It is truly astounding how each gift of livestock can change the lives of Heifer participants all around the world. I’ve seen it each time I’ve traveled for work. But I’ve never been more impressed than when I saw some water buffalo projects on my trip to Cambodia in 2010.
San Pheap, 12, Sok Phong, 7, and Sieng Hai, 6, on a water buffalo in Chrey Krem, Cambodia.
Imposing creatures to be sure, water buffalo are actually quite gentle and patient (as you can see from the photo above as this animal allowed three little boys to ride on her back). It was really fun to watch Seng Ouy bathe his family’s water buffalo. The animal’s reaction to the bath reminded me a lot of what my basset hound looks like when I put him in the tub to wash him down.
Water buffalo are prized in Cambodia. Often too expensive for smallholder farmers to purchase on their own, water buffalo often serve as “living tractors” for farming families in Southeast Asia. The draft animals can help families plant up to five times more crops than they would be able to plant by hand. And rice planting is backbreaking work.
Seng Ouy, 19, washes the family's water buffalo.
The gentle giants also provide families with milk rich in calcium and protein that can transform malnourished children. Plus, the fats in buffalo milk make it ideal for processing into cheeses that also help build strong bones.
Another benefit families see from water buffalo is manure. Adult water buffalo produce about six tons of manure a year, and for families that have biogas digesters, that manure provides precious methane to power cook stoves and lamps.
Give the gift of a water buffalo today. You’ll be providing a family with a valuable tool that will give them plenty in return.
It’s fall, and this is my favorite time of year. One of my favorite things about this season is spending time outside by a fire. If you’ve ever cooked over a campfire, you know it can be fun for a time, but let’s be honest — no one really enjoys getting smoke in their eyes. When I get back to “civilization,” I’m always thankful for conveniences like central heating and a modern kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
Now, I want to you to imagine that your only option for cooking is a fire — not an enclosed stove, but an open fire in a pit in the center of your dirt floor. You certainly grow tired of getting smoke in your eyes, but you have bigger problems: Your family begins to experience health problems after prolonged exposure to the smoke, and you live with the constant worry that one of your small children might fall into the fire.
In many of the places where Heifer International works, this is a daily reality. In addition to the health and safety concerns, there is the threat of deforestation as trees are cut for firewood. Moreover, the task of gathering firewood usually falls on women and girls. The time they spend at this chore could be better spent caring for their families or pursuing an education.
A biogas stove in Uganda in action. Photo by Russell Powell, courtesy of Heifer International.
But thanks to an ingenious thing called biogas, this is starting to change. Through a relatively-simple process, Heifer’s project participants can capture methane gas (a byproduct of livestock manure) and use it to power stoves, lanterns and even small generators. Our biogas program in Uganda recently received recognition from InterAction, which honored the program with its Best Practice award.
Although many of us take these things for granted, safe and clean means of cooking or lighting can have a tremendous impact on a family. In this video, a young family in Cameroon shows us around their small farm’s biogas plant, sharing a first-hand account of how this innovation is helping them break out of poverty and giving them hope for the future.
Today we celebrate Giving Tuesday, a day when we look past the flurry of traditional holiday shopping and think of ways to help those who are less fortunate. This year, Heifer International is offering biogas stoves in our holiday gift catalog, and for just $50 you can honor a loved one with a gift that will help a family get clean, reliable and efficient energy. So why not give a biogas stove today?Imagine the look on the face of that special someone when they realize they got a biogas stove for their holiday gift.
We’ve made it through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is the time to do your holiday shopping in a way that really gives back.
A gift from Heifer International is meaningful for everyone involved. Your friends, family and colleagues alike will be honored to receive gifts from Heifer, whether they’re goat lovers or tree huggers. You’ll know that you’ve not only done something special for your recipient, but also for our global community. And the ultimate recipient – the Heifer project participant family – will reap the benefits of your gift for years to come. Best yet, that gift will keep on giving as our participants Pass on the Gift to another family in the community.
Don’t get in your car to join the masses! Stay here online and get your Black Friday deals with Heifer’s online Gift Catalog.
From the comfort of your home, you can cross everyone off your shopping list with a gift from Heifer. My suggestion for where to start? Goats!
Goats are our most popular Gift Catalog item, and it’s easy to see why. They are funny and adorable. More importantly, these small animals can really help a farm family lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.
Smiling Goat wants you to shop Heifer for Black Friday deals! Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
Happy Thanksgiving! The Thanksgiving holiday has many meanings to people all over the country. What is Thanksgiving to your family? Do you spend time sharing what it is you each are thankful for?
Photo credit: muffintinmom, used under Creative Commons license.
As a Heifer International employee, I am grateful for you. For Heifer donors, supporters, volunteers and participants everywhere. I want to say Thank You for helping us do the important work of ending hunger, poverty and environmental degradation.
If you’re feeling extra generous on this day of thanks, I’d like to encourage you to consider making the gift of a Boost of Nutrition so that another family can be as fortunate as yours. While many of us are feasting, nearly a billion are going hungry. Today, you can do something to help.
Are you gearing up to go on the hunt for great Black Friday deals? Want to save yourself some trouble and avoid the trampling crowds this year? Ever thought about giving someone a goat?A goat is a great gift for anyone on your shopping list.
Heifer Has the Best Black Friday Deals
Okay, so we’re not running any discounts or BOGOs. That wouldn’t exactly be fair to our project participants. But I challenge you to find a deal on a gift at a big retail store that will delight your loved one AND change a hungry family’s life.
Aside from being my very favorite farm animal (why are they so awesome?), goats are the ultimate deal. Did you know more people in the world drink goats milk than cows milk? It’s no accident. Goats milk is easier to digest because its milk fats are smaller. Goats are also considerably easier to keep because of their compact size. Mama goats can have two to three goat kids per year for several years, which can be sold for profit or kept to quickly increase a family’s herd size.
But don’t just take it from me. Take it from one of our Heifer Haiti project participants:
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
I am Deinage Pierre Gelerme. I am 54 years old and married with seven children: five sons and two daughters. Some of them go to school and some don’t. We don’t have enough money to send them all to school.
I received four female goats from Heifer. Two of them are pregnant. Not only did Heifer give me the goats, they also trained me on how to take care of them. I am taking good care of them now. With these goats, I hope to improve my life economically and feed my family better than before. I am very appreciative for the distribution of goats in my community. It is a good way to fight hunger and nutrition problems in the area.
Uneducated women live a limited life. They have few personal choices about marriage, the number of children they will have and how their family will spend its money. Education for girls is a key element in fighting hunger and poverty.
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
Due to their marginalized status in many areas of the world, women’s movements are often restricted to the home, and they are not welcome to participate in making personal or community decisions. Their husbands dictate their lives. Their lack of education coupled with their low status severely limits income-generating opportunities. Moreover, their social subordination places them at a high risk for domestic violence, and if they become widows or their marriage ends, trafficking.
People in many places still believe spending money on sending a girl to school is pointless. And if she is lucky enough to get to go, when income is limited, the family often will stop her schooling in favor of spending the money on her brothers’ school fees. When half of the population isn’t fulfilling its potential, the entire community suffers.
“Before joining the group and attending the literacy class, our family had never drunk boiled water,” said 37-year-old Kan Nai Ky from the Strey Tbong Pich women’s group. “Our house was not hygienic, as we had never cared about waste around our house, and there was no sanitation inside the house. Since studying the literacy book on improving the environment, we know the importance of good hygiene, sanitation and the environment. Now we always boil the water before drinking.”
Imagine if these women had learned to read when they were girls. What different lives might they have led?
One of our newest items in the Heifer International Gift Catalog is Send a Girl to School. The gift provides a family in need with training and livestock so they can earn the income they need to pay for their daughter’s school fees and supplies. Education for girls is one of the surest ways to break the cycle of poverty and dependence in a community.
Universal Children’s Day is Today
Celebrate this Universal Children’s Day by changing the future for a girl. This holiday, created in 1954 by the United Nations, works to benefit the interests of children by limiting long-work hours and increasing access to education.
Only one week left to prepare for Giving Tuesday! Are you ready? Need a little inspiration? Check out this special Heifergraphic.
Heifer International has been a trailblazer in the alternative gift giving market. Our model is simple, yet it has a profound impact on the millions of families we serve each year. This resonates with shoppers and gift recipients alike. We are excited to participate in the inaugural Giving Tuesday, and I hope you will participate.
Get your family and friends in on the Giving Tuesday action, too. Tell them about your plans while you’re gathered together this week.
It’s been 391 years since the harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims, which would become the Thanksgiving holiday we now know, took place. Community and gratitude have taken on additional meanings since that time. In preparation for this week, I’d like you to consider this question: What is Thanksgiving without giving?
Families often go around the Thanksgiving dinner table, telling what they are thankful for that day. We give thanks. But how can we give back?
Cangas Simeon of Haiti. Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
Here’s a brief testimony from one of our Heifer International participants in Haiti:
My name is Cangas Simeon, and I am 29 years old and live in Ferrier, a section of Pestel. I am a member of the Youth Organization for the Development of Pestel.
Today I want to express my happiness and gratitude toward Heifer staff. I am a poor person, and I am not ashamed to let you know that. Since I was a little boy, I never had the possibility to buy four goats. When I get some produce from my garden, I sell some of it and eat the rest with my family. Time to time I will buy one or two goats or sheep, but I have never been able to buy four.
Today I have more than that, and soon I will have more. I plan to follow the principles that Heifer taught us so I can Pass on the Gift to someone else. I plan to have more than 20 goats in order to improve my living conditions. I know I will be successful one day and I will be able to take care of my entire family. I plan to not only pay the tuition fees for my children, but we will also have the opportunity to eat more meat and get more protein.
Cangas is a man who is truly grateful. He doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but he certainly has the answer to what is thanksgiving. He finally has the opportunity to provide consistent nutrition for his children, and he looks forward to giving back to his community what he has received through Heifer’s Pass on the Gift model.
Photo credit: Wendi Gratz, used under Creative Commons license.
Because most of us have never had to know what it’s like to be newly grateful for the gift of nutrition, it can be hard to relate. But I think what we can relate to is being so grateful for what we have that we want to give some of our abundance to others in need.
And that’s my challenge to you this Thanksgiving: When you’re going around the dinner table, listing what you’re grateful for, ask your family to also say how they plan to give back this year. Ask them: What is Thanksgiving without giving?
Heifer International’s way of giving plans for the long term. We give hungry families the power to feed themselves every day, through training in sustainable agriculture and living gifts of livestock. Our Boost of Nutrition package in the Heifer Gift Catalog has everything a family needs to be healthy and happy: seeds to grow fruits and vegetables will provide vitamins and minerals, chickens provide daily protein from eggs. The training that’s part of every Heifer project ensures that these are not hand-outs. These are gifts that will last indefinitely.
Providing a Boost of Nutrition to a family in need is a great way to give back on Thanksgiving, or anytime at all.
Philanthropy happens around the world. Photo by Russell Powell, courtesy of Heifer International.
From the Association of Fundraising Professionals website:
What makes philanthropy so special is that no one is required to give of themselves. There are no national laws or regulations which mandate that you must volunteer or get involved. Philanthropy is so powerful and inspiring precisely because it is voluntary—that through the goodness of our hearts, through our need to connect, through our desire to see a better world, we come together to improve the quality of life for all people.
On National Philanthropy Day®, charities around the world thank you for your support. Your involvement—whether it’s mentoring, volunteering, giving, staffing an event or showing your support on social media—makes philanthropy possible, and makes National Philanthropy Day so special and meaningful.
One of the unique things about Heifer International’s model is that the generous gifts of our supporters – you, the philanthropists – empower our project families to themselves become philanthropists. Yes, it is a project requirement for our original beneficiaries to Pass on the Gift of livestock and training. But the voluntary continuation of Passing on the Gift is seen in nearly every one of our project communities. Infected by the spirit of philanthropy and enabled by their improved economic status, families who once required charity become charitable givers. It’s one of the most remarkable signs of transformation we see in the field.
Are you looking to help someone on your holiday shopping list become a philanthropist? Our Gift Catalog item, Launch a Small Business, is a great motivator. Helping a family start or grow their small business will enable them to have more stable household incomes, as well as spend those incomes with other small businesses, further improving local economies.
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
In June this year, the Hongyu Cooperative, part of Heifer China’s Earthquake Rehabilitation Project, opened a store to sell pastured chickens. With help from Heifer, the cooperative was so successful at improving the production of pastured chickens that there were quickly about 40,000 chickens on the market, driving prices and profits down. To solve this problem, the cooperative began to make careful production plans and implement market development initiatives with more help from Heifer.
This year, 12 cooperative members decided to invest in opening a store to sell their own chickens, connecting the product directly with the customer and eliminating the middlemen. At the store, the price per pound for pastured chickens is about $2.02, instead of the $1.73 per kilogram previously paid by middlemen (a 17 percent increase). The monthly revenue of the store is about $636. Lin Fengchen, director general of the cooperative said, “The sales of our store are quite good, so we are planning to open another one within this year.” The excellent performance of the store is due to the high quality of its products and the value-adding services provided by the store. These results prove that smallholder farmers can benefit from efforts in business development and other activities that upgrade the product along the value chain.
This story is just one of many where training and agricultural inputs from Heifer – a result of philanthropy here – transforms small farmers into successful businesspeople.
Attend Overlook Farm’s Celebration of Living Gifts December 1 & 2 and 8 & 9
Heifer’s Learning Center at Overlook Farm will be hosting its Celebration of Living Gifts on four days in December. Take your pick! Get your holiday shopping done early; we have something for everyone on your list.