On the final day of 2013, members of the Improving Livelihoods in the Poorest District of Soc Trang Province project’s self-help group (SHG) #1 warmly welcomed the Gluckman family to Phu Tam commune, Chau Thanh district. The married couple and their two children were vacationing in Vietnam and wanted to visit a Heifer project. They have been donating to Heifer International for 20 years.
SHG #1 consists entirely of Khmer people–an ethnic minority who account for 35 percent of the population of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. The Gluckmans were the first foreign visitors for the excited group of Khmer people–who proudly introduced the family to their culture through a greeting of spirited dance and singing.
One-by-one, each SHG member confidently stood to introduce themselves and share a bit about their personal transformation through the Heifer project. The Gluckmans heard stories of improved farming that gave way to increased income–achievements made despite bleak economic conditions. In just under a year, the SHG group was formed and received gifts of beef cattle and a revolving fund. Members attended trainings where they learned valuable skills and the inspiration to work quickly to turn Heifer’s support into wonderful, life-changing gifts.
“I don’t know what to say,” Judy Friedman-Gluckman shared. “My family and I are completely overwhelmed by everything. Heifer’s work in Vietnam and the SHG are fantastic.”
Nine-year-old Leia Friedman made bracelets for the children in the community. She also gave them pencils, pencil sharpeners and Vietnamese–English books. She used a Polaroid camera to take photos of the families she met and offered the instant snapshots to them as gifts. These little gifts from a little girl who flew 20 hours to visit this remote corner of the world are much larger and more meaningful than their size. They symbolize the spirit of Sharing and Caring, despite the barrier of language and geographical distance.
Story and Photos by Nguyen Xuan Quyen, Communication and Networking Officer, Heifer Vietnam
Editor's Note: The following came from a post-trip email from Judy Friedman-Gluckman:
"Thank you for everything. It really was such a phenomenal experience. I have known, all along, about Heifer's impact and have met Heifer recipients before, but seeing the people in their community really blew me away. Having had some time to reflect, I really think I was most impressed by their sense of confidence and dignity. I think that comes not only from being self-sufficient, but from having the opportunity to help others. I look forward to our next Heifer adventure!"
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We were extraordinarily blessed to be raised in the Rocker family. As children our parents were always involved at church and in the community at large, contributing their time, talents and money whenever possible. We all grew up with that example and as adults try to emulate our parent’s generosity, though it’s doubtful we can even come close. When we were younger, our Christmas celebrations were more about being together than they were about gifts. But as happens quite often, our small family Christmas celebrations grew as the family grew into a huge party with gifts stacked everywhere. While everyone certainly enjoyed the gift exchange, Christmas was beginning to lose some of its magic for us as a family. Last summer, as our mom was beginning her preparations for the annual celebration, she became depressed about it and prayed for ideas to plan something that would hearken back to those wonderful Christmas celebrations of the past. During her reflection she remembered one of the grandchildren requesting a flock of chickens through Heifer International for her birthday a few years ago. Thinking on a grand scale, this inspired her idea for providing the Ark in 2015. We were all on board and within a short time she had raised the entire amount needed to sponsor the project. At the family Christmas party, instead of endless time spent opening gifts, we spent time together and mom read a version of the Nativity story that focused strongly on the animals present that night. She then explained to the younger children how the animals we provided would so greatly help others, which sparked wonderful conversation with the children. We all agreed this was the best Christmas we had shared in years and look forward to planning more Christmas projects together.
Recently, Heifer received a letter from Kathleen M., a long-time Heifer International donor and a Special Education teacher in California. In the letter she shared that this year, instead of giving her students traditional holiday gifts, she wanted to teach her students why she loves to give to Heifer. After passing around Heifer's "Most Important Gift Catalog in the World," Kathleen held a nomination for the animal her students most wanted to donate to Heifer. The classroom decided on a pig and a few other smaller donations. As a thank you for participating, she passed out kid-friendly honor cards, asking her students to draw what Heifer means to them. For the next week or so, we will be sharing their drawings with you. We hope you enjoy looking at their depictions of Heifer's mission as much as we did!
Submitted by Angelinah | California
Submitted by Carlos | California
The poor are not responsible for their poverty and misery. Most of them struggle in conditions that are subhuman, dangerous, full of disease, hunger and despair.Pierre Ferrari
Congratulations to Crystal Marufo whose story of quitting smoking to raise an Ark for Heifer appeared in the Holiday 2015 issue of the World Ark! The Christmas Eve offering at her church, the Goshen City Church of the Brethren, helped her reach her goal. In one year’s time, Crystal and the friends she has inspired have raised the money for an Ark. Thanks, Crystal, for your dedication and perseverance! And thanks to all who contributed after reading the article. You have been an inspiration to Crystal, as well.
Submitted by Gracie | Maryland
Submitted by Anna Giulia | Age 9 | NYC
This year for Christmas I offered my almost 7-year old granddaughter three options for her Christmas gift. 1) She could have a big present for herself. 2) She could have a smaller gift and send an animal or group of animals to a boy or girl in another country who doesn’t have as many things as we do. 3) She could just send animals and not get a gift for herself. Click on the title of this story to read more!
Collection of information from all three communities complete! Using an innovative, practical methodology developed by Fundación Paraguaya, Poverty Stoplight.
Sahel communities have now been identified for reference and participation in the prototype program.
There are a number of reasons we chose the Sahel for this prototype, including the people we work with and the relationships we're building.
Submitted by Faith | Age 9 | Colorado
Throughout the month of December, the SoulShine day school and after school programs learned about Heifer International and the different animals and opportunities that can be gifted to families all over the world. Ages 2-12 looked at the magazines, materials, and lesson plans about farming and raising livestock. On December 17 we held a market and raised over $100 for Heifer International by selling goods we made together. The children made all the products including vegan cinnamon buns, dream pillows, necklaces, candles, and more. The SoulShine school tripled our donation amount to $320 and we bought 4 baskets of hope and 1 goat from Heifer International. During this month of learning with Heifer International, one of my favorite activities was having our 2-year old students identify animals that live in the wild and animals that live on the farm. It was fun to show them pictures of farm animals using Heifer International images and then play sounds of the animals. The 2-year old students were asked to identify the sounds of ducks, chickens, cows, pigs, and more. We all giggled and learned that we can share these gifts with families in need. Thank you Heifer International. Submitted by Andrea Zoppo
Submitted by Addison | Age 8 1/2 | Colorado
Received in the beginning of December 2015, the below letter was sent into Heifer International from Pam Nemeth, proud mother of Jake Nemeth, co-founder of The Giving Garden and recently inducted Eagle Scout. There was no way we at Heifer were going to allow Jake's hard work and dedication to go unacknowledged. We'd like to allow Pam's words to tell you more about Jake's Eagle Project, so without further ado... (Click the title of this story to read more!)
Dear Heifer International, Enclosed are multiple checks for Heifer International. Thank you for allowing us to extend a helping hand. The kids in Science Hill Friends Sunday School class, grades four through six, wanted to make a difference in the world, if only a small one. This year, instead of exchanging gifts with each other, we chose to raise money for Heifer International. The class wanted to raise enough money to purchase a cow for a family in need. They all agreed theyw ould not receive a gift from their teacher and vise versa and their project would be funded with that money. They made pottery plates and filled them with homemade cookies and designed a tee shirt ("Because I gave up one Christmas gift a family is able to eat for a month!"). Pottery plates/cookies and tee shirts were sold for $10 each. One hundred percent of the proceeds were donated to Heifer International. Our church, Science Hill Friends agreed to match whatever we raised. We raised $560.00, therefore there are check enclosed totaling $1,120.00. We appreciate this opportunity to learn, share and be grateful. Thank you! Friends, Haven, Hgnat, Kara, Kaley, Annabelle, Silas, Mackenzie & Tammy Submitted by Tammy G.
Submitted by Lucy | Age 8 | Massachusetts | "I am 8 years old. I am happy that some people will get to have chicks and animals and then more and more people can live well and have enough to eat."