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Story and Photo by Heifer Bangladesh Staff

Renuka Begum, 40, lives in Barogachi Karigarpara village with her husband, 50-year-old Alamgir Kabir, and their daughter. Renuka was not educated as a child due to extreme poverty and, as a result, is illiterate. Their 15-year-old daughter studies in grade nine. The family has no agricultural land, and Alamgir works as a day laborer. Often, he didn't earn enough to meet the family's expenses and, due to financial crisis, their daughter’s education was on the verge of ending.

As a member of the Protissurity Samaj Unnayan Samitee self-help group (SHG), Renuka became involved with a Heifer project in early 2011. She was looking for alternative ways to increase her family's income and very interested in working with the project from the beginning.

After participating in trainings on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, gender and justice and improved animal management, she purchased a pregnant cow for 19,000 Bangladeshi takas, or about $243. After five months of rearing the cow, it gave birth to a calf. Renuka used the milk for her family and sold what they didn’t need. Using the money from milk sales and other savings, Renuka has almost completed her Passing on the Gift® (POG) obligation.

The calf has grown and now has a market value of about 20,000 takas, or about $256. Her cow gave birth to another calf, and Renuka expects to sell even more milk this time.

Through the project, Renuka also received rice and vegetable seeds, which she cultivates at her house. She arranges and leads a weekly group meeting and is very serious about group activities. For this reason, she became chairman of the women’s SHG very soon after joining.

In addition to project gifts, Renuka has passed on curry, vegetables, milk, eggs and other things to neighbors and fellow SHG members. She puts great effort into educating her daughter and carefully practices the 12 Cornerstones, such as sharing, caring, participation, POG and gender equity.

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Heifer International

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

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