Friday, December 19, 2014

Are you looking for a memorable gift for that special someone?

I asked my wife Judy what she wanted for Christmas this year.  She answered without hesitation that she wanted a pig… I said, “Great – I want a goat!”  We are talking about supporting Heifer Project International work … we buy the animals and the animals are delivered to poor rural families, in an impoverished part of the world, The families first receive intensive training and help preparing facilities to care for their new animal, Heifer assists in assuring proper nutrition is available.  Complete follow up and veterinarian services are provided for the recipients.

Tanzanian  woman and her dairy cow!
Both pigs and goats are “miracle animals. Pig farmers average 23 piglets per year per breeding sow. A piglet can be sold in East Africa for the equivalent of $50, in a country where the average income is $200/ a year. One piggy can be sold for more than enough to send a child to school for a year, or money to raise the diet of an entire family… The first litter of 8-10 can be delivered within 6 months, and there are generally 2 litters per year.  One pig can, within a few years, lead a family out of poverty to a much higher standard of living.  

These are actually Czech pigs - but they are the best pig photo I can find!
More children around the world rely on goats' milk than on cows' milk. Perhaps that's because goats can thrive in harsh climates where other livestock can't--surviving on grasses and leaves that other animals won't eat.
Heifer goat - note careful construction of barn
 Heifer goats can give a family up to a gallon of milk every day. Many families use what's left over to make yogurt, cheese or sell at the market for income to pay for clothes, school and medicine. Plus there are two to three kids each year!  The family is trained to raise forage for the goat goats  rather than turn them loose in the countryside where they can damage fragile environments.

Goats have wonderful eyes and they are so friendly - (except some Billys!)
The policy of Heifer project is to fully explore which varieties of animals are best suited for a location, before giving the gift...

Heifer also has developed a process called “Passing on the Gift”.   Those who received Heifer gifts become donors and give a young female animal to others in the community…and the process happens over and over…In some projects the passing on of the gift has continued for more than 20 cycles… all from the original gift of one animal.  
After projects are established, families receive on going support from Heifer—such as vet.  services, training, seed, and more.  This whole process has been quietly going on in many countries of the world, including the US, since 1944. 

Chickens - eggs - some to use, some to sell, and some to keep for starting the next generation!
What could I possibly receive for Christmas that would match the experience of bringing an improved life to an entire family? A Heifer gift provided not for one good meal but starts an ongoing process of community development. Over the years, Heifer has continued to grow and develop new services as new needs become apparent.  

Banana coop in the highlands of Ecuador 
Currently Heifer has begun finding new ways to assist community groups – such as organic farmers, salt-water fishermen, and fresh water fish farms by providing training, organizational support, and micro loans at low interest.  An individual alone cannot compete with corporate farms or powerful fishing groups… but a coop of 150 trained and organized individuals can.

Woman coop in Tanzania - the woman turn the milk of their cows into butter and cheese
Judy and I have a special love for the work of  Heifer.  We have been presenters available to talk about the work of Heifer to civic groups; churches, ‘community events’… and twice we have gone on study trips to see Heifer in action – first in Tanzania, and a few years later in Ecuador… It’s inspiring!

Coop in Ecuador transforms raw chocolate from their trees into confection chocolate bars sold in the market
Here are a couple of Heifer stories:
1. In Tanzania we met a woman who had to spent over two hours a day to walk to a distant spring to fill to large ‘Jerry’ cans with water, which she then balanced on her head to provide her family with water. Heifer gifted her with a donkey … She was as happy as if she had been given a pick up truck!
The happy recipient of her very own donkey

Small organic farm coop in Ecuador - receive help in crops and marketing of produce
2.  Small hillside farms in Ecuador can be used for raising year round crops.  With training the farmers can learn to grown their crops organically without pesticides or fertilizers.  Crop yields improve and the organic crops sell for a higher profit.  Training, purchase of seeds and tools, and the newly formed coop can support marketing.  Training and support are paid for through a Heifer International project

PACAT market in Ecuador where organic farmers sell direct to customers -
 ( their produce sells better than the non organic vegetables!)

Do you get frustrated with “large” world problems that seem insurmountable – you can be the agent bringing conform and peace to some of the poor communities of the world. If you long for a Christmas without the hyper commercialization that modern marketing practices have foisted onto us – If you want to be free of the guilt trip that commercial interests have convinced us is necessary – buy a goat, a pig, a flock of ducks…! It will make you feel good and change lives.

Dairy cow in Tanzania - notice stall and rain proof barn to left...

To learn more visit Heifer Projects gift catalog: Please take some time to explore the links – the photos alone make it worth your time.

A Facebook link that I saw recently…

10 Things Christians Shouldn’t Do At Christmas
Trout farms in Educator make use of natural year round spring... planned and financed with Heifer help
Trout are harvested and sold directly in the city market

A Tanzanian widow who must provide for her parents, and extended family