On September 1, 2013, families from the municipality of Catemaco in Mexico’s state of Veracruz got up in the early morning hours to prepare for one of the most important activities of Heifer International’s projects, Passing on the Gift®.
For all Heifer families in Mexico, Passing on the Gift® symbolizes a chain of solidarity and a network of hope, dignity and sustainability among those who need it the most.
Passing on the Gift® is especially important to Maria Mena Lagunas, who has passed on gifts twice before. She shares that “the communities have a strong commitment to Heifer, who gave us its support and trust. The commitment we’ve made is to ourselves and our families to share with others what we have worked so hard to multiply. They, in turn, should strive to share with other families in need.”
The event included many families who all honored each other and Heifer with testimonials and a sharing of advice and experiences. All the families, including children, passed on chickens and the knowledge they gained through the project trainings. Also present were representatives of the new beneficiary communities—the community who received the chickens, Heifer Mexico staff and staff from the campesino organization ASER-MAIZ from Veracruz. “Campesino” is a Spanish word used in Latin America to describe farmers or farm workers who live in rural areas.
The event started with the opening of the program by the ASER-MAIZ representatives, who gave awards to star beneficiaries of the project. After, families shared with the group about the successes and challenges they faced during the past two years through the project and their process of breeding the birds. Comments overheard included:
“We have sources of protein like home-grown eggs and chicken meat, chemical free.”
“Our children now enjoy healthy foods.”
“We don’t worry about having something to eat because we can make use of our animals.”
The families participating also spoke about their household savings. For example, they compared the cost of daily egg production to what they used to pay for the same product in the local market.
The event ended with the actual Passing on the Gift® ceremony. New communities received 150 birds, cages, food for a few days and instructions on immediate care and instructions on immediate care and management.
New families showed their appreciation with great smiles and hugs, and promised the community of Catemaco and Heifer that they would go back and lead their communities to pass on the Gift and continue the sharing of resources and information for years to come.
Story by Victor Garcia, Program Manager, Heifer Mexico