The Oklahoma and Arkansas Region of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is pleased to support Heifer International as our Honors in Action Project this year. As we learn about rights and responsibilities, we have an opportunity to put what we learn in action by joining together to help families in need. Our goal is to raise $5,000 - enough to provide a Gift Ark!
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Phi Theta Kappa believes that the opportunity to develop leadership and service are crucial to an intellectual climate for exchange of ideas and ideals. And this year, the Oklahoma/Arkansas Region is excited to support Heifer International as our Regional Honors in Action Project. Heifer International has already lifted more than 20.7 million families out of poverty.
Heifer’s approach is unique in that they give families a hand-up, not just a handout. Their model is simple and it works: Heifer provides livestock and training to a family facing poverty; that family shares the knowledge they receive along with the first female offspring of their livestock with another family, extending the impact of the original gift. As these families achieve self-reliance, entire communities are uplifted.
Our goal is to raise $5000 - enough to buy a Gift Ark! - or two water buffaloes, two cows, two sheep and two goats, along with bees, chicks, rabbits, and more. This will help:
Care for entire communities with milk, eggs, honey and wool
Provide income by supplying an abundance of goods to sell
Sustain farming by providing livestock to work the land
Improve the lives of families for generations by multiplying and Passing on the Gift®
It's a lofty goal - but we believe we can achieve it! And together we can help lift families out of hunger and poverty!
Just a couple of years ago, Klang Savuth and her husband, Kid Moa, grew barely enough rice to feed their family, and they borrowed hundreds of dollars a year to meet the rest of their needs. Now the couple are innovators and successful entrepreneurs in the community of Kok Komeat, Cambodia.
In March 2014, Klang and Kid joined Heifer International Cambodia’s Improving Income and Nutrition Through Community Empowerment (INCOME) program, and they received 20 chickens, vegetable seeds and training. After passing on 30 chickens to another family, Klang and Kid eventually increased their flock to 200 birds. They invested some of the profits from the chickens in a sow, and now they are raising 23 more pigs. All of the remaining space around their house is filled with greens, onions and other vegetables that they eat and sell. The most recent business venture for the family is a general store, where they sell drinks, snacks, toothpaste, shampoo and other goods.
A lot of the couple’s success can be attributed to their aptitude and voracity for learning. Klang attends all of the Heifer training courses from the project, and she passes the knowledge and materials on to her husband.
Forty-three-year-old Basmati Budamagar recalls her daily journey to the forest, a three to four hour walk, with her baby tied to her back.
“I had to go to the forest to [gather food for] my goats and buffaloes, despite heat or cold or rain,” she says. “The [animals] would graze in the forest, while I would feed my son. We would make the same journey back home before dusk.”
With her husband working in the Middle East as a wage laborer and her in-laws too old to herd the animals, the task was left to Basmati.
“The forest would be swarming with mosquitos and other insects,” she says. “My arms, neck and legs would be covered with bites. I would try protecting my son with a blanket, but he, too, would be bitten. One time, he had a serious infection and had to be taken to the hospital.”
Her flock of goats eventually perished. Some succumbed to disease, and others were killed by tigers in the forest.
When Heifer Nepal approached families living in Fattepur village, in Nepal’s Banke district, with the prospect of implementing the Strengthening Smallholder Farmers in Livestock Value Chain Enterprises project, Basmati was hesitant.
“I neither have time nor the energy to raise goats,” she recalls saying to herself when she heard about the project, which aims to improve livelihoods of smallholder rural families through the development of agriculture and livestock-based value chain enterprises.
Eventually, she felt encouraged by the prospect of receiving capacity building and income generation trainings and agreed to join a group within the project. Basmati’s group, the Pragatisil Women’s Group, was formed three years ago. Since then, its members have received trainings on many topics, including capacity building and income generation.
On a cool morning, I rode my motorcycle down a small road into the countryside to visit Ut Thi Ky, a project participant of Heifer Vietnam’s Improving Livelihoods in the Poorest District of Soc Trang Province project. Her family lives in the Thuan Hoa commune in the Chau Thanh district.
When I arrived, Ut was cutting grass, as usual, to feed her cows.
Before joining the Heifer project, her family of six, including her husband Kim Chuol, 54, her son Kim Chenl, 22, her daughter-in-law Thach Thi Huyen, 20, and her two grandchildren put all of their effort into rice farming, but with unstable market prices, they earned very little income. They worked as hired laborers in order to save enough to buy a heifer, but after a short time, due to their lack of animal husbandry techniques, the heifer became sick and was sold to cover the costs of family necessities.
When the project started in 2012, Ut happily joined a self-help group (SHG). Heifer Vietnam gave her family a heifer, grass for planting, $50 for building a heifer shed and technical skills training, all of which have led to self-reliance. These gifts were her family’s dream. They worked harder and applied what they learned from project trainings to raising their heifer, which gave birth to a calf that they were able to raise and pass on to another family.