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Mr. Alyssi Eloundou Bathelemy and his wife Mrs. Kanse Ada Philomene
stand in front oftheir pig pen. Photos by Jake Lyell.

If Heifer animals are like "living savings accounts" for struggling families, the pig may well be the most interest-bearing. Each pig can provide a valuable source of protein, income from the sale of offspring and manure to nourish crops and soil.

Before receiving the gift of pigs and training in their care from Heifer supporters, Mr. Ayissi Eloundou Bathelemy and his wife Kanse Ada Philomene from Cameroon could hardly afford enough food for their six children and 13 grandchildren. Philomene almost died because she had no money to pay doctors, and her children were mocked for not being able to afford to go to school. Now she is able to plant watermelon, spinach and corn using the manure from her pigs as a rich, organic fertilizer. Their crop yields have improved so much that there has been enough money to pay for Philomene's hospital bills and school fees for the children. Before Heifer, they only earned about $225 a year. Now they're earning almost $750.

Fouda Marcelin, Bathelemy and Philomene's grandson.

Health Care
Pigs can have up to 16 piglets in a litter, and piglets usually double their three-pound birth weight in their first week. With so many piglets, families can sell them faster, which means money from their sale at market. For many families, this money pays for doctors' fees when health care is typically out of reach.

Resource Conservation
Pigs thrive on crop and garden waste and food scraps. Because of this, families don't have to dedicate much land to grow food for their pigs. That means more food for the family to eat or sell. This also contributes to less waste per family.

Better Local Economy
With livestock, families need veterinarians. That's why Heifer trains locals as Community Animal Health Workers so they can meet the needs of families raising livestock. Communities benefit from healthier pigs, so more families are lifted out of poverty as more pigs are passed on.

This holiday season, give a pig in honor of your Uncle Jim, the family accountant. And read more here about Heifer's work with pigs.

Corrections made to this post 12/14/11.


Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.