Post written by Heifer International Writer Falguni Vyas and originally published December 26, 2011.
Boxing Day forever lives in the shadow of its much bigger, much older sibling, Christmas. This day after Christmas holiday is observed in most countries that were settled by the English (with the exception of the United States), and while no one really knows the true origins, it is a day celebrated by many.
Photo by zharth. Used under Creative Commons License.
Some say Boxing Day came about when King Wenceslas (of “Good King Wenceslas” Christmas Carol fame) was moved to charity when he saw a poor man gathering wood during a massive snowstorm on December 26th. From then on, this became the day the English poor received the most charity.
Another theory is that it’s a result of The Church of England’s Advent celebration. During Advent, Anglican parishes passed around boxes in which churchgoers put in monetary donations. Then, on the day after Christmas, the contents of the boxes were distributed among the poor.
Maybe it’s because traditionally the aristocracy gives out boxed Christmas presents and bonuses to their servants and staff? Servants and staff typically worked on Christmas Day and were given the 26th off to go home and celebrate the Holiday with their family.
In all honesty, no one really knows the true origins of this mysterious holiday. Each theory does share a common thread: helping the poor.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is that it’s a whole day dedicated to give back to those that are less fortunate, to the many families in the world that need a helping hand. In 1994, the country of South Africa went so far as to rename Boxing Day to “the Day of Goodwill”. This year, let’s all take a page out of their book and make a contribution in the fight to end hunger and poverty in the world; a world in which more than half of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
This December 26th shop the Heifer Gift Catalog. Not only will you make Good King Wenceslas proud, you’ll also be joining the ranks of millions of Brits and Australians who celebrate this day much like the way Americans celebrate Black Friday; by shopping up a storm.
With the Heifer Gift Catalog there are no lines, no shipping fees, no hassle. And as an added bonus, no gift-wrapping (and ironically no boxes) means you’ll be doing the Earth a favor, too.
When a family becomes a Heifer project participant, it almost always involves animals. We’re known around the globe for providing livestock and training to help smallholder farmers overcome hunger and poverty. These animals provide much-needed nutrition, but they also serve as catalysts that improve the family’s livelihood through the sale of wool, milk, honey, or the like, allowing a family to improve their living conditions and attain more education.
Mrs. Madeline Nole Quispe of Peru at her veterinary medicine cabinet. Photo by Jake Lyell, courtesy of Heifer International.
But these small farmers cannot do it alone. To keep their livestock healthy and viable, families need access to veterinary services and expertise; but in many countries this animal care is limited or non-existent. This is where community animal health workers come in. These “para-vets” learn valuable skills like animal health, husbandry, breeding, nutrition and housing, and they can fill an important need when local professional veterinary care isn’t available.
Irene Pandosen is a community animal health worker who helps Heifer project participants in the Philippines. Right after her training concluded in 2010, she was put to the test when almost all of the swine in her community were inflicted with a viral disease that affects pregnant pigs and causes miscarriage, premature birth, or even death of the mother and piglets. Irene coordinated closely with the provincial veterinary office to control the outbreak, and as a result, only four pigs owned by the project participants died (compared to more than 50 owned by non-members).
Irene with her family and sow. Photo by Jun Dom-oguen, courtesy of Heifer International.
“The epidemic was the turning point. [Prior to the outbreak] most of the families doubted my knowledge. They would ask me things about animal diseases and how to control them, and then go to the veterinarian and ask the same question to see if my answers and explanations were the same,” Irene said. “I take every opportunity to learn so that I can give good service. I talk to veterinarians and research every time I find an opportunity. I take learning as my responsibility to my group and to the community as well.”
Irene has gone on to become a local expert in artificial insemination. This technology means safer and more efficient breeding of pigs — farmers no longer need to transport large boars over poor roads and rugged terrain. Farmers pay Irene directly for her artificial insemination services, and she has seen her income increase about 15 fold as this enterprise has grown to include other members of her family.
Oh, just a hilarious video of some Ecuadorian sheep, an animated infographic explaining how agroecology works in the field, a recipe for Filippino bibingka and a slideshow of some of the cutest animals we’ve ever caught on camera.
Like this Peruvian alpaca…
Photo by Dave Anderson, courtesy of Heifer International.
Want to see more adorable Heifer animals? Click on the cute alpaca, then!
This time of year when so many of us are talking about trees — which one to buy, how does it smell, what happens if my dog eats the branches — we should all take a minute to say “thank you” to the life of a tree and the environmental protection they provide.
Photo by Geoff Oliver Bugbee, courtesy of Heifer International.
Trees are essential to life on Earth. Heifer recognizes their simple yet extraordinary virtues and gives many varieties of trees and saplings including acacia, fodder, forest and fruit to families in the communities where we work. And trees seedlings are Passed On to other families ensuring the sustainable cycle that’s key to Heifer’s development model.
Did you know?
Trees breathe out oxygen and breathe in carbon dioxide.
Trees hold water in the soil and moisture in the air.
Trees provide food and medicines for birds, animals and people.
Fast-growing trees put nitrogen back in the soil, serve as windbreaks and provide fodder, fencing, firewood and fruit.
Multi-purpose trees that families plant along the contours of hillside plots and between rows of crops can provide shade for animals and high-protein fodder.
So as a “thank you” to trees for how much they give us, I’m gifting trees to my friends and family this holiday season. Hope they breathe a little better.
It’s fall, and this is my favorite time of year. One of my favorite things about this season is spending time outside by a fire. If you’ve ever cooked over a campfire, you know it can be fun for a time, but let’s be honest — no one really enjoys getting smoke in their eyes. When I get back to “civilization,” I’m always thankful for conveniences like central heating and a modern kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
Now, I want to you to imagine that your only option for cooking is a fire — not an enclosed stove, but an open fire in a pit in the center of your dirt floor. You certainly grow tired of getting smoke in your eyes, but you have bigger problems: Your family begins to experience health problems after prolonged exposure to the smoke, and you live with the constant worry that one of your small children might fall into the fire.
In many of the places where Heifer International works, this is a daily reality. In addition to the health and safety concerns, there is the threat of deforestation as trees are cut for firewood. Moreover, the task of gathering firewood usually falls on women and girls. The time they spend at this chore could be better spent caring for their families or pursuing an education.
A biogas stove in Uganda in action. Photo by Russell Powell, courtesy of Heifer International.
But thanks to an ingenious thing called biogas, this is starting to change. Through a relatively-simple process, Heifer’s project participants can capture methane gas (a byproduct of livestock manure) and use it to power stoves, lanterns and even small generators. Our biogas program in Uganda recently received recognition from InterAction, which honored the program with its Best Practice award.
Although many of us take these things for granted, safe and clean means of cooking or lighting can have a tremendous impact on a family. In this video, a young family in Cameroon shows us around their small farm’s biogas plant, sharing a first-hand account of how this innovation is helping them break out of poverty and giving them hope for the future.
Today we celebrate Giving Tuesday, a day when we look past the flurry of traditional holiday shopping and think of ways to help those who are less fortunate. This year, Heifer International is offering biogas stoves in our holiday gift catalog, and for just $50 you can honor a loved one with a gift that will help a family get clean, reliable and efficient energy. So why not give a biogas stove today?Imagine the look on the face of that special someone when they realize they got a biogas stove for their holiday gift.
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.
Don’t get in your car to join the masses! Stay here online and get your Black Friday deals with Heifer’s online Gift Catalog.
From the comfort of your home, you can cross everyone off your shopping list with a gift from Heifer. My suggestion for where to start? Goats!
Goats are our most popular Gift Catalog item, and it’s easy to see why. They are funny and adorable. More importantly, these small animals can really help a farm family lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.
Smiling Goat wants you to shop Heifer for Black Friday deals! Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
Happy Thanksgiving! The Thanksgiving holiday has many meanings to people all over the country. What is Thanksgiving to your family? Do you spend time sharing what it is you each are thankful for?
Photo credit: muffintinmom, used under Creative Commons license.
As a Heifer International employee, I am grateful for you. For Heifer donors, supporters, volunteers and participants everywhere. I want to say Thank You for helping us do the important work of ending hunger, poverty and environmental degradation.
If you’re feeling extra generous on this day of thanks, I’d like to encourage you to consider making the gift of a Boost of Nutrition so that another family can be as fortunate as yours. While many of us are feasting, nearly a billion are going hungry. Today, you can do something to help.
Are you gearing up to go on the hunt for great Black Friday deals? Want to save yourself some trouble and avoid the trampling crowds this year? Ever thought about giving someone a goat?A goat is a great gift for anyone on your shopping list.
Heifer Has the Best Black Friday Deals
Okay, so we’re not running any discounts or BOGOs. That wouldn’t exactly be fair to our project participants. But I challenge you to find a deal on a gift at a big retail store that will delight your loved one AND change a hungry family’s life.
Aside from being my very favorite farm animal (why are they so awesome?), goats are the ultimate deal. Did you know more people in the world drink goats milk than cows milk? It’s no accident. Goats milk is easier to digest because its milk fats are smaller. Goats are also considerably easier to keep because of their compact size. Mama goats can have two to three goat kids per year for several years, which can be sold for profit or kept to quickly increase a family’s herd size.
But don’t just take it from me. Take it from one of our Heifer Haiti project participants:
Photo courtesy of Heifer International.
I am Deinage Pierre Gelerme. I am 54 years old and married with seven children: five sons and two daughters. Some of them go to school and some don’t. We don’t have enough money to send them all to school.
I received four female goats from Heifer. Two of them are pregnant. Not only did Heifer give me the goats, they also trained me on how to take care of them. I am taking good care of them now. With these goats, I hope to improve my life economically and feed my family better than before. I am very appreciative for the distribution of goats in my community. It is a good way to fight hunger and nutrition problems in the area.
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.