Headed for a Brighter Future
Before I start, let me just say that this blog is long over-due, and I’m sure that I will return to this topic many times in the future. Then let me tell you right off, that if you haven’t heard of Heifer International, you’re in for a treat!
Heifer International is one of my very favorite organizations. They specialize in helping people in third-world countries by providing them with livestock. It’s an amazing idea, because it helps to end poverty in a way that is totally sustainable and preserves the dignity and independence of the people involved.
By helping people regain their independence and self-sufficiency, Heifer International ensures that it is creating permanent change for the better. To people living in third-world countries, a single goat or a small flock of chickens can make all the difference between starvation and abundance. Think about it this way, if you go into a poverty-ridden country and give a family food, you have fed some of them for a single day; but unless you can do that every day, and reach all the people, you are unlikely to have a large impact. Now, what happens if you give them a nanny goat? Well, that goat provides milk every day, as well as being a great weed-eater (and, incidentally, very inexpensive to feed), providing manure for fertilizer, and a possible source of meat as well. In addition, that goat can have kids–two or three a year–which can also provide milk, meat, and fertilizer, and can be sold (and therefore provide extra cash as well!) to others, and thus spread the wealth. So now, you are not only feeding the family every day, that family is now helping to feed other people as well.
See the logic? I always say that I love solutions which solve many problems at the same time, and this is really a wonderful example. Rather than just helping them eat for a day, Heifer International has found a way to re-establish whole communities with a viable way to support themselves. Heifer also provides training on how to care for and manage the livestock they provide, as well as business skills, and the resulting changes in people’s lives can be astounding.
Take the example of Cynthia, for instance. Cynthia was struggling to make ends meet for a family of seven, and often facing severe food insecurity before Heifer stepped in. With a little training, and the gift of garden seeds, fruit trees, and just thirty-one chickens, Cynthia was not only able to feed her own family, but also to raise extra food to sell. Impressive, huh?
Now, I live on a small farm myself. My family has goats and sheep and chickens, and for a while we even had a milk cow. I have experienced first-hand the amazing feeling of sitting down to a breakfast of eggs and yogurt and milk from your own animals, and to think of spreading that to people in need is simply astounding to say the least. It’s this sort of thing that will change the world for the better. Permanently. People stepping up to lend a helping hand to others–and not just with a handout, but with real, honest, support to get them back on their feet and headed for a brighter future.