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Once a week we will be featuring a fun and/or educational activity you can try at home or in the classroom. This week we found a fun and environmentally friendly activity that makes a great Mother’s Day gift or activity to enjoy with your kids.
Do you have some old shoes laying around that you don’t wear anymore but just can’t bear to throw away? Here’s an idea that will help the environment and can be a gift your mom will cherish on Mother’s Day–make sure you ask a parent first BEFORE you fill it with dirt! If you’re a mom reading this, share this activity with your kids, or even try it together.
Take the plastic bag and line the inside of the shoe or boot, cutting it so it is entirely inside the shoe. To prevent the bag from moving around, clip it on with clothes pins or binder clips. Poke holes in the sides and bottom of the shoes, through the plastic bag with a hole puncher and/or screwdriver (make sure you have a parent around to help or supervise poking the holes.) Overwatering can be a big problem, so remember to keep it well-drained. Fill the shoe with potting soil, all the way to the toe, leaving it about an inch from the top. (If your shoe has laces make sure they are tied, to hold in the soil.) Plant your seeds or seedlings and water.
For more information on this and other upcycling activities, go to http://www.recyclescene.com/how-to-recycle/garden-planters. Or, read about Alamo Square Foot Garden, pictured above to the right.
You can also check out Heifer’s lesson plans and classroom activities related to sustainability, recycling, etc., in the Classroom Resources section of our website.
This Sunday, May 13, 2012, will be Mother’s Day. As we prepare to honor the women in our lives who have made an impact on who we are , let’s also think about the mothers who are working to provide for their children. These past two weeks we’ve provided ways on how you can celebrate your mom this Mother’s Day, stories of mothers who work to provide for their family, and shared what your mother really wants this year.
We even had actor and daughter of Susan Sarandon say that for Mother’s Day, she’s going to give Heifer this year.
What are you giving for Mother’s Day this year?
Story and photos by Katya Cengel
Suman Kumari was in 5th grade when her parents pulled her out of school. Her father told her she had studied enough for this lifetime.
“At rebirth from the womb of some other mother, then you can study whatever you want, or to whatever standard [grade] you want,” Laxman Meena told his eldest daughter.
Suman’s mother didn’t argue. She never went to school and cannot read or write. Like her husband, Moti Meena felt it was not important for their daughters to be educated.
Then, three years ago, Moti sent Suman back to school, telling her to study hard so she could help Moti with the family’s finances. Suman adjusted well despite having been out of the classroom for four years. She is now 17 years old and in the 8th grade. Her mother relies on her to read road signs when they travel. Moti herself can now sign her name, but it was not her daughter who taught her this skill, it was the women in her self-help group. The group has transformed Moti’s future and just as importantly the future of her daughter Suman.
Female-centered self-help groups are the basis of Heifer International’s work in India, said Abhinav Gaurav, technical liaison officer for Heifer India.
“The idea is to better the situation for women in a country that does not value them in the same way it values males,” Gaurav said.
Groups of 20 to 25 women meet once or twice a month and are offered various social, educational and economic trainings in addition to a savings and loan program and the support of their peers. While Heifer does supply goats in the region, Gaurav said that development here is not so much about livestock distribution as “transforming people and producing a deeper level impact.”
Moti’s family lives in a one-room thatch-sided home with a dirt floor in the hamlet of Moradi, where Heifer has been working since 2009. Of the 25 families in the settlement, 10 are associated with Heifer. In three years she has become more accepting of the different castes and tribes that populate the region and has saved 3,500 rupees ($70), which she plans to put toward replacing her home’s walls with concrete. Although she cannot remove her savings until she leaves the group, a condition that enables the group to lend money, she can borrow money at low interest rates. It was Heifer’s training on gender issues that convinced Moti and Laxman to put Suman back in school.
“After we received the gender training the whole community put pressure on us to put our daughter back in school,” Laxman said.
Both Laxman and Moti now want their eldest daughter to complete 10th grade. Moti already believes that her daughter is more knowledgeable than she was at her age. But despite all she has learned, Suman remains impressed with her mother’s wisdom.
“I see mother as a role model nowadays because she has gained knowledge and skills,” Suman said. “I want to be like her.”
This Mother’s Day show your mom how a kid can change the life of another mother in need.
Wait. Did I just say a kid? Yes. A kid. As in a baby goat.
Goats are some of the most versatile creatures that can survive in even the most extreme climates. They supply up to a ton of milk a year which is used to make cheese, yogurt, and butter. This helps lead the way for better nutrition in impoverished communities. And, because they have two to three kids a year, it’s easier for Heifer families to Pass on the Gift of a goat to another family in need.
In preparation for Mother’s Day, CEO of Heifer South Africa Marisia Geraci made this brief video about exposing her twins to Heifer’s work around the world. On a recent visit to Rwanda and Kenya, the girls met project participants and learned about their lives. They are becoming young leaders in the field of development and dream of being “Heifers” like their Mommy.
Give your mother something different this Mother’s Day. A gift from Heifer will show Mom that kids can change the world with a meaningful present that gives back.
Story by: Marina Kazaryan, Project Assistant, Heifer Georgia
When you enter Kazbegi, the mountains will leave you spellbound the very first minute. They surround the place, protecting it from all winds. People of Kazbegi resemble the mountains they live in – not speaking much, strong-willed and not dropping their head in the face of hardships.
“It was such a hard blow for me when my husband passed away,” remembers Nina Badashvili. “After he was gone, I was left with three small kids on my hands and no source to provide for them.” At that time, the region’s economic situation, like the entire country, was severely damaged, following the aftermath of the Soviet Union breakdown. Many families were left unemployed and with no clear prospects for the future. “In some households, men would go to Tbilisi or Vladikavkaz (now in Russian Federation) to find a job there,” says Nina. “I couldn’t afford even that, because there was no one I could leave my children with.”
Nina’s only option was to sell milk and dairy products from her family’s single cow at the market in Vladikavkaz, which, though only 45 km away, was on the other side of the border. Nina would get a ride to Vladikavkaz and spend the whole day at the market trying to sell as much as she could in order to buy flour, oil and salt. “I returned home in the dark,” Nina recalls. “Sometimes there would be no car returning to Kazbegi the same evening, and I had to stay overnight in Vladikavkaz. My children were alone at home, and though I knew I could rely on my elder daughter to take care of them, she was but a child herself.” But even this source of income was not permanent. After several years, Nina’s children grew up. It was time to think of their future. “I wanted to give them the best I could, to make sure they find their way in this world,” she adds. “I wanted them to have good education, so I had to sell the cow to save some money.”
Today, Nina’s eldest daughter is a mother. After separating from her husband, she and her six-year-old son Luka moved in with Nina. “Thank God, this time we don’t have to go through the same hardships,” Nina smiles. Their situation is smoother because Nina joined a Heifer project implemented in Kazbegi. She learned about it from the chairman of the local farmers association and immediately saw it as her chance to help Nato raise Luka. After appropriate trainings, the family received a nice, healthy heifer. “Now we have milk and cheese every day; together with homemade bread, this is a perfect meal for a mountain dweller,” smiles Nina. She says it didn’t take long to see the positive effects of such a diet, as Luka is growing strong and healthy from sufficient milk and milk products. Since the border between Kazbegi and Russia is closed to Georgian citizens, following the escalation of the Georgian-Russian conflict, Nato sells surplus milk in the local market. In addition, dairy products are in great demand among local and foreign tourists who come to Kazbegi for skiing; therefore, the price for these products, especially cheese, is rather high here. “We still manage to save up bit-by-bit,” says Nato. “Last winter, we had a gas oven installed for heating and are now saved from severe Kazbegi winters. This was our dream that finally came true.” Together, Nina and Nato take care of their household, which, besides the heifer, also includes a pig. “I was always close with my mother, and participation in Heifer project together only made these ties stronger,” says Nato.
“I think this is such great and useful work that Heifer International is doing,” says Nina. “The decision to join the project was the most correct I could have made. I can’t thank enough Heifer’s generous donors and American people for conducting this project and giving me, among other people, the possibility to take good care of my family. I’m looking forward to passing on the heifer to another family this year. I hope the new family will take good care of it. I’m ready to help them in any way.”
This Mother’s Day, honor your mother and help more mothers like Nina and Nato build lives of self-sufficiency with an alternative Mother’s Day gift from Heifer.
What do you think your mom really wants this year for Mother’s Day? Breakfast in bed? Maybe, if you’re a good cook. Another piece of jewelry? If she’s been a mom long enough, she’s probably got more than she can wear. What about a framed picture of the grandkids? Okay, probably yes on that one.
Some moms are happy just knowing that, on one special day out of the year, you pause to recognize everything she does for the family.
This year, take it one step further and give her a gift to recognize not only her, but also the millions of mothers around the world who need our help. A charitable donation to Heifer in honor of your mother provides a gift of livestock that helps moms in need around the world reach lives of dignity and self-reliance. It just my be the best Mother’s Day gift idea you ever have.
Think about it: does she really need another “I heart Mom” necklace? Give her a goat instead! It’s a much more practical way to say “Happy Mother’s Day.”
Have you ever given your mom a Heifer alternative gift for Mother’s Day? Tell us how she liked it in the comments section.