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At home in arid environments, camels provide plenty to needy families who have few resources. Aside from the nutritious milk and transportation they provide, camels are easy on the environment. They eat leaves and trees and not precious grasses that need to be saved for other livestock.

Isaya Shakwet. Photos by Jake Lyell for Heifer International.

Sabina and Isaya Shakwet live in the rural Maasai village of Mkuru, Tanzania, where 12 camels donated by Heifer supporters were sent. At first, the camels mostly provided families with much needed milk (which has three times the vitamin C as cow's milk) and transportation. But through Passing on the Gift, there were soon 26 camels in the community. And that's when they had the idea to team up and start the Mkuru Camel Safari Cultural Tourist Program. "Through camels we get a lot of income," said Isaya gratefully. "It helps children with education fees. We pay doctors once a month to come out and give medical care to pregnant and nursing women."


Transportation
For nomadic people like the Maasai in Tanzania, camels have lightened the load. Families have trained camels to plow and haul firewood, as well as crops to be sold at markets.

Shelter
Income from the sale of surplus milk can help pay school and doctor fees. But families can also take the money to make improvements to their homes–including solid roofing.

Microenterprise
Recipients of Heifer camels are recognizing the business opportunities that their camels provide. Extra income has allowed one group to launch a cultural program for tourists. The camels provide the transportation for the safari through rural Tanzania.

This holiday season, give the gift of a camel to your daughter, who repeatedly made you sing the song, "Sally the Camel (has five humps" when she was 2. And read more about Heifer's work with camels.

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She has a master's in social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She is married, a mother of two, and a wannabe urban farmer, raising her own chickens and killing most of her vegetable crops.