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If you ask Heifer project partners, "What are the most fundamental principles upon which you build your life?" many would answer "Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development." Used for more than 65 years, these 12 Cornerstones guide communities to self-reliance.
Cornerstones stimulate group wisdom and personal insights, and they keep people's hearts, minds and actions balanced, focused and productive. Our 12 Stones video outlines the meaning and purpose of each Cornerstone, and their impact on our projects in the field.
|Passing on the Gift allows families who received Heifer gifts to become donors as they pass on these gifts to other families in need.||Genuine Need & Justice ensures that those most in need are given priority in receiving animals and training.|
|Accountability means that we are mutually accountable to the communities we serve for how we achieve common goals.||Improving the Environment through sustainable farming techniques, reforestation, and tree-saving biogas is at the core of our projects.|
|Sharing & Caring embodies the belief that global problems can be solved if everyone commits to sharing resources and caring for others.||Full Participation is expected by all participants. Leaders at the grassroots level should involve all members in decision making.|
|Sustainability & Self-reliance is the goal for families we work with so that they will continue to thrive after our support ends.||Training & Education are key to ensuring that animals are well cared for and that self-reliance is achieved by project participants.|
|Improved Animal Management means that project participants learn how to keep their animals safe, healthy and productive.||Spirituality is expressed in common beliefs about the value and meaning of all life, a sense of connectedness to the earth and a shared vision of the future.|
|Nutrition & Income are the rewards Heifer expects recipients to reap from their gift animal through the consumption and/or sale of products such as milk, eggs, cheese, honey and wool.||Gender & Family Focus encourages women and men to share in decision making as well as in the benefits the animals and training bring.|
IN ACTION: In what specific ways has someone helped you or your family in the last month? Perhaps someone pitched in with childcare during an emergency, brought over a meal or simply listened to a problem you were struggling with. Using the spirit of that gift, how can you pass it along to someone else in need? Whether reaching out to old friends or to a stranger, the idea is to help someone in the way you've been helped, a way that might not have occurred to you before.
IN ACTION: Genuine need exists everywhere, not just in developing countries. So does discrimination and bias. Be generous with your time and resources, and be mindful of respecting people from different backgrounds.
IN ACTION: We're all part of communities, from the family level to the global level, so we must be accountable for the resources we use and the actions we take. Taking responsibility for our place in the world can take many forms: Recycling, volunteering and taking a genuine interest in the people and happenings around you are just a few. Make a list of ways you can be accountable to your family, friends and community and refer to it throughout the year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Environmental degradation is a problem to which we all contribute, so we all have a responsibility to help the Earth heal. Be mindful of how your choices of what to eat, how to travel and where to live affect people, animals and ecosystems around you.
IN ACTION: Most of us have lots to share. Making a donation is an easy thing to do. Volunteering your time to help a nonprofit organization is great, too. But there are smaller ways to share and care that are also meaningful. Taking a meal to an elderly neighbor, offering an afternoon of babysitting to a tired parent or even just picking up litter so the park is nicer for everyone else are excellent ways to show you care.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Think about who will be affected by the decisions you make, and be sure those people's perspectives are taken into account. And more broadly, remember that the fight to end hunger and poverty calls us all to action. Educate yourself. Reach out. Donate. Enlist your friends.
IN ACTION: Be mindful of your weight on the planet. Could you tread more lightly? When you can, eat foods that are grown locally. Carpool or walk. Reuse and recycle. Be aware of the true price of what you buy. Was the person who made it fairly compensated? Was the air, water or soil polluted?
WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can't solve a problem if you don't know about it, so stay informed of what's happening around you, both locally and globally. Encourage children's curiosity. Support making decent education available worldwide.
IN ACTION: Training and preparation for livestock often takes the entire first year of a five-year Heifer project. Project participants learn animal health and husbandry, integration of livestock into the ecosystem and improvement of the environment. Preparations for animals include building shelters and planting fodder. Heifer also trains community animal health workers who can administer vaccinations and other medicines to keep gift animals healthy.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: It doesn't matter where you go (or don't go) to worship, all of the world's great religions call upon us to give. Contribute time, money, expertise and goodwill whenever you can.
IN ACTION: Be aware of the impact your diet has on others. Do you know how your produce was grown and harvested? Were the workers who picked and processed your food paid a living wage? Whenever possible, opt for locally and sustainably grown fruit, meat and vegetables.
IN ACTION: Encourage girls to study math and science, and support female entrepreneurs. Raise your sons to treat women as equals, and make sure you advocate education for both genders equally. Parents, teach your boys how to cook and teach your girls how to wield a hammer.