Written by Gail Newirth of Elanco
Toss a pebble in a still pond and watch the ripples spread. We spent Thursday visiting the Elanco /Lilly Foundation funded project in Weichang County, then shared a special dinner with our project partners and local officials. As I tried to process the events of the day, I imagined the widening ripples on a pond. Heifer International is tossing pebbles in ponds all over the world and when Elanco and the Lilly Foundation partner with Heifer, we get to toss in a few more along with them.
Heifer partners with local NGOs and project participants in struggling communities to provide broad based training and the gift of animals and agricultural support. And there is always one requirement, that each recipient of an animal commits to "passing on the gift" by giving the first healthy offspring to another struggling family. That cycle is repeated many times. Communities are transformed as participants move from being recipients to donors, gaining the dignity and pride that comes from being able to help someone else. Ripples on a pond.
That night as I listened to heartfelt toasts from new friends around our table, i learned about more gifts that are being passed on. The NGO that works on the project in our community has also been changed. They see first hand the results of this holistic development model and implement it in their own organization and in non-Heifer projects. Local government officials are moved by the dedication and hard work of the community and the NGO partner, and they redouble their efforts to support the area and ensure its continued success. The local and regional Heifer staff sees the changes and are even more committed to the work that they do every day. More ripples.
Thursday employees representing Elanco China, Lilly China, the Lilly Foundation and Greenfield based Elanco employees played a small part in a life changing event for families in our China project. We were given the extraordinary opportunity to personally hand beef heifers to 6 of our project families - animals that can transform their lives and sustainably lift them out of poverty. We spent time with individual families in their homes and heard about their struggles and their dreams. We learned firsthand a little more about the impact of that pebble we tossed into the pond.
We'll go back home changed by our experiences here. Our charge is to pass on a small part of the gift we received as we witnessed the work that is being done. More ripples.