At Heifer International, “sustainability” is much more than a buzzword. It’s at the core of everything we do. If you’re not setting out to do work that lasts, why bother at all? As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, Heifer’s work can be viewed through three lenses of sustainability. This post is the first in a three-part series to examine what genuine sustainability looks like at Heifer International.
Sustainability: Able to be maintained at a certain level
One of the defining factors of our work is that, when our projects are over, and direct involvement with participating families is finished, the improvements they have made in their own lives through our gifts of livestock and training are maintainable. Small farming families have the physical resources, knowledge and motivation to not only stay at their current level of improved livelihoods, but also to continue making improvements.
This form of sustainability is so important, and it’s how we know our efforts truly work. Take for example the Kitomary family of Tanzania, about whom Kelly MacNeil wrote on the Heifer Blog. They received their gifts of animals and training nine years ago, and they continue thriving on their one-and-a-half-acre farm after all these years. They are educating all six of their children, which would not be possible had they not continued applying what they learned in the Heifer trainings to make the most out of their very small plot of land. The Kitomarys are the living definition of sustainability.