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Give Children a Chance to Grow Up Free from Hunger and Poverty
Help children around the world with your gift to Heifer.
Maria Castellones, of San Jose de San Lucas, Nicaragua, raised eight children all on her own, but life was difficult. Until recently Maria struggled to feed her children and young grandchildren, including Jissel 5, Francys 4 and Dixon 2.
But when Heifer International started a project in her village earlier this year, Maria immediately saw the opportunity she needed to help her grandchildren grow up free of poverty.
Any day now — it could even be today — Maria’s family will receive the gift of chickens or a pig from a compassionate Heifer supporter like you. What a wonderful, life-changing holiday gift that will be!
Maria’s story shows how each gift you make to Heifer can help a resourceful family transform their lives and provide their children and grandchildren with a future of hope, health and opportunity.
Just think how far the livestock and training you help provide can go in the hands of a struggling, but determined family!
The parents and grandparents that Heifer works with around the world are so eager to become self-reliant, so they can give their children the opportunities they never had.
Devoted Mother and Grandmother Goes the Distance
Most families in Maria’s village of San Jose de San Lucas, Nicaragua survive by growing and selling coffee. But the volatile nature of the coffee market has made it almost impossible for them to save money and become self-sufficient. It’s the same for small coffee farmers across Latin America.
Maria is a hard worker, but with eight children — and no husband to help with the farming, food was always in short supply.
Her family ate beans and coffee for breakfast, and beans and rice for lunch and supper. The lack of nutritious food was hardest on the youngest in the family, including Jissel, Francys and Dixon, who often were sick.
But when the grandchildren got sick, there was rarely enough money to get them treatment, and help was far away. “There is no hospital around here,” Maria says.
After a 20-minute walk to a bus stop, Maria would have to pay almost $1 for each person to ride to the hospital. For Maria, who used to earn only $6 a day selling coffee, that essentially put health care out of reach.
The lack of nearby clean water has also contributed to the family’s hardships.
Maria and her children have to make a one-hour trip to collect water. The big red jug that she carries on her head holds around five gallons, but her family needs six times that much water every day. So that’s up to six exhausting trips she must make each day for water!
Maria was desperate for an opportunity to escape poverty and provide better lives for her children and grandchildren. And, thanks to you and other caring Heifer supporters like you, she got not one opportunity, but two!
The first came when Green Mountain Coffee and Heifer International helped Maria and other coffee farmers in her village start a cooperative to grow organic coffee.
After picking, cleaning and drying the beans, Maria takes her café verde (green coffee) to the co-op, which sells it. Maria now gets 70 percent more for her organic coffee than she used to earn.
It was a great start — but Maria and her family still needed another sustainable source of food and income. They needed the simple solution that Heifer International has provided to empower millions of struggling families around the world to raise themselves out of hunger and poverty — livestock and training in its care.
Maria began a new chapter in her life this past August when she began her Heifer trainings. She learned about animal husbandry, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and other useful skills ...
... all in anticipation of the day when she will receive the gift of either 10 chickens and a rooster or one pregnant pig.
On that day, the lives of this entire family will be forever transformed.
Very quickly, there will be plenty of fresh eggs for Jissel, Francys and Dixon to eat each day. For the first time, Maria will have a sustainable source of income to buy food, medicines and other necessities and to send her grandchildren to school.
This gift, as it has for so many other families in need, will spark a lifetime of better nutrition, higher income and self-reliance.
Maria knows what a life-changing difference the animals will make. “We will be able to get more income,” she says. “We will sell the eggs or chickens when needed.”
Heifer is also exploring ways, such as the use of small cisterns and alternate forms of transportation, to improve access to clean water and lessen the burden on people like Maria, so they have more time to work their farms and provide for their families.
And soon, as all Heifer project partners do, Maria will get to experience the joy and dignity of sharing her blessings of hope, health and opportunity.
Just as compassionate friends like you extended her a helping hand when she needed it most, she will Pass on the Gift she receivesand extend her hand to another hopeful family in her village.
When she does, she will add another link to the global chain of hope and self-reliance that kind Heifer supporters like you are building.
And when her grandchildren, Jissel, Francys and Dixon, grow up healthy and strong and pursue their dreams, they will add links of their own — the impact of your support will multiply again and again.