Editor’s note: This week’s series about volunteering is to spotlight the Spring into Action events on March 24th hosted by Heifer International. Read why these volunteers have dedicated their time in helping share Heifer’s mission of ending hunger and poverty while caring for the earth.
By Laura Berzofsky, Volunteer, Central New Jersey
I volunteer for Heifer International because of the people I meet. From Americans working to make the world a better place, to visiting individuals from every continent, witness to the transformation made possible by the simple gift of livestock and training. It gives me hope.
About ten years ago, at Heifer’s Overlook Farm Learning Center in Rutland Massachusetts, I found myself milking a cow with a lady named Sherry, from Kenya. As we worked together, she told me how her life had been changed forever by the gift of a cow. Not only had the milk nourished her children, but also she had learned to fold the manure into the earth, enabling her to grow a variety of vegetables. Sherry’s entire community had prospered, because Heifer does not just give one animal to one family; Rather, we adopt a whole village. Sherry had led her people in “passing on the gift”, giving pregnant cows to other villages and teaching all she had learned.
Civic groups, schools, synagogues and churches were calling Heifer International, asking for speakers. Overcoming my natural shyness, I enjoyed sharing the simple truth: Heifer works! We have a tried and true formula: community-based self-help. Sustainable economics through sharing and caring. Since 1944, we’re all over the world, making an ongoing difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor.
Eager to see for myself, five years ago I cashed in a life insurance policy to travel on a Heifer Study Tour. I visited villages so remote they were inaccessible by road. We climbed down steep trails and forded streams. The houses had no running water, dirt floors. But the people were dancing for joy. Simply by folding the manure from Heifer cattle into the rice paddies, families already had doubled or tripled their yield: making the difference between hunger and prosperity.
I returned with a new perspective -aware of blessings: hot running water, stove, refrigerator, indoor plumbing. Taking to the road with renewed energy, I’ve been glad to discover, at every civic event, an outpouring of individuals, Americans, eager to learn and enthusiastic about doing something practical, proven, and easy: buy a Heifer gift card, run a read-a-thon, stage a Team Heifer event… It gives me hope.