Heifer International, now in its 71st year since it was founded by Dan West in 1944, continues to work around the mission it was built for: “to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.” While it seems like an enormous undertaking, this organization takes it one project at a time.
The mentality behind this non-profit is to offer sustainable means of supplies, work, and income rather than simply handing out limited, short-term solutions – to develop a sense of resourcefulness instead of just giving resources. Through the use of livestock such as goats, bees, sheep, water buffalo, etc. and agriculture, Heifer pays it forward among networks of communities in order to fight poverty and eradicate it from the source. Livestock can satisfy a number of needs including wool, dairy, fertilizer, etc.
The center of their model is practiced by communities sharing the knowledge they’ve gained with other communities and donating offspring of livestock to the next group of individuals in need to begin building their own solutions. Near and far, millions of individuals in 125 countries have benefited from the practices of Heifer, including Africa, Nepal, Haiti, and even the United States, but there is still a long way to go.
Heifer welcomes any sort of involvement especially as the holidays approach. Monetary donations are accepted as well as specific types of donations—one such donation asks givers to “give the gift of a flock of chicks” for $20 or “give the gift of a goat” for $120. To any of us, these may seem bizarre, but to the families who receive these donations, they mean a difference in their daily lives. Their website offers tools to make noise on social media and create campaigns in schools and churches in order to raise funds and awareness; there’s also an option to collect directed donations for birthdays or in honor of particular individuals.
They welcome partnerships at the individual, institutional, and corporate level. In addition, Heifer organizes fieldtrips to the “Global Village” as a learning experience to simulate the poverty in such areas as Guatemala, Thailand, and other places living in similar conditions. This non-profit organization encourages thinking globally, but also acting locally and preaching “every day activism.”
For those who want to think globally and act globally, Heifer International organizes mission trips for groups interested in taking a more active role in this cause.
Heifer stands by the belief that lending a hand, no matter how small or large the act, makes a tremendous difference for families in need. If you’re interested in their mission and want to get involved, visit www.heifer.org.
By Aura Altamiranda