shed I will be very grateful,” Mhapa said. “Iconsider these cows as part of my family. I wake up at 4 a.m. At that time, mychildren are not yet awake, so the first ones to be greeted by me in themorning are the cows.”

Mhapa is a leader, a technical expert in the zero-grazingmethod of dairy farming and organic crop production, and an innovator and communitychange agent. “I can say that the way the men in this village perceive womenhas changed,” Mhapa said. “They see us, the women, as very important and theynow cooperate in increasing the income of our households.”

Her story is not about the one gift of the single cow she received in1993. Instead, it is about what she has done since with her own hard work and business savvy to make the most of that smallopportunity.


Donna Stokes

Donna Stokes is the managing editor of World Ark magazine. She has worked for Heifer International since September 2008 when she leaped over to the nonprofit world from a two-decade career in newspaper journalism.