This weekly post shines a light on a handful of stories from Heifer.org’s “From the Field” section.
Involvement in Heifer’s Self-Help Groups produces leaders. The process of people advocating for themselves and participating in improving their lives transforms disenfranchised groups into powerful community leaders.
Volunteer trainers of Igorota Foundation, Inc. (IFI) projects in the Northern Philippines belong to various Self-Help Groups. They are the original, first and second-generation pass-on families of two Heifer subprojects.
“They were all reserved at first,” Jun Dom-oguen, a Heifer program officer, said. “You really had to ask them to speak their minds. Seldom would they volunteer. But soon after they understood the Cornerstones, they began to share, discuss among themselves and volunteer to share their ideas.”
These Self-Help Group members now conduct workshops on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development. Through their participation in these Self-Help Groups, they have transformed into trainers for their neighbors.
In Cambodia, Phuong Nen, from O’Nornorng village, had lost hope in the future of his village, believing it couldn’t be saved because of its extreme poverty. Nen became involved with Heifer and joined a Self-Help Group.
“Now I understand that a poor community can be saved,” Nen said. He is the leader of his Self-Help Group and an innovator, looking for ways to further improve his community. He plans to apply a new micro-finance management system in 2013 to further the Self-Help Group’s savings.
Advocating for themselves through Self-Help Groups creates change in individuals and the communities that they are a part of.