Today is United Nations Day, a day that celebrates the creation of the United Nations (UN), 67 years ago. Many people are familiar with the UN’s role as peacekeepers, but I wonder just how many know that the UN also works in the area of fundamental issues such as sustainable development, environment protection, gender equality and the advancement of women, and economic and social development.
Sound familiar? Although Heifer has many successes to share in these areas, to see larger changes as a result of our efforts, we cannot do this work alone, and we are more successful when working with partners helping us advance our mission. I recently wrote a blog post, “Collective Impact Necessary to End Hunger and Poverty,” that demonstrates how bringing together nonprofits, governments, the public, private and commercial businesses can increase the scale and impact of our work.
When I traveled through Asia, through our country programs’ networking efforts, we were able to meet with government officials and members of organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to discuss how our approach of helping people obtain a sustainable source of food and income aligned with their efforts. These meetings were key to creating alliances in the areas were we work.
But it is more than what we can do for these partners or what they can do for us – it is what we can accomplish together. Our focus is and always will be what we can do for struggling families who desire a better life.
In Nepal I met with families who lived among the beautiful hills of the Kabilash village and yet struggled to find the next meals for themselves and their children. They are now just receiving training, but they have hope that Heifer will support their efforts to become self-sufficient.
In this same visit I also met with families who have been involved in a Heifer project for more than two and a half years, and the contrast was amazing. The 200+ women involved have formed a cooperative with legal status and have elevated their training and new confidence to much more ambitious goals. Their success has increased interest from local government and additional organizations. I know we can replicate this example many times over by working collectively.
So today, as we recognize the creation of the United Nations, I reflect on the words of Heifer participant, Jag Kuwen Magar, who said, “It is easier for us to bring about change when we are in groups. Our ancestors say that if groups are together, then villages are together, and if villages are together, then the country is better.” I’d like to expand on this thought and say that if countries are together, the world is better.
Would you like to help Heifer’s efforts to make this world a better place? You can find ways to give on our website.