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The value of the Tanzania shilling is steadily dropping against the United States dollar, and the economic sting is being felt by many who fear that this inflation increase may make poverty worse and living conditions even harder. Despite economic challenges, there are people who use the little they have to help the poor. Daina Mangula, a smallholder farmer in Ibumila village, is a good example.

Daina’s demonstration of Sharing and Caring–one of Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development–is impressive. She recently built a modern house for a neighbor who was widowed six years ago. Her old house was in tatters and leaked uncontrollably during the rainy season. With income she earned from selling milk, Daina selflessly paid for the construction of the new house. This act of kindness raised eyebrows in the village. They would say: “How much money does Daina have that she can give a neighbor a new house? She must be rich!” You might be asking the same thing. Here’s Daina’s story. 

The houses that Daina built for her neighbor.
Diana built a house for her widowed neighbor with the money she saved from selling milk.

In 1992, Daina and the other women in Ibumila village formed a social enterprise in which they weaved raffia leaves into baskets to sell for income to share. The venture proved less profitable than the women had hoped. Daina’s cut was not enough to meet the basic needs of herself and her children. To bridge the economic gap, she would take manual labor jobs for neighboring relatively affluent families.

1992 was also the year Heifer International came to Ibumila. Diana was living in abject poverty. Her membership in the women’s group made it easy for her to become part of Heifer’s project. She and the other women participated in two weeks of training. During this time they prepared to receive animals. This preparation included building sturdy sheds and establishing suitable pastures for the animals. On a special day in 1993, 17 heifers were delivered to Daina’s social enterprise group. 

As the fourth wife in a polygamous family, the responsibility of providing for her children fell solely on Daina’s shoulders. From early in her marriage, a lack of money made things difficult. She had limited opportunities to earn money, and she remembers being unable to afford the simplest of things, like kerosene to illuminate her house. Except for light from the stars or full moon, the whole village was pitch dark at night. Since Heifer’s arrival, this situation has changed dramatically. Most homes have lighting from biogas, solar panels or electricity – luxuries they can afford because of the milk they have sold.

Your sharing and caring can empower a woman like Daina to help others.

In six months, Daina’s cow delivered a healthy calf. Her cow produced a little more than four gallons of milk a day. Soon, she started selling two and a half gallons a day, from which she earned 2,500 Tanzania shillings, or about $8 at that time. Her total monthly income from milk sales averaged $249 – roughly eight times what she earned before. Daina’s new income stream made it possible to meet her household’s basic needs, and she was able to stop working for other families.

Daina stands next to her milk cooling container.
Daina stands next to her milk cooling container.

“The project enabled me to acquire land to the tune of 50 acres,” Daina says. “I use 30 of these to plant timber trees, while the remaining 20 are divided for corn production and pasture for the zero-grazed dairy animals, and the remaining acres are allotted for feeding oxen for draft power.”

And Daina has found even more ways to diversify her income. She has built a house in the nearby urban center of Mtwango, which she rents out to tenants. Daina built her family a house, too–a very modern house illuminated by solar power. The solar panels generate enough power to run a color TV, which sits in the living room. To round out her dream house, Daina uses biogas to cook delicious meals in her modern kitchen. Pipes running from a Chinese biogas digester carry gas directly into her home.

Daina’s cattle herd has produced 40 calves, six of which she has given to neighboring families through her Passing on the Gift® commitment. Indeed, Daina’s kind heart, ambition and determination are inspirational. She is a treasure in her community and a true embodiment of Sharing and Caring.   

There are special people who have a desire to help others live better lives and who find a way to make a difference. Daina Mangula is one, and Dan West–Heifer International’s founder–is another. The mission he espoused in the 1940s continues today by people around world, and this powerful, life-changing work shows no sign of slowing down.

Story and photos courtesy of Emmanuel Sokombi, Program Manager, Tanzania

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.