Ian Hands is an employee of Elanco, one of Heifer's corporate partners. He recently participated in a Heifer Study Tour to Peru and was gracious enough to share his reflections with us.
We took a one hour internal flight from Lima to Cusco, South Peru, to join up with Heifer staff there. Cusco is a historic city and is positioned in the mountains at an altitude of 3, 200m, high enough to cause altitude sickness when going from sea level to 3,200 meters (10,499 feet) in one hour!
There are three main areas in this region: Cusco (1.1 million people), Apurimas (404,000 people) and Puno (1.2 million people). Politics seems to focus on welcoming large investors rather than supporting small communities. Mining companies in particular are making investments that cause problems for small rural communities. They take land close to water resources, which causes issues with supply and pollution. Although promises of work, health care, schools, etc. are made, they sometimes dont materialise or workers are employed from Lima instead. Where offers are made to relocate farming families, they are left with the problem of what does a rural farmer do in a city?
Heifer is supporting 14,400 families in South Peru, working in 92 farming communities. Projects are always suited to the environment and ecosystem that the families are living in. For example, it is important to breed from native Peruvian sheep and select the best characteristics, as foreign breeds are too delicate for the environment.
Passing on the Gift is a major component of any project, and this is what will be seen tomorrow.