In Spitak, in the Lori region of Armenia, lives Irina Dallaqyan, a 37-year-old widow and mother to three sons. The family has lived in temporary housing since 1988 when an earthquake left them homeless. A local farm provided Irina with work as a dairy maid, but her position only paid an inadequate $140 a month.
Irina with her sons, Arayik (left) and Vladimir, at their home in Spitak, Lori region, Armenia. Photo by Aram Petrosyan, Program Coordinator, Heifer Armenia
Irina’s neighbor told her about Heifer International’s work with Spitak Farmers Association and she made a request to become a recipient in the next Passing on the Gift® ceremony.
“I received two pigs from the project, [but] because my family lives in a temporary shelter, we have no barn,” Irina said.
The Heifer project, Agricultural Development Project in Spitak and Lernantsk Communities, helps farmers house their animals together and share the work and income generated from the joint farming.
“One of my pigs delivered eight piglets, and the other delivered nine,” Irina said. “I sold 10 piglets out of 17 and generated 180,000 Armenian drams (about $430). The money I saved from the sales of the piglets was directed to purchase feed for the animals. The rest, seven piglets, I kept to enlarge my farm.”
Through Heifer’s work, Irina found the support she needed and looks forward to future success.
This Mother’s Day you can support women worldwide with gift ideas from Heifer and give your mom something that truly makes a difference. Your gift can support impoverished mothers with training, livestock and clean water, which will help them rise out of poverty and become self-reliant.
This Mother’s Day. Gift Different. Give Heifer. Photo courtesy of Heifer International
When Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines, many Heifer Philippines project participants devoted special attention to the animals’ well-being over their own, knowing pigs are a rewarding investment. Project participants also shared the aid they received from Heifer with their neighbors, exhibiting the Sharing and Caring Cornerstone. Annie Bergman, senior World Ark writer, shares how pigs have helped participants recover more quickly after Typhoon Bopha.
Rocky Carag, 6, with one of his family’s pigs. Photo by Russell Powell.
On the third anniversary of the devastating January 2010 Haiti earthquake, Heifer International remembers the quake’s victims – those killed and those dislocated – and affirms our commitment to help Haitians emerge from the tragedy stronger than before.
Port-au-Prince tent camp almost 8 months after Haiti earthquake in 2010. Photo by Bryan Clifton, courtesy of Heifer International.
The magnitude-7 earthquake affected nearly 3,000 Heifer project families. Since the Haiti earthquake, Heifer has built and repaired dozens of homes; provided water filters and hygiene kits to prevent cholera; and helped rejuvenate rural agricultural activities with training and resources such as animals, equipment and seeds.
Today, Heifer International is implementing an extensive project called REACH (Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti), which is helping Haiti build its agricultural sector and improve the lives of rural Haitians.
Goat breeding center, part of Heifer's Haiti REACH project, in Tet Kole. Photo by Jason Woods, courtesy of Heifer International.
The five-year project will assist 20,250 rural households in Haiti through not only the distribution of livestock but also through improved market linkages and construction and management of goat and swine breeding centers.
Heifer will build 97 goat and 50 swine breeding centers that will provide quality livestock for Haitians, and project participants will own the centers. Twenty-five breeding center owners have been selected already, and 19 breeding centers are under construction.
Photo by Jason Woods, courtesy of Heifer International.
Heifer International worked in Haiti for 10 years before the earthquake and is committed to working with families for many years to come. Recently, Heifer provided help to families and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, which, before striking the northeastern United States as Superstorm Sandy, inundated the struggling island nation.
As the world remembers the catastrophe that occurred on January 12, 2010, and considers how far Haiti has yet to come, Heifer International vows to open a new era of hope in the lives of thousands of Haitian people.
Last fall, Americas Area Vice President Oscar Castañeda shared his thoughts on Heifer Haiti’s Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti (REACH) project. REACH is a five-year project that will assist 20,250 rural households in Haiti through not only the distribution of livestock but also through improved market linkages and the construction and management of goat and swine breeding centers. Learn more about REACH here: www.heifer.org/reachout.
Gladys Vilport with one of her goats in Maniche, Haiti. Photo by Jason Woods, courtesy of Heifer International.
The project officially started in the second half of 2012, and the past several months staff members in Haiti have begun constructing the project.
“REACH is just like we’re building Haiti,” said Hervil Cherubin, Heifer Haiti director. “So you have to spend a lot of time to build a strong foundation, a strong base. Once you have that base, you can go ahead. That’s what we’ve been doing the first semester, building that base.”
REACH will be implemented in six of Haiti’s ten departments. So far, Heifer Haiti has selected 36 municipalities in four departments for REACH. About half of the communities where Heifer will work through the project have been identified as well.
To date, 100 project participants have received training. Sixty goats and 240 rabbits have also been distributed. Additionally, a fish hatchery was built for 15,000 fingerlings on Lake Peligre.
Goat and pig breeding centers are an important part of REACH. Heifer will build 97 goat and 50 swine breeding centers that will provide quality livestock for Haitians. Project participants will own the centers. Twenty-five breeding center owners have been selected already, and 19 breeding centers are under construction.
From December 4-6, Heifer Haiti hosted the Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW) Orientation Workshop in Les Cayes. The goal of the workshop was to develop a community-based animal health care system in Haiti through a “training of trainers” methodology, where workshop participants learned basic health care applicable for all animal species so that they can use that knowledge to train animal health workers in the field. During the workshop, participants and facilitators designed a three-week basic course to use for the participants’ training sessions in the field. In the next month, workshop participants will train 60 CAHWs to assist in the REACH project.
Partnerships for the project are also in the works with Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture and several non-governmental organizations.
“Now we’re ready to start building on (our) base,” Cherubin said. “Structurally, (REACH) has been praised. Many people think, for the first time, there is a model that takes on the structural aspects of animal production in Haiti.”
Surfing the web, looking for Cyber Monday deals? Shop Heifer International’s Gift Catalog instead, and let your boss catch you browsing for a gift that gives back!
Our Cyber Monday Recommendation: Pigs!
Photo by Geoff Oliver Bugbee, courtesy of Heifer Inernational.
Pigs are the perfect, most interest-bearing “living savings accounts” for struggling families. They provide a valuable source of protein, income from selling offspring, and manure to nourish crops and soil.
Did you know?
Pigs can have up to 16 piglets in a litter.
Piglets usually double their birth weight in just one week.
Pigs thrive on crop and garden waste, saving fodder land and income.
In the time since our last post, Heifer China participant Chang Julan’s family suffered a loss of livestock. Seven sows all became pregnant, but in May one of the sows had a difficult pregnancy and died, taking with her at least 10 unborn piglets. Now Julan’s family only has six sows and eight young pigs for fattening. During these months they also bought 20 piglets since the selling price this year was relatively low. Ms. Chang also decided to continue to raise sows and to increase her flock of chickens.
Chang Julan's family's living room. Photo courtesy of Heifer China.
Although the whole house has yet to be whitewashed, the Chang family has completed their new kitchen along with the remainder of the renovations. They now have a hard stable floor and ceramic tiles beneath the stove. In April they installed a protective railing around the first floor windows and the second floor balcony. The family now also has running water and the ability to burn firewood, and the use of electric and biogas-fueled cooking. Ms. Chang is committed to environmental preservation, and in the future wants to focus more on the use of biogas.
Ms. Chang’s son, Yang Jiusong, has completed the High School-placement exam at the Northern Vocational Middle School in Guangyuan City, and is still at school preparing to take a computer aptitude exam. Ms. Chang’s husband, Yang Yongguang, works in Guangyuan City as a day-laborer, although both husband and wife are also busy clearing weeds from the cornfields.
Recently Chang Julan purchased a water tower in preparation for installing running water in the bathroom, so as to be able to better clean the toilet and to shower. She plans to install a solar heater. Ms. Chang has also bought two electric fans and a scale; the scale is for weighing pigs when she’s selling them, and for organizing the fodder by weight.
Chang Julan's happy family. Photo courtesy of Heifer China.
The entirety of the countryside was busy for a month, until early June when it all was finally over. In late Autumn the Chang family sowed over 1 mu (about 1.5 acres) of rapeseed, collecting more than 400 jin (440 pounds); sowed over 2 mu (about 3.25 acres) of wheat, collecting more than 1000 jin (1,102 pounds); irrigated 4 mu (about 6.5 acres) of paddies; and planted 2 mu (about 3.25 acres) of corn. Lastly, they also planted sweet potatoes, peanuts, red beans, green string beans, and cucumbers, along with other assorted vegetables.
Editor’s note: The following story and photos are by Jessica Ford, Communications and Research Officer for Heifer Peru.
In my last post; I told you about my first visit with Heifer families in Peru. Thanks for coming back for the second part of the story. If you missed my first post, here is some background:
Heifer has relocated me from the headquarters in Little Rock, where I’m from, to their office in Lima, Peru, for one year as part of a pilot development program. This is the second of two posts about a one-day visit to my very first Heifer project in Peru. I had two reasons for visiting the project. The first was to visit some families there that Heifer is working with for the general monitoring and evaluating that comes with all Heifer projects (read about these families here). The other reason was to attend a Passing on the Gift ceremony.
Everything was ready and waiting for us at the community center. It took us just a few minutes to travel by truck to the center. Once we arrived, we were greeted by two long lines of men, women and children ready to receive their “special guests” for the big day. This blew my mind. Personally, as an employee of Heifer International, a Passing on the Gift ceremony is the pinnacle and trademark of Heifer’s work. Passing on the Gift is at the core of Heifer’s model being successful and sustainable. For any employee from a Heifer office to attend one of these is a huge honor and privilege. I was more honored to be there more than these people will ever understand.
The community members gave us big hugs and kisses and threw confetti all over us and up in the air. There was a band playing as we walked together through the rows of people and hugged and kissed and exchanged greetings like old friends.
We were seated under a tent, and the festivities began.
Much preparation and planning went into this event. You don’t just throw a Passing on the Gift Ceremony together! Hundreds of people were there – they all needed to be organized and fed, there was a Master of Ceremonies, invitations to guests went out well in advance, animals were running around everywhere, the program was well rehearsed. Needless to say, there were a lot of details. Many distinguished guests also joined us. Speeches were given by the leaders of the gathering to welcome all the guests and community members.
The community building.
The presence of so many, and such diverse local community officials and members exemplified the importance and impact Heifer Peru has here. It isn’t just the individual families Heifer supports and trains – Heifer encourages involvement at every possible level. It is critical. The entire area has a deep sense of ownership. It makes the projects, Pass-on ceremonies and new livelihoods less of a story about “what Heifer does to help people,” and more about how much this whole community does to help themselves and each other.
Women wait for the Passing on the Gift ceremony to begin.
Men wait on a bench for Passing on the Gift ceremony to begin.
A highlight of the ceremony was the dancing. Oh, the dancing! Four groups danced for us. The men, women and children both danced traditional dances, and they were beautiful. I was even dragged up to dance some. It was so much fun! I couldn’t breathe afterward, but I did my best.
Community members in a traditional dance line.
While all these plans, dances, speeches and food were important and special, they didn’t compare to the most important planning required of all – the actual Passing on the Gift. For this community that day, each family passed on a sack of potato seeds and one pig. (The seeds are especially important in Peru. Peru has more varieties of potatoes than any other country in the world. Each sack contained multiple varieties of seeds, which strengthens biodiversity and nutrition.) Months and months of strategic planning, cultivating and training went into this very moment. More than 50 families were anxiously waiting their turn to receive their animal and potato seeds. Passing on the Gift changes lives, and they knew it.
Passing on the Gift wasn’t important only for those receiving animals and seeds. The families doing the passing on were upholding a deep-rooted tradition, long held by the people of Peru called Ayni. In my words, Ayni is the ancient Andean concept of natural reciprocity. It is the understanding of the importance of nature and the world around us as being linked and in honoring the duality in everything. It is the principle that one must give and take in equal exchange with the surrounding environment. For all those involved in this Passing on the Gift ceremony, Ayni was a part of them and their community. They honored their ancestors and passed down a beautiful tradition. And Heifer, through our Passing on the Gift model, helped remind them of the importance of this tradition.
As the dancing and festivities led to the culmination of the day, potato seeds and pigs were brought out, and families began to line up.
Sacks of Peruvian potato seeds ready for Passing on the Gift ceremony.
Community members line up for Passing on the Gift ceremony.
Then the MC did the countdown: UNO, DOS, DOS y MEDIA, TRES! GO!
There are no words, pictures or videos for me to truly describe the transformation I felt in that very moment. The months of training and planning and preparation all came together right then. Lives were changed. People were changed – they were better and happier and had hope. They honored their ancestors. They honored each other and themselves. It wasn’t just an animal and a sack of potatoes, which alone can mean the difference between life and death. Somehow it was even more than that – I witnessed the process of personal transformation that Heifer empowers communities to ignite, which means the difference between hopelessness and hope.
A recipient of Passing on the Gift is the picture of life and hope.
Ten months after joining the POG group, Ms. Khuon Sopheap has actively participated in group activities including monthly meetings, a savings program and attending literacy class. Through these technical and non-technical trainings, her knowledge and life skills have been improved while her attitude and behavior have been changed. She has shared what she learned with her family members and other villagers.
During the last four months, Sopheap and her family members keep practicing simple techniques in swine productions. With help from her daughters, Sophea and Sophort, she cleans the pen, troughs and the pigs before feeding them. She puts mosquito nets on the pen to protect the pigs from being bitten by mosquitoes that might affect the pigs’ health, which could lead to adverse weight loss. The family is happy to take good care of their pigs. So far, her family decreased buying commercial feed for feeding the pigs as its price goes up. Instead, the family increases using their local available resources including banana trees, morning glories and so forth for the pigs’ feed by applying knowledge they gained from the training. Moreover, Sophea and Sophort always spend their free time to find aquatic plants from the river as supplementary feed for the pigs. Now each pig is around 60 kilograms, and very healthy. Sopheap hopes she will receive the pigs’ offspring soon.
“Although my pigs do not yet give me income, I can see they are growing from day to day. I really hope they will become my family’s main resource of income when they produce piglets during the next few months. With the piglets I will be able to enhance my swine production,” Sopheap says.
After the flood destroyed her home garden late last year, her family now restores a plot of 15 square meters of land behind the house to grow varieties of vegetables for improving the family members’ nutrition. The family is more aware of sanitation and hygiene through keeping the household campus clean. Now all her family members regularly drink water that has first been boiled.
Sopheap is actively participating in group saving. Starting in June 2011, the total group fund increased up to 1 million Riels (US $250), of which 38,500 Riels belongs to Sopheap. Within this period, Sopheap is able to cash 18,500 Riels as voluntary savings.
“Participation in the group activities gives me huge benefits as we are able to help each other when we face any problem. We can take loans with a very low interest rate from our group to do small business or ease any difficulty in the family,” she says.
Story by: Chheang Sok Mao, Northwest Regional Program Officer
Contribution by: Prak Somathy, Communication and Networking Manager
Sopheap feeds her pigs. She puts mosquito nets on the pen to protect the pigs from being bitten by mosquitoes that might affect the pig’s health.
Shopeap works at her kitchen garden. She plants vegetables for improving her family members’ nutrition.
Her daughter Sophea boils water for the family members drinking.
Heifer President and CEO Pierre Ferrari leaves for Haiti tomorrow to attend the opening of a new goat breeding center. Ferrari will be in Haiti from February 15-22 to preview Heifer Haiti’s new Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation (REACH) Project. The $18.7 million project will target more than 20,000 families in Haiti, working with goats, cattle, poultry, pigs and other agricultural inputs. The project will focus on moving families from hunger to self-sufficiency and further into small business development.
The new goat breeding center will house about 100 animals, which will be used to fortify local goat sock. The center, administered by the farmers’ association Tet Kole, was built as part of Heifer’s umbrella project for earthquake recovery. In addition to producing animals, it will help train farmers in animal husbandry, business development and management. The center opening on February 16 is a model for other breeding centers that will be created under REACH.
The REACH project will create 150 goat- and pig-breeding centers to increase the supply of quality animals in specific regions of Haiti. At least on-third of the centers will be run by women (or women’s associations), as part of Heifer’s commitment to the empowerment of all small farmers, especially women.
In addition to inaugurating the new breeding center, Ferrari will visit projects, meet with government officials and other international organizations. He will be accompanied by Oscar Castaneda, vice president of Heifer’s Americas Program.