Msaada event at Orchard Park, Gillingham

What a difference a cow makes!!

Orchard Park Garden Centre have joined forces with Gillingham based charity Msaada and local actress, Pippa Haywood  in a ground breaking artistic project to help transform the life of a family in Rwanda with an innovative art project to raise money to buy a high yielding in-calf dairy heifer to and send it to an impoverished family in Rwanda.

Pippa, whose recent work includes Prisoners Wives and ‘Greenwing’, was delighted when she was asked to participate in this event.  “What’s so great about this idea is that it is a team effort.  Our town can come together and offer support to a Rwandan family who have suffered such appalling terror and hardship.  What is so inspiring about Msaada it that is isn’t just a charitable hand out but a really constructive offer to enable a family to become self-sufficient and the benefits will ripple through the whole community.  What better way to spend the summer holidays than by families being involved in such a fantastic project!!”

‘The Orchard Park Msaada Big Picture’ aims to get 150 people from the Gillingham and Shaftesbury area to paint one of 150 panels of a larger painting (see illustration with this article) that will combine to create a massive 15 x 10ft artwork and on Saturday 22 September a fun day of activities, painting, music, delicious food and fund raising will be held at Orchard Park and culminate with the unveiling of the completed ‘big picture’ which will be permanently displayed at Orchard Park.

Each participant will be asked to pay £20 (or seek sponsorship for a greater amount) to help buy the dairy cow.  Behind some of the panels will be sponsored prizes for lucky artists whose panel umber is selected on the day, after the painting is assembled.   Each participant will receive a ‘Big Picture kit’ which consists of a copy of one of the panels in the main painting, a wooden panel/board on which to paint and a set of paints and brushes.  Kits can be paid for and collected at Orchard Park Garden Centre or Msaada, 9 Leddington Way, Gillingham SP8 4FF and the completed panel must be returned to Orchard Park by Saturday 15th September.  The painting is based on an original called ‘Goodlife’ by artisit Kate Chidley, who has kindly allowed Msaada to use her work for the project.

Msaada was established in the Blackmore Vale area in 2005 to help Rwandans in the east of the country rebuild their lives following the catastrophic 1994 genocide, through self-sustainable development projects and education.   One of the most sustainable and profitable Third World activities is a well-managed and monitored dairy livestock program and with this in mind Msaada are working hard to raise public awareness and funds for this project.  Msaada director, Bill Kelly said “there are very few projects that provide such a level of empowerment and independence to individual families as dairy cows, there is a dramatic transformation from abject poverty to relative comfort and self-reliance.  Each family that receives an animal must pass on a gift of its first-born female calf to another needy family, who will do likewise in their turn, and so the gift grows”. Those chosen to receive the cows will be selected by their need and capacity, not ethnic, religious or political considerations.  Income from the milk the cow produces will allow the family to take control of their own lives, for example the income may be used to send their children to school as well as paying for the other necessities of life and Biogas from the cow’s manure will provide fuel for cooking.

Orchard Park Managing Director Richard Cumming said “we are delighted to be supporting Msaada in this exciting and worthy project.  We hope that with the support of local residents, customers and friends the event will raise the £2,500 needed to buy and airlift the cow to Rwanda and to pay for training in animal husbandry, veterinary support and monitoring for 3 years to ensure the family gets the full benefit of their gift.  We would encourage all families to join in the painting fun and the completed picture will be a lasting legacy of the generosity of supporters”.

If you would like more information about  painting a panel for Msaada or the event on 22 September at Orchard Park visit their website or call Jilly on 01747 835544.

For more information about Msaada please visit


Photo captions;

Richard Cumming, Managing Director of Orchard Park; Billy Kelly, Director of Msaada and actress Pippa Haywood launch the Msaada Big Picture at Orchard Park.

The painting, Goodlife, by artisit Kate Chidley, showing the segments which local people will be asked to reproduce for the Msaada Big Picture at Orchard Park.

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