Their names are Garfield and Mizeki — two precious little boys in Malawi. It was in December of 2001 that their grandfather, Daniel, received a cow from Heifer International, and our project partner SSLPP in Malawi, that he knew would be the key to Garfield and Mizeki's future. You see, in the part of the world where Daniel and his grandsons live, a single cow can unlock many doors. And for little Garfield and Mizeki, a Heifer cow is giving them an opportunity that no one in their family has ever before had: the chance to grow up free from poverty.
Breaking the cycle of poverty was no easy task. But once again, the combination of one family's hard work and equal generosity from Heifer supporters like you are proving that seemingly simple solutions often have the greatest results. Anyone visiting the village of Msonthi, Malawi, today will see ox carts, bicycles and healthy children going to school because families now have a steady source of income. But this was not always the case.
In fact, from the moment we arrived in the community, we could tell the situation there was desperate. Most families were experiencing chronic malnutrition, malaria and diarrheal disease — three of Africa's leading childhood killers. We quickly took action. Daniel was one of 30 families in this remote village who signed up for a dairy project.
Before becoming a Heifer partner family, Daniel supported his family by growing corn and potatoes. But he was only able to save the equivalent of about $14 each year. "We were living hand to mouth," he said. But thanks to his Heifer cow, Daniel is earning more than $100 every month from milk sales. In addition to milk, the cows produce a lot of valuable manure. Before this project Daniel could expect to harvest roughly one ox cart of maize per acre. However, because they now have so much manure, they can produce about two carts per acre — twice as much! In the garden where they grow their potatoes, they used to only be able to harvest one or two bags. Now they can get 10 bags per year out of the same land and are earning an additional $555 annually from potato sales.
To look at Daniel's family before and after they received their cow is like night and day. Before Heifer, they lived in an old, one-room house with a leaky thatched roof and mud walls. After Heifer, Daniel was able to build what he describes as "a good house made of bricks with a tin roof." It is strong, clean, safe, and as Daniel's daughter, Rebecca, adds, "It doesn't leak."
Before Heifer, the family was often embarrassed by their shabby clothing. "In the past it was difficult for me to clothe my children," Rebecca recalls. After Heifer, they can now afford to buy some basic clothing without having to cut back on other essentials like food and medicine. They ate cornmeal porridge and pumpkin leaves. "We were very weak," he remembers.
Before Heifer, the family's health suffered greatly. It was difficult for us to find food everyday. Daniel, Malawi
After Heifer, their health is dramatically improved. Daniel says, "In the past my family was malnourished, but now with milk to drink they are not." He adds, "They were getting ill frequently, but now that has all stopped." It all adds up to one very grateful grandfather, two very healthy little boys and a very happy ending.
Daniel also knows that his actions today will be felt for generations to come. He became a donor when he passed on his first calf to another family. Daniel's cow has since given birth two more times — growing Daniel's herd, providing more milk to drink or sell, and ensuring very bright and promising futures for Garfield and Mizeki.