Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth. Heifer at Hanukkah provides you a chance to donate a unique Hanukkah gift that keeps on giving.
By giving families a hand-up, not just a handout, we empower them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity, but our approach is more than that. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, we help bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.
Give the gift of an animal to those in need this Hanukkah. Our animals don’t just provide project partners with a reliable source of food, but also a reliable source of income. Excess agricultural products, such as milk from cows or goats, honey from bees or eggs from chickens, can be both shared within the community and sold at market. This new income, coupled with the training in sustainable practices that our partners receive, allows partners to clothe their families, provide them with medical care and send their children to school.
And when not just one but many families gain this new sustainable produce and income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural co-ops, and forming community savings and loan groups to help fund entrepreneurial start-ups. Newly formed women’s groups help increase the communities’ full potential, as neighbors who may have never interacted now come together to help the community prosper.
It’s a lofty goal, but it’s happening! In communities around the world, our model is helping people lift themselves from hunger and poverty. Below are just a few examples of some of the amazing successes our partners have been able to achieve.
Their names are Garfield and Mizeki — two precious little boys in Malawi. It was in December of 2001 that their grandfather, Daniel, received a cow from Heifer International, and our project partner SSLPP in Malawi, that he knew would be the key to Garfield and Mizeki’s future. You see, in the part of the world where Daniel and his grandsons live, a single cow can unlock many doors. And for little Garfield and Mizeki, a Heifer cow is giving them an opportunity that no one in their family has ever before had: the chance to grow up free from poverty.
Breaking the cycle of poverty was no easy task. But once again, the combination of one family’s hard work and equal generosity from Heifer supporters like you are proving that seemingly simple solutions often have the greatest results. Anyone visiting the village of Msonthi, Malawi, today will see ox carts, bicycles and healthy children going to school because families now have a steady source of income. But this was not always the case.
Before becoming a Heifer partner family, Daniel supported his family by growing corn and potatoes. But he was only able to save the equivalent of about $14 each year. “We were living hand to mouth,” he said. But thanks to his Heifer cow, Daniel is earning more than $100 every month from milk sales. In addition to milk, the cows produce a lot of valuable manure. Before this project Daniel could expect to harvest roughly one ox cart of maize per acre. However, because they now have so much manure, they can produce about two carts per acre — twice as much! In the garden where they grow their potatoes, they used to only be able to harvest one or two bags. Now they can get 10 bags per year out of the same land and are earning an additional $555 annually from potato sales.
Before Heifer, the family’s health suffered greatly. “It was difficult for us to find food every day,” recalls Daniel. They ate cornmeal porridge and pumpkin leaves. “We were very weak,” he remembers. After Heifer, their health is dramatically improved. Daniel says, “In the past my family was malnourished, but now with milk to drink they are not.” He adds, “They were getting ill frequently, but now that has all stopped.” It all adds up to one very grateful grandfather, two very healthy little boys and a very happy ending.
In the small village of Bodhimuha, India, lived a little girl named Milli, who was full of dreams. However, saddled with poverty, these dreams gradually began to dim. Despite all of the familiy’s financial difficulties, her parents were eventually able to give her a marriage ceremony with traditional gaiety. For a while she lived happily with her husband, but soon the honeymoon ended. Milli was tortured, physically abused, and even bitten by her husband. The incident disheartened Milli, and she divorced and returned to her parents’ home where she now resides.
Soon after returning home, she came into contact with a community organizer, who had formed a local Self Help Group (SHG). Milli immediately took to the idea, gathered a few women in her community, and formed a group named Siteleswari. She led it as the secretary, as she was the only literate member of the group.
This opened a new door for Milli. The group became involved in various entrepreneurial and social activities, conveying that “women were not alone if they combined in a group they can achieve anything”. She started a movement called “Quit Liquor”, which was aimed at preventing alcohol driven domestic abuse in her community. This personally helped her to heal from the abuse she had suffered during her marriage.
In 2010, the group became involved in a larger Heifer project. The Heifer approach introduced new concepts like “Passing on the Gift”; and Milli, with her group, received training in the 12 Cornerstones as well as the gift of 3 goats and plant saplings. Now, under the leadership of Milli, the group conducts monthly meetings, builds their savings, and reviews plans for further entrepreneurial endeavors. Milli also continues to pass on the gift to others, in the form of training and vegetables from her kitchen garden. Milli says that the “Heifer intervention opened my eyes and gives wings of hope to fly as I wish, everything is in a single garland in the shape of 12 cornerstones. I believe that I could do something for me and something for the society before I sleep”.
Mr. Duong Phu Dong lives with his wife, Mrs. Pham Thi Thuy , and their two children: their son, Duong Phu Dong; and daughter, Duong Thi Bao Ngoc, in Tan Binh commune, Tan Hung village, Mang Thit district, Vinh Long province, in southern Vietnam. Their life was full of difficult moments. “When we got married we were very poor,” said Duong Phu Dong. They had no animals of their own and paying even small bills was difficult.
One very unlucky day their home caught fire and burned to the ground. They lost almost everything. “We had to live in our pig sty for 2 years,” said Duong Phu Dong. Each of the four family members slept in a different pen. As though to prove that things can always get worse, Pham Thi Thuy fell ill and had to have surgery. The money they had been saving to rebuild the house had to be spent on her medical bills.
When Heifer International started a project in Tan Binh in 2010, Duong Phu Dong still had no animals, but he was eager to learn. He participated in many of the trainings Heifer offered, including: climate change, gender equity, Cornerstones, HIV, and cow, duck, mushroom and rice production.
Gifts of a heifer and a flock of ducks allowed Duong Phu Dong to start several entrepreneurial endeavors with his newfound stable income, But perhaps his biggest business decision was to start his cashew cleaning service. He has since radically altered his community by hiring 150 people. Now all together they process 6,000 kg of cashews per week, and their work generates more than $53,000 for the community. Duong Phu Dong keeps less than 5% for himself.
The Duong family is quick to point out that Heifer’s timely help was the catalyst for this rapid growth. “My family was very poor. Heifer gave us a good cow and funds so we could make more income,” said Pham Thi Thuy. “Heifer needs to make more projects in Vietnam so they can help more farmers to end hunger and poverty,” said Pham Thi Thuy. The Duong family’s accomplishments are remarkable. They embraced the opportunity that Heifer provided and have created something very special.