A bittersweet goodbye.


My year as the volunteer Global Blogging Ambassador for Heifer International is officially over (that’s the sound of me sobbing).

schedule  A look back at the numbers makes me feel simultaneously exhilarated and a tiny bit exhausted. I traveled to 14 countries (15 if you count my test run to Uganda in October, 2011), and spent at least 280 hours on airplanes and another 390 hours (but who’s counting??) bouncing around in trucks.

It’s been an unbelievable year … and I’ve got more than 10,000 photos to prove it.listening pig

I’ve written 113 posts and my blog was viewed about 84,000 times by people from 164 countries. Thuli Maya Lama

Along the way I was also voted Volunteer of the Year from the South by the Classy Awards (thanks for voting for me, y’all!!). But my biggest joy was meeting people (and Heifer staffers!) in these developing countries and getting to see their homes, their children, and their farms & animals — and how incredibly hard they work every day.family Ecuador

oh mama

llama roundup

What I’ve learned along the way is that our Earth is a staggeringly beautiful place… landscape Ecuador




That people everywhere have a lot more that unites us than separates us….



cambodia girlsThat when we reach out to help others, we gain more than we give…woman & cow

POG…and we invest in our own happiness.Laughing girl

Thanks a million to Heifer (and especially CEO Pierre Ferrari) for trusting me to convey these incredible stories of inspiration and vision.

Thanks to my husband and family for their unwavering support, and to Michelle B. for her stupendous travel counsel.

And thanks to YOU for coming along on the journey!NEPAL GIRL

Feel free to come back and troll through the archives anytime! (If you click on “The Countries” navigation button, you can pull down all posts from whichever country you’d like.)sunset

Happy 2013!!

(And if you miss me, please subscribe to my new/old blog What Gives 365 where I’ll be freshly posting!

Categories: Heifer International, Inspiration, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 89 Comments

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89 thoughts on “A bittersweet goodbye.

  1. Susannah

    Your pictures are incredible! Look forward to seeing what comes next!

  2. Susan

    Betty, again, thanks for everything – and for these images – so beautiful – can’t wait to read more of whatever’s next in store. Take care

  3. Goodbye and thanks very much!

  4. Diane Gunvalson

    I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated how, with each post, you’ve brought me with you right smack in the middle of these countries, the Heifer projects & people you’ve visited; the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, but most of all, the HEART & SOUL of each place.

    • Oh, that is such a GREAT comment, Diane! I really did try to do exactly what you described … so it’s incredibly satisfying to think that I was successful in my own small way!!! THANKS for coming along on the journey!!

  5. Wow, Betty! I feel sad, the way I did when WhatGives365 reached day 365…but then Heiffer12x12 rose to fill the void. Having had an extremely difficult and pre-occupied year, I have the joy of many unread posts still waiting to be consumed and savored ahead of me. (Thanks for keeping them available.) You are an inspiration to so many around the world. I feel so lucky to know you, and look forward to seeing you sometime soon. xoxo Bloggeress Extraordinaire!

    • I am totally coming up to Philly soon, Lori and I will be coming to see you for SURE! Miss you, always appreciate your curious fascination with everything and cannot WAIT to catch up …Happy 2013 for SURE … xoxoox b

  6. Thanks for the amazing journey – you are my favorite blogger and I will miss receiving your beautiful postings. Thanks for bringing the Heifer projects to life for all of us.

    • You are more than welcome and I am unbelievably honored to be your favorite blogger!!!! I promise to do something cool in the future … xoxooxo B

  7. Ramona

    Thank you, Betty, for a wonderful year of blogging and raising awareness for a great cause! I really enjoyed your posts and will miss them.

  8. Cheryl McKinney

    Thank you so much , Betty! We volunteer for Heifer here in Sacramento, CA, and we’ve enjoyed following your posts!

    • Cheryl — I have boundless gratitude for the Heifer volunteers so THANK YOU for all you do –and thanks for following Heifer 12 x 12!!

  9. Amazing pictures! Amazing adventures! My husband and I are hoping to teach abroad this year, so hopefully my blog will be as filled with wonderful memories like yours is! So happy for you!

    • Wow — Julie, keep in touch with me as I’d love to follow your blog — BEST of everything in 2013 — you will LOVE your time in the developing world, I PROMISE!!!!

  10. Meredith

    totally awesome!

  11. sarah

    Bye Betty – and thanks so much for giving us a unique view onto this amazing world, and the great work that Heifer does. I’d never heard of them before, but I’m now a total convert to their mission.

    • You know that means such a great deal to me (and I’m sure to Heifer, too!) … and I can’t tell you what a total passionate convert I am in every way!! Happy 2013!!!

  12. Barb Oakes

    Betty, Thank You Soooooooo Much for this wonderful year of pictures and stories. I am an active volunteer for Heifer, since 2001. I have been on 6 study tours, but only 2 in one year. I can really appreciate the energy you expended in the travel. I have shared your posts with many people that have invited me to speak to them about Heifer. It often helps them decide what they want me to focus on in the time I have with them. I hope these blogs will be available to access Forever. Is there any chance they will go away? If so, is there any way to preserve them to our own computers? They are to wonderful to lose! Barb Oakes, Area Volunteer Coordinator for Heifer, Downstate Illinois

    • Dear Barb — THANK YOU for all you do for Heifer — and the people I’ve written about all this year! As a fellow Heifer traveler you obviously know what these trips are like, and how smitten you become with the people and also Heifer’s important work!! I intend to keep this blog up as long as it gets traffic, and if my old blog is any example, it’s pretty evergreen and dynamic — so keep sending people my way!!!
      Thanks for reading and for being such a passionate supporter — and Happy 2013!!!!

  13. Judy

    Thank you, Betty, for taking us along with you on this remarkable journey. It has meant a lot to me and to many friends who I have pressed to follow you through the year.

    • Judy — thank YOU for introducing me to your friends and for introducing me to RRISA! Can’t wait to spend some time together in 2013

  14. Congratulations, Betty! What an incredible year! I have dreams of traveling the world and writing about it someday – you’re an inspiration!

  15. Reblogged this on Thirdeyemom and commented:
    I don’t often reblog however over the last several months I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Betty’s amazing blog and journey as a Global Blogging Ambassador for Heifer 12 x 12. She has been to 12 countries in over 12 months doing social good. Something I truly admire and dream about doing one day myself. Please check out her beautiful farewell piece and the amazing, inspirational stories on her blog. I’ll miss you Betty and look forward to following your new blog! Cheers! Nicole

    • Really, REALLY appreciate the re-blog Nicole — specially since I love YOUR blog so much! We are fellow travelers on the spirit road … Happy 2013 & best of everything to YOU!

  16. Ann

    Betty’s blogs are the one thing I NEVER skip. I’ve been a faithful reader since What Gives. This year has been amazing. I have been a Heifer contributor for a few years, but not until I read Betty’s blogs did I have a full appreciation for their work. Thank you so much for the wonderful writing, beautiful pictures, and the understanding and inspiration they provided. Ann

  17. Great year, great job. Thanks for inviting us on your journeys.

  18. Martha Radatz

    Nooooooooooooo! Tell me it’s not so!
    Thank you so very much for the amazing job you did bringing Heifer home to us. I learned so much and have been inspired over and over again by the shared humanity, the beauty and the hope your blog has portrayed. I really am going to miss you in my inbox! Best wishes with your next project, whatever that may be.

    • Martha, you are so hilarious! I love your energy, your challenging questions, your passionate support of Heifer’s programs and your great compassion. I will really miss these interchanges with you, my friend, and I hope we’ll have LOTS more to confab about in the future, whatever it brings!!! Happiest 2013!!! b

  19. Thanks for taking us along with you
    Bob Lundsten

    • Bob — You are such a wonderful reader & inspiration to ME … I really have appreciated your thoughtful comments and intentional readership!!! See you on the flip side! xooxox b

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  21. I have only one word for you…..

    • You are so great — and HOW did you know that I love this song — and know EVERY SINGLE WORD??!! Thanks a bazillion for following along on my journey so enthusiastically, EOSR … Happy 2013 !!!

  22. Nancy

    I WILL miss you!!! Thanks so much for taking us all on this incredible journey. It truly warms my heart to know so much good is being done in the world and to have seen it through your eyes. You are an inspiration. I’m honored to call you friend! XO

    • I’ll miss YOU … but luckily, you are right nearby! What will I do without all this travel and all these incredible stories to write?? I am grateful for your enthusiasm & Happy New 2013!!!

  23. Jeff

    Kudos and congratulations Betty! It was an incredible year, and I feel so privileged to have had the honor to be along for the journey via your always articulate blog with your heart warming photos. The world is a better place because of you dear friend. xoxo

    • Thank YOU, Jeff!! I have always felt SO lucky to have you and Andrew as my readers & enthusiastic supporters — best of everything in 2013!!!

  24. What a year Betty – 15 countries! – I’ve said everything already at each of your posts so I’ll just add a wowza 🙄

    I LOVE your photos. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to chose a few for this post from your +ten thousand! I keep going back to look at the photo of the Nepal girl with the baby on her back and the one of the “laughing girl”, and the two men hugging over the gift of a cow, and the woman carrying water with the baby on her back…

    • I’m so happy to hear from you, Rosie!! It was a big challenge to pick the photos for this last post (oh, i hate saying that!) and I am so hugely happy that you have followed my blog all year AND liked my posts so much. We fellow bloggers realize how much it takes to do this (I only spent about 3 hours this morning, poring over the LAST right photos — and changing them out) and I know you do the same thing. I am going to be thinking of what to do next … and I’m sure I’ll be following your blog and your counsel!!! xooxox b

      • The Nepal girl just exemplified so much of life in Nepal – the tremendous hills, the use of girls to take care of younger children, the innocence and mischief of children (they were trying to jump a ride on our truck!) … and the laughing girl in China was the oldest daughter of a very beautiful, brave woman with HIV who was raising pigs and she was SUCH a lovely girl (I’m praying for her mom’s health every day!) … and the two men in Rwanda had just exchanged a passing on the gift and were both Tutsi and Hutu (opposite sides of the genocide) … and the woman carrying the baby was in northern Cameroon where they have to walk 10 Km. a day (they are lucky – the Heifer town borehole makes it possible to make only one trip with a 20 liter keg on your head) … and yeah… what a year. what a journey. what an amazing amount of things to see and marvel at and grieve over and worry about and take in…. thanks for being along!! oxoxoxo b

  25. Linda

    I’ve had the time of my life…..and I owe it all to you……and this wonderful blog Heifer 12×12. Looking forward to see what this new year brings.

  26. Betty – you are just so awesome and it has been such a pleasure *traveling* with you. Thanks for making The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project your “test drive” – xo, Kelly

    • Oh, Kelly — we are SO going to get together again in 2013! I love Nyaka and thanks for being MY test drive … what a glorious introduction!!!

  27. So sad it’s over, Betty. Time sure flies. It seemes like just yesterday we ran into each other in Antigua at the start of your incredible adventure. But in reality, it was more like 11 months ago. Now, I guess, you’re entitled to some well deserved rest after a job well done.
    See ya out there,

    • Thanks so much, Brian!! I loved meeting you both SO much and in such a serendipitous way!! I have loved being on the road but I’m happy to be home, too. Loved your story on Hoboken …and am always intrigued by your NEXT big adventure!! Happy 2013!

  28. Not sure what to say Betty. That’s pretty unusual for me. It has been such a privilege to come along with you as you visited all the amazing places and people where Heifer does its wonderful work.

    If you’re ever in Halifax … you know the rest.

    Until then I’ll be following your new/old blog.

    But first, I think you need to spend some time with your family and friends.

    Well done Betty ! Well done !

    • Thanks, Sybil! I totally DO need to go pay some attention to my awesome friends who I’ve pretty much abandoned this year — but how FUN it’s been to have you along! I’ve loved your comments and getting to know you and believe me, if I’m in Halifax, you’re getting the FIRST call!!! Happy 2013!!!

  29. Thank you for taking us along on this marvelous adventure…

  30. You accomplished so much this year sharing the stories of these beautiful families. I am very proud.

    • Thanks, honey – and you are the person whose words mean the most .. and who has given me the opportunity to make this whole journey. I love you, Petrel Man!

  31. Jo Prostko

    Betty, what an inspiring year you gave us! Thank you for sharing the world with us through your inspired and vivid writing, in whatever form you choose but please find the time amidst your other good work to WRITE A BOOK! Best wishes for a bit of rest before your next adventure!

    • Thanks, Jo!! I will take your advisement about the book deal .. but having written two before, the bloom is kinda off the rose. Although you never know when the muse will strike!! Happy 2013!!!

  32. Hi Betty,

    Your photos are gorgeous, what kind of camera did you use ?
    What an incredible set of experiences you have had !
    How do you go back to “reality” after such an intense year ?

    Congratulations on your amazing blog and I will follow you to receive additional inspiration in my daily life staight into my email box.

    All the best,


    • Hi Arielle! I am so happy you liked my posts & photos! I use a Canon T2i with a Tamron 18-270 lens that I absolutely LOVE. As for my upcoming plans, I have no intention of going back to reality so I guess that means I have to figure out some new way to stay out in never-never land! So happy you’ll be following What Gives!

  33. Pingback: Leibster Award | gardenlilie

  34. I nominated you for a Leibster award on my blog Dec. 5th, check it out. Bon voyage!

  35. Oh, thanks SO much, Kim — will check it out immediately!!

  36. You answered the call and delivered for Heifer International like few could. Thanks for allowing us to tag-along on your journey and I look forward to your 2013.

    • SD — that comment means so much to me, as it was so important to me to feel like I was representing the Heifer work in the best way I knew how.. really appreciate your comments and following throughout the year and I can’t wait to follow YOUR fascinating blog in 2013 — Happy New Year!!

  37. Thanks for the great posts Betty and best of luck with future endeavors!

  38. Didi

    Betty, I loved traveling with you. I saw so much of the country that I would never have seen and loved the beautiful faces of all the people…it gave a world-view that has changed my thinking forever. I also fell in love with a lot of wonderful clothing that showed up in different places. Some of the fabric designs were incredible and I wanted some for table clothes, chair covers and sewing. I will never forget the yellow outfit worn by the woman tending her pool. Why couldn’t “the shirt of their back” be an income source?? Get busy and start getting me some material!! Thank you so much for all the hard work you shared.

    • Wow, Didi!! What a great idea — seriously, the textiles in every country I went to were simply beautiful and SO unique! I agree .. it would be a great idea for importing (if only I had thought of that when I was there) …but, it would be a wonderful business model for the communities. Okay– I’m just drawing a blank on the yellow outfit –oh yes! In Vietnam! That was adorable but just plain old polyester — she was just so beautiful, it looked like silk! Thanks for being such a WONDERFUL travel companion on this journey .. I still can’t believe it’s over, but what a trip, right??!

  39. What an awesome adventure your 2012 year was and thank you for sharing it with us.

  40. This post was a perfect way to end this chapter, Betty. Heifer picked just the right person to “convey these incredible stories.” Whenever I think about doing something to help change the world for the better, I think of you and I feel inspired.

    • I sure didn’t want to end this blog — but I’m glad you thought it was an appropriate send-off! The people I met on this trip, Heifer staffers and beneficiaries alike totally inspired me, so I’m thrilled to be able to be a conduit for that inspiration — and THANK YOU for your inquisitive comments … and for making me laugh pretty much all year long with Mostly Bright Ideas!!

    • I am so happy that these stories from my journey you feel inspired — they sure worked that way for me, too!! Now… what will I do for an encore??? Happy 2013, BB!

  41. Anonymous

    Dear Betty–I have enjoyed every blog and picture, and you have given me so much to think about, especially because I know you personally and that made your stories and humor and perspectives even more special. Most of all I am heartened by the incredible impact Heifer has worldwide–wonderful people doing God’s work, and I don’t write that lightly.

    • I am so honored by your comment and so happy I was able to communicate the beauty and importance of the work that Heifer is doing in the world. It moved me so deeply and I felt so privileged to be able to be in those communities and bear witness to the work being done — so I’m thrilled you felt it, too! Happy 2013!!!

  42. Mollie Papan, HR Manager, Heifer International

    Dear Betty – I will echo the other comments by saying how I am going to miss seeing you in my inbox on a regular basis. Please let me also convey an echo of thanks for all that you did this past year to put a face, voice, photo, story out for the world to know about the transforming work that Heifer International does around the globe. Your recognition with the Classy Award was well-deserved as our volunteer ambassador. You will always be part of the Heifer family. Best wishes with your next adventure. I’m sure it will be a wonderful one.

  43. Anonymous

    Thanks for the great year. It has been a great inspiration. I’m really going to miss your posts!

  44. Love looking at your blog…great photos! I just wish i could do it!

  45. So happy you found me, JA — and feel free to browse around the countries. It’s a big world out there, and full of SO much beauty!!

  46. i like your articles

    have a great continuation

    best regards

    marrakech excursion

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