The Hernandez family lives in Ojo de Agua, a community in western Honduras that has retained many traditions from the indigenous lenca culture from which it came. Little more than a year ago, the family joined a Heifer project in Honduras in association with project partner APDI (Grassroots Association for Integrated Development).
"Thank God our family was selected (for the project),” said Beto Hernandez who has been a member of APDI for 13 years. “We are very happy with the support we have received from the project. We have received a lot.”
On May 21, 2010, the family received a cow from Heifer International, and the three Hernandez girls—Silvia Sarai, Santos Karina, and Rosa Linda—named it Estrella (star). She gave birth on November 28 to a calf the girls named Mario, after the man who sold the cows to the project. “He’s really cute,” said 7-year-old Rosa Linda, the youngest of the daughters.
“We also got a small credit in materials to build a shelter for the cow, vegetable seeds for the family vegetable garden and grasses,” Beto continued. María Alba Hernandez Reyes, Beto’s wife, adds, “And the materials that Heifer gave us to build a biodigester!”
Beto then explained the training he’s received. “In the educational part, I’ve received training in animal handling, animal medication and feeding, and in building shelters for the animals, setting up vegetable gardens and growing vegetables, educational field visits to share experiences. And we also received technical support."
“All that has helped us a lot since we didn’t know how to take care of or handle an animal, and I’ve shared all that with whoever needed to know about it—especially with my daughters and my wife. They have gotten very involved in the project, especially in helping out with caring for the calf. When I leave early to work, Alba is the one who does the milking. She usually gets between 10 and 12 liters of milk every day!! You know she milks better than me. She gets more milk than I do. She says she’s going to learn more so she can teach our girls. They are very happy, and it’s good that they learn how to do the project activities since, from the very beginning, we learned that Heifer works with the whole family.”
“We have received many benefits!” said Alba. “Our nutrition has improved because, before, we were only able to buy a liter of milk once a month and when (our neighbor) wanted to sell us some milk, it cost 12 or 14 lempiras. It was even less likely that we could have milk curd."
“Now, every day our cow gives us 10 to 12 liters, around 13 bottles. Some of that we consume, and sometimes we make curd out of around eight liters and get two or two-and-a-half pounds of curd. So we don’t eat just beans any more. And we share with the families who don’t have any. As usual, Beto goes to visit his mother every day. Before he didn’t take anything, but now every day he goes with a liter of milk. We have also produced some vegetables like radishes, cucumbers and squash and that also improves our diet. We sell what we don’t eat because there are families who need it because they have children. With the money we make from the sale, we have a small savings, 200 lempiras, which we will use to pay the loan for the animal shelter. And we will use 700 lempiras to buy two bags of animal feed for the cow. She gives to us so we also have to give to her.
God willing, we can help another family by giving them a cow.
“The project has helped us become more integrated as a family because we are all involved in caring for the animals, and we all know how to do what they have taught Beto. The most important thing is that the project has taught us how to share with others. That’s why our dream is that our daughters learn that (lesson) and, just like Heifer, APDI, and their technicians supported us, soon, God willing, we can help another family by giving them a cow.”