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Following a recent Heifer Study Tour to Honduras, Virginia Tech students were given an assignment: Choose one photograph from the trip and explain why you chose it and which of Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development it embodies. Over the course of this week, we’ll share these images and words to give you a look at how much of an impact seeing Heifer’s work in the field can have. Read other posts in the series here.

Thrift ensures security

Nate Foust-Meyer, Crops, Soils & Environmental Sciences, VA Tech: The difference between ingenuity and necessity became blurry during my time in Honduras. The bio-digester we helped install was built gracefully. Pieced together with old tires, pvc , plastic sleeves, and a coke bottle it was effective, rustic and beautiful. It was seldom clean cut, but always worked and always used materials efficiently. In this image a heifer is feeding on corn stalks. The red apparatus in front of it is used to remove the outer fruit from the coffee beans. Since the picture was taken in March, the end of the coffee season and therefore the time when income begins to shrink, families whose only source of income or sustenance is coffee will likely begin to grow hungry--but others, like the one that this cow belongs to will do better. The education, training, and sense of empowerment that comes with a heifer project also brings a sense of security; knowing that their food is available and not unaffordable  has freed the people in this community from the bondage of worry and fear. The sense of constant thrift and inventiveness is necessary to the people of rural Honduras. They use the supplies they have to feed those they love as best they can. It is their thrift that ensures their security.

Food Sovereignty on Horseback

Rial Tombes, Enviromental Policy & Planning, VA Tech: This picture was taken on the first day that we arrived in Trinidad de Copan. It was Tuesday evening, around 5:00, and one of the first things we did was walk down the dirt road from our hostel to visit the town boot maker. The Boot shop was small. A few people in our group decided to buy a pair. Those not getting their feet sized were milling around outside. It started to drizzle. We were still getting used to our surroundings and because of that felt like it was ok to look over walls into people’s backyard and look at their chickens, goats, pigs, etc.

In the distance, the group started to see a man riding down the road atop his horse carrying a bundle of corn. I can only imagine that he was on his way home from a long day of work in the fields. This man provided us all with a reminder that we were in Honduras, where having goats in your backyard, riding to and from work on horseback, and waking up to the crowing of multiple town rooster was normal. After our long journey from Tegucigalpa to Trinidad, it was this moment where I understood that I was not in Virginia anymore. I believe the CAFS cornerstone, Food Security and Food Sovereignty is showcased beautifully in this picture. This man is living his life with the hope of providing for his family and contributing to a strong local economy. Also the Heifer cornerstone, Sustainability and Self Reliance, is represented here because somebody had to harvest to corn and bring it to market or to the family table.


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.