Last month, a group of state officers from the Arkansas Association of the National FFA Organization spent a weekend at the Heifer International Learning Center at Heifer Ranch and were generous to share their reflections with us. For your lunchtime reading this week, we’ll pass these reflections on to you.
From Arkansas FFA Eastern District Vice President, Clayton Harlan
On the weekend of December 16th through the 18th Arkansas FFA officers and National FFA staff and officers paired up with Heifer International and Elanco at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. Over the course of this weekend our group took a look at poverty and world hunger and Heifer Internationals role in it. Our group quickly became a family by our engagement in team building activities and our opportunity to live firsthand in the lives of those in third world countries. On the 17th we were randomly grouped into different countries between Guatemala, Zambia, and the Slums. Each country had its own sort of luxury. For example, Guatemala had unlimited access to a water source, and a house with doors and electricity. Zambia had started out with the firewood that countries would need to split in order to cook food, and Zambia was a small brick hut with a concrete floor with no doors. While the Slums started out with nothing of a luxury, the slums did offer a fire pit, and a wooden shack with old wooden floors. Guess which country I was placed into, the Slums. The family of 8 that called the Slums home for the night started off with only 1 ½ cup of rice, no fire or metal to cook our food with. We quickly realized we had an ultimatum we either starved that night or we paired up with another country and ate with them. Our family soon sought help from Guatemala family of 4. When we arrived at the Guatemala household we soon found ourselves talking with two representatives of the 6 of Zambia. We together formulated an idea to have a big meal with all three countries sharing their supplies. Soon after our countries split from Guatemala to fetch the rest of our supplies and meet back at Guatemala, Zambia decided they didn’t want to engage in our dinner that included all the countries, soon after they completely exiled themselves from the rest of us.
This is when my eyes opened. Being from the slums we started with nothing, we had no way to cook what little food we had, we had the worst living conditions of the three countries, and we needed others to assist us just to help us make it by. When Zambia broke away from our agreement about dinner, I instantly thought,” How could they?” I couldn’t grasp the fact that they didn’t want to work together and to help everyone out. Then it hit me how often does this happen in the world. When promises are made then broken. My family in the slums like many millions of families around the world lost hope. Hope is created by promises, and hope instills confidence. Our family lost all sense of hope and confidence in a few seconds because one country wasn’t willing to share their supplies with others. This was just on a small scale of 18 people; could you imagine this happing in real life with roughly 7 billion people?
Over the course of this weekend I realized supplies are not just materialistic, but mental. We use materialistic supplies to help build our mental supplies. Doors create a sense of security, stocked refrigerators let us know where our next meal will come from, medicine helps us stay healthy from disease, best of all anything materialistic is factored into one emotion, Hope. I hope each and every one of you not only donate your time, money, food, but you also create a promise and instill hope and confidence in the lives of others and not only help build material supplies, but emotional supplies around the world.