Sam Naswaali

Ugandan organiser of Send a Cow


Samwiri Mwalye Naswaali, charity worker: born Bumasikye, Uganda 25 May 1953; married (two sons, five daughters); died Kampala 21 August 2005.

The charity Send a Cow for which Sam Naswaali worked is, fittingly, based in a converted farmhouse in a picturesque village outside Bath. It was founded by a group of Christian farmers in 1988 after a Ugandan bishop appealed for help for his country's poor, as they struggled to rebuild their lives at the end of a bitter civil war.

Instead of sending milk, as requested by the bishop, the farmers decided to provide a cow from each of their herds as a longer-term gift. The cows would keep on giving - not only would they provide milk, but calves and manure for vegetables which could be sold on the market. The money could be used to buy more livestock for the village or pay for schooling or housing and change people's lives forever.

The British farmers had hit on something: today, the charity set up to help the poorest of the poor has projects in seven African countries, and was one of three chosen by The Independent for the "Green Shoots" Christmas appeal in 2004 - one of the most successful in recent years - for which readers raised £350,775.

Sam Naswaali was an integral part of that achievement. Until he was murdered in his own garden in Kampala, he led the Send a Cow team in Uganda, where he had worked for the charity since 1997. Local farmers are trained in animal husbandry by Send a Cow before they take charge of the livestock, which now includes goats, pigs and poultry. The charity stopped exporting cows to Uganda in 1997 when BSE broke out, and now raises funds in Britain to pay for local livestock.

Naswaali was raised in Bumasikye in rural Uganda, and qualified as a chartered management accountant after secondary school. His first job was in neighbouring Kenya, where he worked as a teacher in Kisumu, returning home after the war when he joined the Church of Uganda's programme for development and rehabilitation. He spent several years working for the American charity Heifer Project International, a partner of Send a Cow, before moving to the British charity as it expanded.

His teaching training stood him in good stead at the British charity. Naswaali was an inspirational teacher who had the vision to harness his country's needs to modern methods. He was able to overcome traditional resistance from his trainees as he established working methods that are today regarded as best practice throughout the British organisation.

The tools of his trade were his legendary calm and his sense of humour that carried him through the most difficult situations. He was a gentle warrior in the fight to end poverty, and a great source of wisdom for the organisation, which now has a hole in its heart.

Anne Penketh

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