This week Heifer's Board of Directors is in town for one of several meetings we have through out the year. As I present to Board this afternoon, I will use a few examples of the families and individuals I have met.
I wanted to share one story in particular with you. Dolores Delgado is an incredible woman from Peru. For those that follow Heifer's blog, her name should be familiar to you as we have mentioned her in a story we did last August titled Allin Kausay, and we also shared her story in the blog post, Heifer Supports Healthy Soil. My dear friend Betty Londergan also had the opportunity to meet Dolores in her visit to Peru, and wrote about her experience in her blog, Heifer 12 x 12, Guinea Pigs...not just for Breakfast Anymore.
I met Dolores last summer when I had the opportunity to travel to Peru and Ecuador to visit some of our projects. I'm always so impressed with the energy and drive of our participants, but Dolores in particular, really amazed me. For her it wasn't "enough" to just improve the life of her family - it was important to also serve her community.
I love that attitude, I love that desire to DO MORE.
Just to provide you some background, Dolores has a small farm and is the "go-to" person for guinea pigs in her community. She has been a part of the "Allin Kausay" project. This particular project has been making great strides in promoting community development.
At the time of my visit, Dolores had a small shed that allowed her to produce, at maximum, 500 guinea pigs. As my visit came to a close, Dolores and I were talking about her plans for her farm, for the project and for her life. Dolores promised me that in one year she would build a structure that would hold more than double the amount of guinea pigs. I told her that if she met her promise, I would be back to Peru to see.
In October of 2011, Dolores and her husband began the work of constructing a new home for the guinea pigs. Dolores wanted to make sure that the guinea pigs would be housed where they had "enough space to not suffer or become ill." The new structure was completed in January 2012 - Dolores doesn't take her goals lightly! Her new structure has the potential to hold up to 2,500 guinea pigs in a warm, clean and wider environment.
In addition to making improvements on her farm for the guinea pigs, Dolores is embodying the spirit of Passing on the Gift by sharing her knowledge with her friends, neighbors and visitors. She uses her structure to host trainings, demonstrating hands on techniques that she has learned, including animal health care.
But don't think that Dolores doesn't have her hands on other projects. In addition to raising and selling the guinea pigs, working and training the community, she also tends to her organic farm. Oh but wait, there's more!
Dolores' family home has become a model of healthy living in their community. Many of her neighbors have repainted their homes and have recovered the tradition of decorating their walls with clays of different colors, thus drawing the attention of visitors.
The families that have initiated the changes to their homes (including Dolores) share a vision of one day having their community be a potential site for ecotourism visits. They want others to see, first hand, what its like to be a part of a community that is able to balance people, livestock, crop and agroecological production.
I am proud to have met Dolores and she has truly had an impact on my life. Dolores is the type of person who we should all strive to be - it is not just about us; we are part of a larger system. We are all connected.
For Dolores, participating in this project is a "dream come true" for her and her family. Dolores demonstrates that we can all be change-agents. We just have to be committed to our cause.
I have not forgotten my end of the bargain - I will make it back to Peru one day to see all that Dolores has accomplished. Until then, I will challenge myself (and you) to DO MORE!