When I was given the opportunity to volunteer at Heifer International, I was thrilled because it was an opportunity to support a cause whereby I have personally witnessed its contribution towards alleviating poverty. In my own little way, I hope I can contribute towards the mission of Heifer International in ending hunger and poverty in the world.
My mother, Winifred Kuma, has always been known for her generosity in our community, no matter what the circumstances are. In 1993 she became a member of Heifer International Cameroon’s piggery project in Njinikom. Her uncle had passed away and her aunt was blind and unable to support and run the household. As a result, their eldest child was given the responsibility of supporting the household and looking after his four younger siblings. At that point in time the household income was minimal – only sufficient for basic food. The younger siblings had to leave school due to lack of funds in the household and their standard of living was reaching the poverty line.
Not wanting to see her loved ones suffer, my mother then joined Heifer International’s piggery project with the sole purpose of generating income to fulfill her cousin’s dream and uplift the family’s living conditions. She participated in Heifer’s intensive animal livestock training program and was later given a sow (female pig), which she named “Poppy.”
Within a year, Poppy had given birth to 10 piglets and so it was time to Pass on the Gift of a piglet to another member of the community. My mother sold the remaining nine piglets. Pigs can produce two litters of piglets per year. The income generated from every litter of piglets was accumulated as capital for her cousin’s tuck-shop. In Poppy’s fifth batch of piglets, my mother sold the entire litter with the exception of a healthy male and female. The male grew up to be healthy and strong; the villagers admired him so much so that he became the star of the village. Community members used to pay my mother for their sows to be impregnated by him, providing an additional form of income.
By the third year, my mother managed to accumulate $600, which was enough money to start a tuck-shop (small food store). She then gave the money to my cousin. The tuck-shop has proved to be a success. With the help of Heifer International, my mother was able to assist her cousins in improving their lives. Her cousin was able to send all his siblings to school and two of them are now at university. The shop is still running successfully.
This would not have been possible without the assistance of Heifer.
Editor’s note: Veronica Kuma’s family benefited from Heifer International Cameroon’s Njinikom project (1993). Now she is giving back by volunteering at Heifer International South Africa’s Read to Feed program. Veronica shared her experience and her family’s involvement with Heifer International.