by Molly Fincher, World Ark writer
photos by Olivier Asselin
HEBRON, Ghana — Heifer’s model of aid is meant to build lasting change. And while World Ark readers usually get a glimpse into projects that are in progress, we caught up with Divine Amenuku, 56, to see how life looked 10 years later. Amenuku became a dairy farmer as part of a Heifer project 10 years ago and has continued growing his farm and business ever since. Amenuku is living proof of the kind of long-term change Heifer’s work can effect.
“I started with zero,” Amenuku recalled of his plight 11 years ago. He raised chickens, but a disease wiped out all his poultry, leaving his family with no means to make a living. He seized the opportunity presented by Heifer to learn about raising cows, processing dairy and managing a business. After completing training, he received one cow from Heifer. Now, 10 years later, he owns 18 dairy cows and successfully runs a business selling milk and yogurt. The family no longer has a problem keeping food in the house, and they can cover basic needs and education for their children.
Now that Amenuku and his wife Francisca’s two daughters are grown and successfully launched adults, they have taken in two little girls, Gifty, 7, and Bless, 4, whose parents were unable to care for them. Gifty and Bless are about to start school, and Amenuku glows with pride when he speaks of them. “She has a very sharp mind,” he remarked about Bless. “She is very brilliant.”
Heifer and the project participants worked together before the project ended to make sure the supportive role Heifer had played would be carried on by others. Before the project’s conclusion, the dairy farmers formed an association (Dairy Farmers and Processors Association of Ghana) to that end. Amenuku is still the chairman of the association, and they are able to work together with other organizations such as the University of Ghana to keep the work going.
Through the association and the university, Amenuku has been able to take his training to the next level, even traveling to the Netherlands for two months for further study. He learned more about the hygienic handling of milk and animal husbandry techniques such as caring for preemie calves, which he was able to apply this spring when one of his heifers gave birth prematurely. Amenuku has grown from a beginner dairy farmer to a mentor for aspiring farmers. The University of Ghana featured Amenuku’s process for making yogurt in one of their textbooks for agriculture students, and they bring students to Amenuku’s milk processing center to study proper technique.
Amenuku is not slowing down. He’s building a new barn featuring a milking room, milk storage room, calf room and underground water piping system. He has also started cross-breeding Jersey cows from Heifer with the local Nigerian breed. By 2020, he hopes to have at least 30 cows that have the milk-producing capability of Jerseys with the resilience of the local Nigerians.
“I will tell you, milk is good,” he said.
The Ts of Transformation
Now that Amenuku is a successful dairy farmer and businessman, he is eager to share his success with others. He was happy to share the eight principles he lives by and that he believes will lead others to success, as well. Summed up, he said, “We work with passion.”
“All that I have learned, I teach my family, and I teach other groups. I want to help other people to develop as I have developed.”