I had been curious about Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development since my first glimpse of the acronym on the day I was interviewed as Finance Manager at Heifer Philippines.
I had been casual about it and just made sure I remembered that the phrase PASSING ON THE GIFT is an acronym of the values the organization adheres to. That is, until I attended a Heifer Cornerstones workshop with fellow new Heifer staff from other country programs in Cambodia.
I was impressed by the opening rite of candle lighting, which elicited deep respect and solemnity to the nuances of the workshop. The discussion on the different Cornerstones made me more reflective of my own values.
I have seen and processed poverty differently. I know that poverty exists—it is everywhere from where I am, having been born and raised in a developing country. My mindset has been that poverty is just a temporary state and does not necessarily remain that way if one knows how to get out of it. When I see people looking poor, I feel cynical about whether to take it for face value. Living in the city has also made me aware of syndicates making use of the poor street children to extort money from pedestrians and commuters.
Of the 12 Cornerstones, Sharing and Caring really caught my attention. It made me think deeper about what I have been through in life and where I am right now—even more so when we visited Heifer Cambodia project communities as part of the workshop’s immersion.
The turning point was when I came face to face with a partner family. In my mind, she represented deprivation and poverty that I had never before imagined. Here is a poor woman and her family, living in abject poverty but so full of hope and promise, determined to pass on the same gifts received from the project to another needy family, determined to give help to others despite her own circumstances. In that moment I felt embarrassed by my own perception of poverty, much more embarrassed by the fact that soon these families will be donors themselves; and here I am taking poverty in stride.
That episode was a life-changer. It totally shifted my paradigm to what Sharing and Caring is all about. Where before I lived without caring whether I made a difference in other people’s lives, that day I vowed with great resolve to share whatever I can with the needy. I will sincerely give, and more.
Upon returning home, I offered a scholarship for a technical course to the son of a tenant working on my small farm. I realized that small things I take for granted can mean the world to other people.
Since visiting a Heifer project, I see with a different lens. I see the world as full of opportunities for the less fortunate, if only we can see poverty ending through Sharing and Caring.
Editor’s note: This reflection was written by Heifer Philippines Finance Manager Timoteo Basit after he attended a Cornerstones Workshop in Cambodia’s Siem Reap Province in April of 2013. The photo is from the workshop; Timoteo is the third from the right in the green shirt.