September 12, 2013, was a special day for Heifer Ecuador. It was a day of celebration, emotion and joy-filled hearts as Heifer Ecuador celebrated 20 years of progress and impact. Heifer has a rich history of working, learning, and sharing with campesino organizations all over the Ecuadorian countryside. “Campesino” is a Spanish word used to describe farmers or farm workers who live in rural areas. Indigenous peoples and residents of villages in all 13 provinces of Ecuador have been impacted by Heifer.
The big day was celebrated at the National Museum of the Ministry of Culture where Heifer Ecuador hosted an Agroecological Fair to begin the festivities. People from 22 partner organizations arrived to participate.
Everyone was full of joy and enthusiasm as the fair began. Music and voices filled the air as vendors and buyers negotiated prices and examined various food products. The fair was a diverse event, with all types of produce and artisan crafts coming by sea and land—and all made from the hands of Heifer campesinas.
Participants discussed the human right to eat while using natural and healthy products. Along the stalls you could find so many products including fruits, vegetables, grains, flour, biscuits, bread, corn tortillas, sweets from the coast, medicinal herbs, seeds and crafts.
The fair hosted lectures and forums about agroecological farming and natural resource management from a campesino perspective, as well as the role and challenges of cooperation to support rural development.
Lunch was produced and prepared by partner campesinas. The meal included potatoes, fruit, ceviche, bread, alpaca meat, roasted guinea pig, crab, the local chicha drink, and many other native delicacies.
There was no shortage of dancing and music—but the love and enthusiasm that was spread throughout the fair is what really touched people’s hearts. Words of affection and gratitude could be heard throughout the day. Heifer was honored as the catalyst and inspiration for such great achievements for campesinos and organizations alike. All of the fair participants honored Heifer Ecuador, which gave resources and the spark of hope to their dreams and efforts.
Awards were presented to those who had contributed to rural development in the country. The celebration continued late into the evening with laughter and dancing to the sounds of local musicians.
Campesinos, indigenous peoples and colleagues from the mangroves who came made the day special by sharing this important milestone and celebrating with Heifer Ecuador.
Story and photos by Monica Navarrete, Assistant to the Country Director, Heifer Ecuador