Why Heifer?

Cattle and llamas and piggies, oh my!

About 20 years ago, my brother Dick sent me the Christmas gift of a pig that he was giving in my name to a charity called Heifer International (I really hoped that wasn’t a comment on moi). Then 10 years ago, my husband’s friend Gary sent us a goat that he was giving in our name for the holidays. We kept getting Heifer gifts and receiving Heifer catalogs in the mail, and I kept thinking “What a great idea!” then promptly forgetting about it (like most everything else in my life, as we had four kids and two full-time jobs at the time).

Then last year, in my What Gives 365 blog, I decided to write about and give to Heifer‘s Value-Based Literacy Program for women in Nepal.  I read up on the whole history and philosophy of the organization, talked to the country manager of the program, and I was blown away.

The visionary Dan West

Heifer International was started by American farmer, Dan West, who became frustrated with relief efforts in Spain in 1944 and decided to start a philanthropic organization that would “give not a cup but a cow.” West’s sustainability model included every family studying animal husbandry, learning environmental stewardship and better farming methods, and agreeing to Pass on the Gift. With this promise to donate the first female animal offspring to another family, West ensured that a single gift would multiply far beyond the original investment. And since 1944 , Heifer has helped more than 71 million people in more than 125 countries move from desperation to dignity and bring an end to poverty and hunger.

The Heifer model is simple and captivating, which is why it’s become a time-honored way to teach philanthropy to children who love the idea of sending gifts of cattle, sheep, rabbits, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, heifers, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, trees and seeds to less fortunate children across the world.

But it is the complex, demanding work that is done with beneficiaries before they even see an animal that has made Heifer so successful in transforming communities, empowering local people to become leaders of positive change, and giving people the tools to improve their own lives.

Having seen the Heifer programs in action in Guatemala and Uganda, I can tell you that it’s impossible to grasp what a profound and potent difference these programs can make in the lives of people living in poverty – until you see it in action. And that’s my plan: to allow you to vicariously experience these programs in action — boots on the ground — through my words and photos.

I hope you’ll come along. It’s going to be one heck of an amazing ride!

16 Comments

16 thoughts on “Why Heifer?

  1. Pingback: One and Done #12 | JM Randolph, accidentalstepmom

  2. Meredith

    Thank you for the quick history and incentive to participate.

  3. Christine

    I’m excited to be a sojourner with you.

  4. A great way to contribute! I never even knew about Heifer.. thanks to you that I now know what it is.

    • I’m so happy to hear from you, Hindupur … one of the real joys of blogging is getting to know people that you’d otherwise never meet! And by the end of this year, you’re going to know a LOT more about Heifer than you ever imagined!! ( :

  5. I have always loved Heifer. It’s 100% my favorite charity. We have a little change tube for it at the store I work in, and I’m always excited to talk about it with our customers. When people bring up charities, I bring up this one. =) I am so happy to have come across this blog.

  6. Okay, you are officially my New Favorite Commenter!! I’m delighted you found me, and if you like Heifer, you’re going to love this blog — and have SO much more to tell your customers!! Thanks a million for your big heart …

  7. I am attempting to put together a 8 weeks sunday school lesson for young children on what the poject does and how and what animals are used. We have been annual supporters of the projectfor several years,but thought the children could use a little more info. Is there any information available for younger children to make this knowledge of your program more age appropriate? Thank-you so very much for your time and attention. Also for the great work Heifer does.

  8. Hi Nancy ! Well, there is that great book, Beatrice the Goat which is appropriate for young kids and does a great job of explaining what Heifer does … but if you don’t mind, I’ll also forward your comment to the folks at Heifer to see if they can help! Kids are a HUGE audience for Heifer… I’m sure they have lots of things to support your wonderful GIVING!!

  9. Betty, it’s Awards Season and I couldn’t not add your blog to my list of nominations for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award. I won’t be upset if you can’t find the time to play, but if you can, pop over to check it out: https://thewanderlustgene.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/confessions-awards-and-the-atlas-game/
    Ciao
    TWLG

    • You are so WONDERFUL to do this, WG … I will try to get to it and I am really honored, just in Romania right now and am not sure what
      my internet connectivity will be! You are the best!

  10. Once I initially made a comment We clicked on your -Notify myself whenever completely new comments are added- checkbox and after this any time a comment is increased I receive 4 email messages while using the indistinguishable review. Perhaps there is any approach you’ll be able to remove me from of which support? Appreciate it!

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