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.
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.
Today is World Kindness Day, which is relatively un-celebrated here in the United States. What a shame, too. We could all use a little extra kindness, don’t you think? I still remember, back in high school, being made to do a Random Acts of Kindness project. At the time I thought it was ridiculous, having to log my daily acts of kindness every day for a month. As an adult with a wider view of the world, I now see the value.
Image by electric.porcupine, used under Creative Commons license.
What greater acts of kindness could you make today than to donate to a struggling farm family through Heifer International?
The gift of a Family Farm Care Package will help a family boost the productivity of their farm, helping them grow more food for their family to eat and sell.
Anna and her children with their calf. Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
The family of Anna Gharzaryan and her husband, Aram Karapetyan of Armenia received a pregnant heifer from Heifer Armenia and the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s joint program. Their children, Hasmik, Hayastan and Hovhannes named the cow Nargiz. Before joining the project, the family was struggling. They didn’t have livestock, and they didn’t have the money to buy one, despite both parents working hard. Because milk and dairy products are an important part of their children’s diets, the couple was forced to purchase dairy products from the neighbors.
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
It’s been a year and a half since Nargiz the cow came to the Karapetyan family. Her first calf, Samara, has already become a nice heifer and will be passed on to another family in the community next year. This year a bull calf, named Bzho, was born. He is as nice and clever as his mom and sister. Nargiz’s productivity has further increased with the birth of Bzho. Last year, she gave more than a gallon of very tasty milk each day. Now, she is producing around two gallons per day. The family no longer has to spend their small income on dairy for the children, and with time and additional training, the family’s productivity and income will increase further.
Are you all geared up for Black Friday? Cyber Monday? How about Giving Tuesday?
It’s just two weeks from today, so it’s time to plan your holiday spending to include charitable holiday giving. I may be biased, but I’d certainly recommend checking out the Heifer International online Gift Catalog. Many people already give nonprofit gifts at the holiday, but this year we’re taking it to a new level.
We’re excited at Heifer International to be a Giving Tuesday partner. We have a unique calculator in development, which will allow you to calculate the savings you scored shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so you can decide how big a philanthropist you want to be this year.
Are you at a loss for what to give family, friends and colleagues this year? Tired of giving the same old thing?
What to give? Not this. Photo credit: TheUglySweaterShop used under Creative Commons license
Here’s my philosophy on how to know what to give for any occasion: If you know exactly what to buy – that perfect gift the recipient will definitely love and use – go for it. If you’re headed to the stores to hunt around for something your friend will, at best, marginally appreciate, give to charity instead.
Sure, you can Google “Gifts under $30″ and order your boyfriend a bearded ski mask or your sister a couch pillow that plays music from an iPod.
Or you could head over to Heifer International’s Gift Catalog online and pick out the perfect gift. A flock of geese, a goat or some honeybees show you care for your loved ones and want to honor them this holiday season with a gift that really gives back.
What to give? This! When you give through Heifer, your recipients will receive this year's beautiful Honor Card. Image courtesy of Heifer International.
For each gift of $10 or more, you can request an Honor Card for your recipients.
This year on the Heifer Blog, we’ll be highlighting many of our Gift Catalog items so you can get a deeper view of what these gifts will mean to the ultimate recipients: the impoverished families around the world, whose lives Heifer sets out to change. I hope you’ll follow our What to Give series and that you’ll find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
Already know what gifts you’re giving this year? Tell us your favorite in the comments section below.
Come to the Living Gift Market in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, and learn how animals like these can provide sustainable livelihoods for struggling families. You’ll have the chance to purchase an animal for a family in need, take pictures with our animal guests and buy gifts from around the world in our “mini gift shop.” Bring your family for a day filled with the spirit of giving to others.
Living Gift Market
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Brought to you by the Heifer International Hot Springs Village Volunteer Group.