We are filled with a profound sense of loss upon learning of the departure of Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa on January 20, 2021. He was the man who established the Cow Project in Masaka, Uganda. The following is a concise history of the bishop as well as his influence on MPA. His example of compassion, commitment, humility, and service will continue to serve as a source of inspiration for a very long time. I pray that he finds eternal rest. May we be worthy of carrying on his legacy.
On the 22nd of March, 1943 found Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa was born in Bulenga Village, which is located in the Wakiso District of Uganda.
Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa was the twelfth and final child in his family, and he was given the name “Kaggwa,” which meant “the one born after the twins.” When he was a child, he was perpetually hungry, which made it difficult for him to concentrate on his prayers in church. He made a commitment to himself that if he were ever in a position to make a difference, he would assist his people in overcoming their struggles with poverty and hunger. In order to accomplish this objective, he extended a warm welcome to everybody who called the Masaka Diocese home, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. He told those in attendance, “If you are hungry, you are my people.”
On December 12, 1971, Bishop Kaggwa received his priestly ordination. On June 24, 1995, he was elevated to the position of coadjutor bishop, succeeding Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu. Kaggwa was appointed as the next bishop of the Masaka Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI after the retirement of Bishop Ddungu.
John Baptist Kaggwa launched the Cow Project almost immediately after receiving the initial donation of three cows from Heifer International and receiving assistance from Bothar of Ireland.
While travelling in 2008 with Sister Barbara Moore, CSJ, Sister Toni Temporiti, CPPS, met with Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa and learnt about the Cow Project’s holistic approach to providing a helping hand to subsistence farmers. Sister Toni was travelling with Sister Barbara Moore, CSJ.
Farmers are required to have a minimum of two acres of land. They learn together in groups comprised of an entire village, assisting one another in the construction of handwashing stations, dishwashing stations, proper latrines, and showers, as well as the digging of erosion ditches, the setting up of raised vegetable beds, the planting of fruit trees, and the beginning of the composting process. A pregnant cow is given to the family after the construction of a zero-grazing shelter is finished. The family derives immediate benefit from the byproducts of the cow, which can be put to use as fertiliser for the crops. After giving birth, the cow will start producing milk at a rate that is typically between 18 and 24 litres per day. This is sufficient for the needs of the family, with some left over to sell to the dairy at a price that is reasonable. This money, which typically ranges from $2.50 to $5.00 USD a day, makes all the difference. After the initial thirty days, the proceeds from the project are deposited into a savings account that requires a co-sign from both the husband and the wife in order to access the funds. Because of this, a culture of thriftiness and open communication about the priorities of the family has been fostered. When the family sells their first female cow to the next qualified farmer, the living debt is considered paid in full and is retired. The young bull calves of dairy cows are typically bought and sold rather quickly. The subsequent female offspring of the cow can either be maintained to add to the family’s fortune or sold to the Cow Project so that the latter can extend their operations.
2009 saw the beginning of a partnership between the Cow Project and MicroFinancing Partners in Africa (MPA). Donors to the MPA will have provided funding for 1,026 original cows and 690 pass-on cows by the end of the year 2020. In addition, 1,705 other farmers have gotten training as part of the cow initiative.
Because of this relationship, a breeding centre has been established in order to bring the supply of high-quality pregnant female cows entirely under the control of the company.
MPA was invited to work with a group of women who were very close to Bishop Kaggwa’s heart as a result of the fierce dedication that he has shown to his people, particularly the women. These were women who had an obstetric fistula at some point in their lives. In 2014, we launched the Piglet Project for women who had previously experienced a fistula.
Since that time, the MPA has expanded the piglet project to include SWAP (Safe Woman Alternative Project) table-lending groups, a Village Health Center Midwife Ultrasound Training Project, and a Group Income Project at each Village Health Center. These initiatives are intended to support the cost of providing ultrasound services to pregnant women as well as providing education and support regarding microfinance to those who are visiting pregnant women. The Safe Woman Program is comprised of these four separate projects.
In 2014 and 2016, Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa came to Saint Louis for pilgrimages. During his time here, he was the guest of honour at the annual African Gala Dinner Auction hosted by MPA. He also paid a visit to MPA’s volunteers, donors, and friends, and he took advantage of the gracious hospitality offered by the parishes of St. Simon the Apostle, Mary Queen of Peace, and Saint Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist. During his time here, he also enjoyed the hospitality of the parishes.
In July of 2019, Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa stepped down from his position. His position was taken over by the newly appointed Bishop Serverus Jjumba, who had previously held the position of Kaggwa’s Vicar General.
The death of Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa took place on January 20, 2021, after he had fought COVID-19 for a relatively short but significant amount of time.
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