Photos and video by Geoff Oliver Bugbee
The unity in Heifer communities shows itself in many ways. Camaraderie and joyful greetings of welcome are a part of each meeting. Members blend their voices in song and touch hands in dance and friendship. They exchange advice, ideas and the bounty of their hard work when they come together for meetings, their bicycles laden with corn, pumpkins, sugar cane, bags of ground nuts and jugs of fresh milk.
They also reach out in compassion to those in need, whether they are part of the group or not. This all grows from the values-based training that transforms individuals into communities, recipients into donors.
Ten women formed the Twashuka Women's Group in the Luanshya District of Zambia in 1995 to address severe poverty in their community. In 2005, after failed attempts to raise livestock on their own, they applied to Heifer International for help and received five dairy cows and three bulls. Today the original group and its two pass-on groups together own 206 dairy cows.
Group members adopted six orphans in the community when the children were just one day old. As a community the women agreed to donate a liter of milk every day to the children on a rotation schedule to improve their nutrition and help provide for their care.
Pelina Lubumbe, who cares for Anna, age 5, said the girl would not have survived without the group's generosity. "This is a child of Heifer International," Lubumbe said in thanks.
Pelina Lubumbe, with adopted daughter Anna, thanks
the Twashuka group at a community meeting last week.