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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For the second year, Heifer International is celebrating its cornerstone value—Passing on the Gift, where families who receive an animal, seeds and training share the animal’s first-born female offspring—along with training and information—to another family, by declaring April Passing on the Gift Month.
“Passing on the Gift is Heifer’s differentiator,” said Charles Stewart, interim CEO of the organization. “It’s what makes us distinct, and it’s what makes our work successful.”
Like Heifer, other organizations offer people the opportunity to buy an animal as a gift for a family in need. But with Heifer, before that animal is gifted to a family in need—for milk or eggs or income opportunity—Heifer works with and educates the family about the animal’s welfare and utility.
Families must build a safe shelter for the animal, learn how to care for it, learn how to feed the animal without impacting the family’s food supply, and about zero-grazing techniques—feeding the animal in place to protect the land and environment, and to collect manure to use for fertilizer, which improves soil and pasture land.
“Our work is holistic and it’s long-lasting,” said Stewart. “We work with families for years, not weeks or months, and over time, as each family Passes on the Gift of their animal’s offspring and their education, an entire community benefits. So much so, that in time, when the project work comes to an end, the community is self-sustaining, growing its own food, tending the soil in earth-friendly ways, and raising healthy and helpful animals that provide milk, income and nutrition.”
That success is borne out in a five-year study by evaluators from Western Michigan University that stated, “It is beyond doubt that in all 20 of the countries we have examined, Heifer has brought large overall benefits to very large numbers of low-income rural families.”
During April last year, there were more than 200 Passing on the Gift ceremonies in towns and villages around the world—from Nepal to Uganda to Poland to Ecuador. Heifer families shared the gift of dairy cows, dairy goats, alpacas, water buffalo, as well as worms and trees and bees and other animals to help new families start them on their road to self-reliance.
This year, to celebrate, Heifer is inviting the public, congregations, organizations—everyone—to join the celebration by hosting an international meal for friends or family, or organizing a community event at a restaurant, club or coffee shop to draw attention to Heifer’s work to end hunger and poverty. Or show “12 stones,” a film by Sandy Smolen about a group of women in Nepal and the powerful impact that Heifer has had on their lives. The DVD is available free from Heifer by calling 1-800-422-0474.
People can also support Heifer’s work by making a unique animal gift—www.heifer.org/catalog—or joining Heifer’s monthly giving program. Either or both will help provide support to start new families toward a life of greater security and hope.
For other ideas, please visit, www.heifer.org/passonthegift.
Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 55 countries, including the U.S., to help families and communities become more self-reliant.
For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.