- Our Work
- Get Involved
- Inside Heifer
- Ideas in Action
Heifer applauds and supports the vital work of disaster relief organizations. However, in times of crisis, it's important to explain the distinction between their work and ours.
Ever since our founder, Dan West, came up with the phrase "not a cup, but a cow," Heifer's approach to providing global assistance to struggling countries has been characterized by long-term development, rather than short-term relief.
After immediate needs for food, shelter, fresh water, clothing and other necessities have been met, Heifer works within communities to empower disaster survivors with the economic means - such as livestock, training and other resources - to rebuild their families, their neighborhoods and their hope for sustainable futures.
Here's how Heifer International works:
A typical Heifer project consists of three essential components:
And it all starts in a community.
First, Heifer helps a community group analyze their situation. They ask: What do we need? What are our resources? What would we like to see happen in five years? Then, they plan specific activities to achieve their goals.
At this point, the Heifer "living loan" becomes reality. Farmers prepare for their animals by participating in training sessions, building sheds, and sometimes planting trees and grasses.
Then the livestock arrives – bringing with it the benefits of milk, wool, draft power, eggs and offspring to pass on to another farmer.
Finally, the group evaluates its progress, and the cycle repeats as the group moves to more and more ambitious goals, each time visioning, deciding, implementing and reflecting.
Every family and community that receives assistance promises to repay their living loan by donating one or more of their animal's offspring to another family in need. This practice of "Passing on the Gift" ensures project sustainability, develops community and enhances self-esteem by allowing project partners to become donors.
This is Heifer's sustainable approach to ending hunger and poverty – one family, one animal at a time. It's not temporary relief. It's not a handout. It's securing a future with generations of people who have hope, health and dignity.