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Download the Heifer Guatemala Study Tour Journal, "Diary of the Study Tour: Discovering the Cuchumatanes," dated November 11 - November 20, 2008.
Story and video by Eric Willinghan, Elanco
Elanco representative Eric Willinghan traveled to Uganda in 2008 as part of a Heifer Study Tour. What follows is some of his reflections from the trip as the first installment of the ongoing Elanco in the Field series.
In this video taken by Eric Willinghan, Ugandan villagers sing and dance during a visit by Heifer staff. In Africa, where so many have suffered over the last two decades, few countries have suffered like Uganda. Ripped apart by warfare and crushing poverty, Uganda is a country in which the very social fabric has been torn, but its spirit is inspiring.
SOME OF MY FIRST MOMENTS IN UGANDA were spent in a taxi. The driver told me he was wary of a group that claims success from merely giving someone a little milk everyday. I was not prepared to rebuff his statements, but I quickly learned that Heifer International does so much more than give “a little milk.”
When you think “Heifer,” you immediately think of cows and possibly the milk those cows produce, but you may not be aware of what milk really means to a struggling family. When properly cared for, Friesian cattle can produce four or five times as much milk as a typical African cow. This is why Heifer places such importance on training those who receive animal gifts.
Milk means protein in your diet. And milk at such high volume means an opportunity for extra income. Cows also provide manure, which can be used to fertilize crops and to make biogas, a safe cooking fuel.
Heifer empowers by providing a sense of self-worth and self-sufficiency. Participants would look at me and say, literally, “I was for dead in the streets, sick and homeless. Now look at me. You can’t tell me from the healthy.”
But the ultimate feeling of self-worth comes from acting as a provider. Through Passing on the Gift, a mother could, in only a few years, move from losing children to malnutrition to giving the life-changing gift of a Heifer animal to another family in need.
Parents, as a rule, desire to provide a better life for their children then they had for themselves. We asked Ugandan farmers we visited with what the most powerful change has been in their lives since Heifer, and they all said it was the education for their children. An education is attainable through a Heifer gift animal.
For almost 65 years, Heifer has been helping end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. They’ve spent more than 25 years in Uganda.
Just as soil is prepared and worked before planting, Heifer prepares a community before it receives animals and training. Heifer monitors and assists participants and doesn’t just walk away.
Heifer can overcome the hurdles to sustain a project of any size.
Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly and Company, is a global research-based company that develops products to improve the health and production of animals. With offices in more than 30 countries, Elanco products enhance animal health, wellness and performance for the food industry and companion animals.
Company profile Adapted from Elanco.com