Posts Tagged With: Goats

Haiti Re-Mix.

family (As a graduate of UMass and with two sisters still living there, my heart goes out to Boston and to ALL those whose family members were hurt.) Okay, I know it’s April– which means I’m a tiny bit behind in my Remix intention to go back and feature some of my favorite (never-seen-before!) photos from each of the countries I visited for Heifer International last year.old & new

But whenever I start going through my photos, I get completely lost in the glorious faces whose stories I remember so well.woman in red

I remember being scared to go to Haiti — afraid the poverty and desperation in the aftermath of the 2010 hurricane would still be overwhelming.PAP

Well, there were still tents up and houses in ruins (although most are gone now). But instead of buying the heartless line you hear so often: “Oh, Haiti is always recovering from one disaster or another,”  I found myself head-over-heels in love with the people of Haiti.Ivoire child

The way they walk with such pride and grace. carrying

The way they will do anything to get their children an education. schoolboys!

The way the children walk out of murky, dirt-caked slums looking as clean and tidy as little angels…sweet girl

… and people work & work & work, with a determination and optimism that is remarkable to behold. Commute

To say the people of Haiti embody resilience, dignity, strength and perseverance is an understatement.dapper

Even the land, which is admittedly largely deforested, is still beautiful.

On the road to Saint RaphaelI can’t wait to go back and see what Heifer has been doing there! Pierre Ferrari, Heifer’s CEO, just visited some projects with President Bill Clinton and he reports the big goat-breeding operations are really going strong (and god knows, Bill loves to talk about breeding). good goat

I miss Haiti. boyBut if you missed the whole shebang last February, you can still read all my blogs on Haiti by clicking on the links below.old man

I’ll leave you with a Haitian saying which, oddly, was one of my Mom’s favorites, too.firebrigade

Men anpil chay pa lou. (Many hands make the load lighter.) two boys

Let’s hope so!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The Paradox of Haiti”  http://heifer12x12.com/2012/02/23

“Staring at Goats”  http://heifer12x12.com/2012/02/27

“This is SO not a road” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/02/29

“What I Ate in Haiti” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/03

“Cows, Fudge & Women in Haiti” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/05

“The Price of a Chair” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/08

“A Mother in Haiti”  http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/09

“A Fish Full of Dollars” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/14

“A Rough Draft of My Last Day in Haiti” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/18

“My admittedly tardy International Women’s Day Post” http://heifer12x12.com/2012/03/18

Categories: Haiti, Heifer International, Inspiration, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Guatemala Re-Mix.

Beautiful Lake Atitlan

Beautiful, mesmerizing Lake Atitlan

  I’ve been feeling really bad about leaving my Heifer blog behind and abandoning all my new followers –love you guys!! — who haven’t been getting any new posts from me.

I met these organic foodies in Quilinco, a lovely town north of Huehuetenago. What cuties!

I met these organic foodies in Quilinco, a little mountain town north of Huehuetenango.

So I’ve decided to go back and do a little remix of photos & stories from each of the countries I visited last year…. starting with lovely Guatemala.church

It's hard work picking cabbages, and takes a family to do it.

It’s hard work picking cabbages and takes the whole family to do it.

Juan, a cauliflower farmer and father of four, also raises pigs, chicken, sheep and cows.

Juan, a cauliflower farmer and father of four, worries that he won’t get more than 10 cents/pound for his crop.

Even driving by, you're greeted like somebody special. (I always wave back!)

Even driving by, Guatemalans greet you like you’re somebody special.

Planting corn in tandem, with pole-diggers and bags of corn seed.

Planting corn in tandem, with post hole-diggers and bags of seed. (Nobody’s retired here.)

Mountains, clouds & sky

Mountains, clouds & sky – fundamentals of a Guatemala road trip.

Sweet farm boy taking a break from planting & weeding.

Sweet farm boy taking a break from planting & weeding.

Everywhere I went, I saw people close to the animals that fed them -- remarkable how distant we've become from these animals that sustain us!

When was the last time you had this kind of relationship with a goat?

Juanito was shy and only peeked out this window when he thought I wasn't looking.

Juanito was shy and only peeked out this window when he thought I wasn’t looking.

All dressed up & ready for the Feast of Maria Candelaria in Cunen Valley!

All dressed up & ready for the Feast of Maria Candelaria. (Post-celebration aspirin close by.)

These piglets saw me from across the courtyard and stalked right towards me like a little rock band... such attitude!!

These piglets saw me from across the courtyard and stalked right towards me like a little rock band… such attitude!!

And of course, Guatemalan children are just off-the-charts adorable!

And always, the Guatemalan children will melt your heart.

Here are the links to my other posts from Guatemala from 2012. (Why did I write so many?? Boy, that overachieving thing sure faded quickly….)

Enjoy!

Welcome to Guatemala!

Hola Amigos

Head in the Clouds — Freshly Pressed!!

Vamos, Chicas!

Solid Gold Soul

Animal Magnetism in Happy Valley

Re-gifting, Heifer Style

Seeding the Future

Short Stories

And I’m leaving for Guatemala again tomorrow (on a non-Heifer trip) … stay tuned for more!

Categories: Guatemala, Heifer International, Philanthropy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Viva Vega Alta!

big ceiba

The mighty ceiba tree is not supposed to be blooming.. but the climate is changing.

On Day 3 of my trip to Ecuador, we drove up from the watery coastal towns of El Oro province to spend the night in Loja Province, in the crackly dry forest town of Vega Alta on the very border of Peru. The environmental contrast was stark, particularly as this was the very end of the dry season and every blade of grass seemed dry as kindling.

sink

Water, water — almost nowhere, barely enough to drink.

 Our host family, headed by Rosanna Apollo, is part of 26 families (most of them related) that live in this sparsely populated town where land is plentiful and cheap, and goats outnumber people by about 30 to 1. young goat Rosanna and her granddaughter Cecilia cooked us a beautiful lunch…

Simple .. and sensational.

  …then we walked to her brother Santos’s house and up, up, up through the dry forest to see the town water supply and irrigation well that Heifer has helped to provide.

The Santos boys walking through the dry forest.

The Santos boys walking through the dry forest.

The challenge in Vega Alta is water, pure and simple. These woods used to boast millions of hardwood trees, before agricultural clear-cutting and burning stripped the mountainsides up to the very summits.

(You can see the burning hillside on the left.)

(You can see the burning hillside on the right.)

Heifer’s agro-ecological project in Loja will include training 600 families to cope with ever-diminishing water supplies by undertaking irrigation projects, planting trees, diversifying crops, and managing soil moisture with crop rotation, organic fertilizer and mulching.

cleraing the pipe

Santos’s son Alexis clears the irrigation pipe.

Caritas Allemagne, a Catholic charity, built the big irrigation system that provides metered water for 60 Vega Alta families from a source 13 km away, but it’s the small irrigation pump that Heifer invested in and 60-year old Santos put in himself that has created a small garden of Eden here.irrigation star

Santos showed us papaya, lime, lemons, sour oranges, cacao, coffee, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, beans, bananas, guavas, peppers, passionfruit, achiote, and yucca that were all thriving under the soft rain of sprinklers from his Heifer irrigation pump.

Achiote, also called the "lipstick tree" produces seeds that are used in food coloring.

Achiote, also called the “lipstick tree,” produces seeds that are used in food coloring and flavoring.

With irrigation and the manure from his goats, Santos has increased his farm’s production by 300%  –and that’s no small potatoes.

fresh papaya

Heifer’s Leonardo Mendieta samples the luscious papaya.

As the dry forests across Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador grow ever drier and water grows ever more precious, Heifer irrigation & agro-ecology and Heifer livestock may well make the difference between children here eating .. or not. Alexis, Darling & goats

That night, after we ate a beautiful meal of vegetables and fruit, (but went without a shower because there was no way we were going to use more water), I had my computer open to show everybody their photos, and Rosanna and her family began looking over my shoulder at the photos of farmers around the world. Rosanna & parrot

They were so intrigued to see the crops people were growing in Haiti, in Cameroon and in Vietnam (it seems everybody, everywhere grows cassava)…cassava!

… and they could see that they were hardly the only poor people working hard in the world. They asked a hundred questions about the people they saw in my photos…

They all liked her face .. and her hat... and her giant Black Tiger Shrimp!

They all loved Trinh from Vietnam — her smile, her hat… and her giant Black Tiger Shrimp!

…and once again I cursed myself for being such a language laggard, and thanked heaven (and Heifer) for Michelle, my awesome translator. As we fell asleep that night on their beds they’d generously offered us, we prayed we wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the black night to use the dry latrine out back (another Heifer innovation!) and that their pet parrot would clam up until dawn. aw geeOur prayers were answered! And in the morning– after a beautiful breakfast that was 10 times what we could eat –

corn cakes…the hardest thing was saying goodbye.bye bye

But I know these folks in Vega Alta are in good hands with Heifer folks like Leonardo Mendieta to look out for them.

Arcela (Rosanna & Santos's sister), Leonardo and her baby goats.

Arcela (Rosanna & Santos’s sister), Leonardo, and her baby goats.

And I’ll just pray the rains will come.

Miguel Santos - my hearthrob!

Miguel Santos – my hearthrob!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL … AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Categories: Agriculture, Ecuador, Environment, Farming, Heifer International, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Goats … an anti-viral agent.

If you’re a woman in Rwanda, you’re almost twice as likely to be infected with HIV as a man. That seems hideously unfair, particularly after rape was used as a weapon during the genocide of 1994, resulting in a huge swell in the numbers of infected women. Still, even today it is a reality.

Cluadine Uwamaiya, mother of six and HIV+ in Kibungo.

So Heifer International has teamed up with my second most favorite organization, Partners in Health, to improve the health, nutrition and income of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Eastern Province, who make up 2.5% of the population there.

Partners in Health, which grew out of Dr. Paul Farmer’s pioneering community health work in Haiti in the 1980s, is the first responder. Since 2005, PIH has been providing crucial medicine and health care to HIV patients, as well as food packages for 10 months, in order to strengthen and stabilize these weak, poor and malnourished folks and get them on the road to recovery. But after that immediate intervention, patients still needed a way to provide themselves and their families with sustainable income and food security. And that’s where goats (and Heifer) come in.

Goats are quick to reproduce (they can be bred in the first year), their milk is highly nutritious (reportedly it really helps bolster one’s white blood cells that fight off infection) and with easily available forage (old banana peels, kitchen waste and some grasses) goats will produce a lot of poop to fertilize vegetable gardens that the people are encouraged and trained to plant. So Heifer has given away hundreds of South African dairy goats to people like Charlotte, who has used that gift to transform her life.

Charlotte found out she was HIV+ in 2003, after she had four heartbreaking miscarriages in a row and went in for a test. But her husband, from whom she got the infection, argued that she was not infected and so she got thinner and sicker until 2005, when she visited PIH (or Inshuti Mu Buzima as it’s known in Kinyarwanda) and was put on life-saving medications. In 2009,  Charlotte received a goat from Heifer, passed on its first female offspring to another family, and now has two more female offspring that provide her with so much milk, she has plenty to sell.

Nobody in Rwanda would ever drink goat milk before .. but they love it now!

With her goat milk income, Charlotte bought a pig that is now pregnant, and she can sell those piglets for about $120/each (if healthy and fat, a pig can have two litters a year of about 8-12 piglets each). Charlotte also bought a heifer and is eager to raise more goats, sell more milk, plant more vegetables and bananas, and buy more land. In a big kitchen garden that surrounds her house, she also grows carrots, beets, and maize that she sells, but she’s really famous for her excellent bananas (thanks to copious amounts of manure).  

Her 13-year old son is tall and handsome, and she’ll have the money to send him to the best secondary school –although in Rwanda it’s considered quite a tragedy to have just one child (a fact my only-child Lulu found ironic). When she talked about her four missing children, Charlotte looked bereft, but she quickly said, “I don’t think about being sick, I think about the future. It’s only when I talk about being sick that I get sad.”

Leaving Kibungo…

As we pulled away from her house, I was thinking of how Charlotte had stood up in front of the whole town meeting and told her story, and the courage that must have taken. Then I thought of the song the people were singing at the meeting (it only rhymes in Kinyarwanda, folks): “People say if you have HIV/AIDS you are going to die, but we are not prepared to die… We are going to live!”

Categories: Africa, Animals, Heifer International, Photography, Rwanda, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Goat-ed into greatness.

 My first visit to a Heifer Nepal project took me way up into the hills surrounding Kathmandu – where immediately the air got sweeter and the views became more and more spectacular, with the Himalayas shimmering like a mirage in the distance.

My Heifer guide, the lovely Puja, told me that when Tibet invaded Nepal, the cavalry stayed on the hilltops as lookouts and they eventually settled there, which helps explains the Tibetan look of the Tamang people here (and my immediate attraction).

Our destination was Ramkot Village where a Heifer project had been started in 2008 through a local partner group: Women’s Feeling Unity Forum, with the adorable acronym WFUF. In Nepal, Heifer always partners with a local NGO (non-government organization) that has organized the community through a Women’s Self Help Group, proven the participants are committed and motivated, and then applied to Heifer for animals and training. Once approved, WFUF’s staff was trained and paid by Heifer to be the hands-on managers of the project in Ramkot and three other villages — and their hard work with Heifer has paid off. Even though this Ramkot Heifer project is complete (projects are active for 3 years, then go into a reporting stage for another 2), the group continues on, thanks to the efforts of some very compelling women.

Vice President Tirtha Tamang (everyone’s last name is his or her caste group) is 38, married to a farmer, with 2 sons and 1 daughter. Like two-thirds of women in Nepal, Tirtha is illiterate – but in the Heifer program, she learned to read slowly, write her name, and do basic arithmetic. From the original Heifer gift of 2 does, Tirtha has raised, bred, fed and sold dozens of goats to pay for her children’s education; now two are in college and one is entering high school.

Think of that! Instead of passing along illiteracy, she has totally rewritten the future for her children, turning goats into college degrees. And that’s not half of what Heifer has helped this community accomplish for itself!

Madame President Mithu Tamang

Under the leadership of President Mithu Tamang, Ramkot women started a group savings account in 2008 (each member contributing 100 rupees – about $1.20/month), enabling the members to borrow money for seeds, medicine, school fees, or family emergencies–like food– at minimal interest. When you’re living on $2/day income, easy access to money means a lot… and the repayment rate is 100%. The women have built a new, cement community center to host their meetings and other village events, as well as two beautiful new bamboo greenhouses for starting seeds. In fact, with the manure from their animals and Heifer trainings in raising organic produce, the women grow enough vegetables to feed their families and sell in the market. It’s a 3-hour walk to the market (each way) and they carry their produce on their backs, leaving at 2 a.m. twice a week during harvest months — but on a good day they can make 500 rupees ($7) in sales.

Tirtha & Mithu with the women’s group water harvesting cistern, new greenhouses below, and hills of pumpkins.

OR… if they sell a young male goat about 4 months old, the women can earn 12-15,000 rupees (over $100). A female goat can start having babies at 6 months, have 3 kids every pregnancy, and up to 2 pregnancies a year.

So –don’t you love Heifer math that adds up the multiplying effect of the single gift of a goat?? (And of course, all the women have passed on the gift of offspring and trainings to other village families in need.)

Heifer has been working in Nepal with women’s groups since 1993, and in less than 20 years has helped more than 60,000 families like those in Ramkot with the gift of livestock and training. That’s a great story. But as we were bouncing back down the road to Kathmandu, Puja started telling me about how Nepalese women’s groups are joining forces, forming larger cooperatives and instituting change on a whole new scale – like the $60,000 water project all the villages around Ramkot are working to build, that will allow them to double their production.

Why Women’s Self Help Groups (and co-ops) are a great idea.

That concept (and the beautiful smiles of the Tamang people) took my breath away. More on co-ops tomorrow!

Never underestimate the power of a Nepalese woman!

Categories: Agriculture, Animals, Heifer International, Nepal, Photography, Travel, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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