From May 5-7, 2014, four visitors from Elanco and their clients were escorted by Kenny Clark, global corporate alliances manager, on a visit to three swine-rearing project sites of the Heifer China Earthquake Rehabilitation Program in Guangyuan, Sichuan Province.
They arrived at Fuxin Village and were deeply impressed by the Fuxin Women's self-help group (SHG) members' confidence and progress in social capital. This pig-rearing project was officially launched at the end of 2011. In December 2012, full completion of Passing on the Gift® was made earlier than expected. The women organized singing and dancing activities to enrich their lives and build closer relationships among members.
During the presentation to the Elanco visitors, Chang Guifang, a Fuxin Women's SHG leader, shared the many changes that took place since the project began. In the past, although they were neighbors, they only greeted each other when they saw each other on the road. After a series of SHG meetings and Heifer training, they started eating dinner together regularly, with a different SHG member hosting each time.
She shared that by learning new and improved methods of pig farming, their friendships were strengthened. The next plan is to develop the SHG into a cooperative, which can continuously scale up pig-rearing activities, reducing cost and risk.
The first day of the Elanco visit ended up with the SHG’s "12 Cornerstones Song," in which Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development became the lyrics. They said it's the most efficient way to remember them. One of the visitors, Daryl Olsen, CEO of AMVC, said, "One of the keys to project success is to find a local leader with strong leadership and communication skills, no matter if it’s an SHG leader or community facilitator. Chang Guifang is one of them."
For the rest of the trip, the Elanco guests visited Dashan Village. They visited nine Heifer project families. Dr. Thomas Marsteller, swine technical consultant from Elanco, answered project participants' technical questions. He was excited to see some breeders raising more than 40 fattening pigs and sows and sharing the technology with other participants. The visitors also made suggestions for finding solutions for the area's stagnant pig market, such as lowering feed costs and learning market information through the Internet.
All the visitors were impressed by Heifer’s positive impact on the local communities. Nancy Olsen, one of the guests with Elanco, said, "Everyone should have hope. Everyone can work for a better future. And we do believe Heifer provides the seeds of hope for project participants."
Story by Zhang Han, Communication & Networking Officer, Heifer China
Photos by Song Zhenming, Earthquake Rehabilitation Program Officer, Heifer China