|Project participants hold representative oysters at today's Passing on the Gift ceremony in Phuket, Thailand
Late last night - while most of us in this hemisphere were sleeping - a delegation from Heifer's US headquarters attended a Passing on the Gift
ceremony in Baan Klang village in Phuket, Thailand. It was already Wednesday there, and the event was well attended with five groups of 25 villagers sharing the offspring of their plants and animals - in this case mangrove trees and oysters - with another five groups of 25.
The Passing on the Gift ceremony is the embodiment of the ever-expanding network of hope, dignity and self-reliance that's created when our project participants are given the tools to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. This project is focused on rehabilitating areas hit by the 2004 tsunami that devastated thousands of families in Thailands southern provinces and in neighboring Asian countries. Heifer Thailand made grants to local government offices and NGO partners to provide families with livestock, mangrove trees, fishing equipment and training to help them rebuild their incomes and move closer to self-sufficiency.
Noel Mace, our Asia and South Pacific program officer, was there to witness the ceremony. He says it was remarkable to see not only recipients being transformed into donors, but disparate groups coming together as they passed on their "love and values."
"It really stood out that these inclusive groups of Buddhists, Muslims and Christians showed that community development and environmental protection takes everyone working together."