Two years ago, Heifer International’s partner, IDEAS, was promoting a livelihoods project in a community in Peru. The project, Building Sustainable Livelihoods in Piura's Dry Forest Community, was an opportunity 42-year old Maria Esmelda decided she couldn’t pass up, so she signed up.
Esmelda recounts her experience as a participant, “The first workshop I attended was about sheep. I learned about the diseases of sheep and how to care for them. After participating in the project for several months, I received five sheep. It was a beautiful experience receiving the sheep and taking care of them. I was very happy because I knew that eventually, after a lot of hard work, I would be able to share this gift that was given to me. I passed on six sheep and I kept my original five sheep. I sold the male offspring and kept the females to continue breeding them. Occasionally, I will sell a female sheep if we have a desperate need for money. For example, when the rice harvest was coming in and we didn’t have money to pay our workers, we sold a female and paid the workers.”
Esmelda’s enthusiasm led her to more workshops. After attending a goat workshop, she received five goats. She also participated in an organic fertilizer workshop and now grows beets, carrots and cabbage in her vegetable garden. She learned the health benefits of the vegetables at a nutrition workshop and now makes sure her family has plenty of vegetables to eat. “At home, our nutrition has improved,” she said. “My children have a better diet and I am confident that we will have vegetables to eat. Since I grow the vegetables, I know that they are organic and do not have any contaminants that will harm my children.”
Esmelda’s family supports her involvement in the project. Her children even helped her create an irrigation system for the garden. Esmelda and her husband always talk about new varieties of vegetables that can be grown on their land. She is excited about all of the skills she has received through the workshops and training. She looks to the future where she will continue to gain knowledge and have the chance to pass it on to others who are in need.
- Jessica Ford
The end of hunger isn’t a fairy tale
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