What if Heifer International could improve the lives of tens of thousands of families in one country where 65% of the population is considered to be living in poverty (living on less than $2 a day)? What if there were a development model built on deep, emotional and powerful human values that could unite once-struggling individuals into communities, turn them into donors, and grow the most successful development model the world has ever seen?
What if I told you all of the above is already happening in Nepal? Would you believe me? What would it take to convince you? Heifer CEO Pierre Ferrari, in Nepal this week with Mahendra Lohani, vice president for Asia/South Pacific programs, met with the Heifer Nepal staff on Tuesday to set the framework for project visits to remote areas of Nepal where Heifer's success has so startled Nepali government officials they are using Heifer's model as their own.
Lohani, who was the first country director for Heifer Nepal in its infancy in 1993, this week will show Ferrari projects across Nepal with the potential to reach perhaps hundreds of thousands more families. Believe it? You should. Ferrari's focus, as it has been since he became CEO just a few months ago, is to thoughtfully take Heifer's success to a greater scale, with greater speed, while keeping a clear focus on the context of Heifer's vision. He didn't say it would be easy, but he does see the potential is there.
"Nepal is the example of how successful Heifer's model is," Ferrari said at a meeting at Heifer Nepal's home office in Kathmandu. "Why do many of our projects serve 100 or fewer families?" he asked. "What about the other 900 or 99,000 families we could be helping?"
Country Director Shubh Mahato and Senior Program Manager Neena Joshi and other staff members shared the triumphs and challenges of a powerful, cutting-edge program with one goal: To lead communities to self-sufficiency within a few short years.
How do we work better and faster to achieve that? Ferrari also asked. He hopes to find out more on project visits this week. Check back in as we share with you the tough questions being asked and reality of our work in the field through blog posts and video clips. We look forward to your comments and suggestions on how Heifer and its partners, hard-working small farmers around the world, can realize their greatest potential.
Photo by Geoff Oliver Bugbee