Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development. The term I heard more than often in everyday busy office hours.
All I knew of the Cornerstones was them being the base of Heifer International’s mission and principles. I presumed Cornerstones to be an ideology specific to Heifer. Every so often cramming the acronym Passing on the Gift to memorize all the 12 Cornerstones, a question always prodded me: What is the significance of Cornerstones? Why are these given so much prominence?
A year later I finally got an opportunity to attend the Cornerstones Training taking place at Alwar, Rajasthan, India. The training started with a candle-lighting ceremony. Interestingly, each participant had to light the other one’s candle. By the time the last partaker’s candle was lit, the training hall had kindled beautifully, exuding brightness and positivity reaching every corner of the room and perhaps the corner of our hearts as well! It was a sight!
Something inside me knew that it wasn't going to be just another training session.
I began to learn that the Cornerstones aren’t a principle or ideology specific to Heifer. Undoubtedly, the Cornerstones are an ideal way of living. They are like a belief or values, upon which we can build our life.
I got an opportunity to meditate and reflect on my own self, my thought process and outlook.
The 12 Cornerstones are as follows –
P-Passing on the Gift
S-Sharing and Caring
S-Sustainability and Self-reliance
I-Improved Animal Management
N-Nutrition and Income
G-Gender and Family Focus
G-Genuine need and Justice
I-Improving the Environment
T-Training, Education and Communication
A few of my favorite Cornerstones are Improving the Environment, Gender and Family Focus, and Sharing and Caring.
The games and exercises at the training helped me in understanding and absorbing the leanings of the Cornerstones. The thoughts reverberated in my head for the days to follow: thoughts of how I must change myself by being a better person and be a source of inspiration for others as well.
No matter how diminutive, some changes in me are clearly discernible. I take out time for family and address their concerns. I don’t litter and think twice before using an unrecyclable product. I’ve always been prompt at being of help to others, but now I go the extra mile to help someone in need.
In just a few days, I learned that the Cornerstones in Heifer’s perspective are time-tested principles and values that are followed in order to make development ecologically sound, socially just, culturally appropriate and economically viable. They constitute the holistic approach to development to which Heifer International will always aspire and strive for.
-Vineeta Sharma | Administrative Officer | Heifer India