LITTLE ROCK, Ark. For the second year, Heifer International is celebrating its cornerstone valuePassing on the Gift, where families who receive an animal, seeds and training share the animals first-born female offspringalong with training and informationto another family, by declaring April Passing on the Gift Month.
Passing on the Gift is Heifers differentiator, said Charles Stewart, interim CEO of the organization. Its what makes us distinct, and its what makes our work successful.
Like Heifer, other organizations offer people the opportunity to buy an animal as a gift for a family in need. But with Heifer, before that animal is gifted to a family in needfor milk or eggs or income opportunityHeifer works with and educates the family about the animals welfare and utility.
Families must build a safe shelter for the animal, learn how to care for it, learn how to feed the animal without impacting the familys food supply, and about zero-grazing techniquesfeeding the animal in place to protect the land and environment, and to collect manure to use for fertilizer, which improves soil and pasture land.
Our work is holistic and its long-lasting, said Stewart. We work with families for years, not weeks or months, and over time, as each family Passes on the Gift of their animals offspring and their education, an entire community benefits. So much so, that in time, when the project work comes to an end, the community is self-sustaining, growing its own food, tending the soil in earth-friendly ways, and raising healthy and helpful animals that provide milk, income and nutrition.
That success is borne out in a five-year study by evaluators from Western Michigan University that stated, It is beyond doubt that in all 20 of the countries we have examined, Heifer has brought large overall benefits to very large numbers of low-income rural families.
During April last year, there were more than 200 Passing on the Gift ceremonies in towns and villages around the worldfrom Nepal to Uganda to Poland to Ecuador. Heifer families shared the gift of dairy cows, dairy goats, alpacas, water buffalo, as well as worms and trees and bees and other animals to help new families start them on their road to self-reliance.
This year, to celebrate, Heifer is inviting the public, congregations, organizationseveryoneto join the celebration by hosting an international meal for friends or family, or organizing a community event at a restaurant, club or coffee shop to draw attention to Heifers work to end hunger and poverty. Or show 12 stones, a film by Sandy Smolen about a group of women in Nepal and the powerful impact that Heifer has had on their lives. The DVD is available free from Heifer by calling 1-800-422-0474.
People can also support Heifers work by making a unique animal giftwww.heifer.org/catalogor joining Heifers monthly giving program. Either or both will help provide support to start new families toward a life of greater security and hope.
For other ideas, please visit, www.heifer.org/passonthegift.
Heifers mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 55 countries, including the U.S., to help families and communities become more self-reliant.
For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.