Posts Tagged ‘Heifer International’

Updated View: Heifer International

PR_Logo-Full_ColorIt’s been a while since I dropped in on Heifer International. They cycle onto my radar around the winter holidays because it is such a sublime fit for gift giving (give a goat, or a share of bee hives, or a portion of an ox, etc to communities of need around the world)…but of course, their calendar is jam packed with outreach, education, and great volunteer opportunities year ’round. Getting involved is an outstanding way to help eradicate hunger and poverty, and help children and families become self-reliant.

The beauty of the Heifer model is that it provides tangible, life-changing gifts to families…livestock (a Heifer or one of many other options–also shares in an animal in case you can’t plunk down the donation to fund one in its entirety), trees, bees, education, small business funds, clean water access, and so many more categories…and part of the structure includes passing on the gift to others. The recipients of your offering donate offspring of the donated animal to another family, as well as the education on care. It is built in to keep the giving going. I truly love that! This practice of passing on the gift means your impact is multiplied by as much as nine times! Thus far, Heifer has reached 20.7 million families. More than 105 million children, women, and men are on the road to more sustainable living due to the giving and support of folks like you.

It just so happens that TODAY, August 22, is a big event for them: the third annual “Beyond Hunger: A Place at The Table” gala, to support and empower marginalized women, in Beverly Hills. Dang, I clearly need to check their calendar more often…Next Year!

What’s the Buzz? Volunteer with Bees

The reports get more and more threatening every day, portending a genuine doomsday situation when it comes to our world’s honey bees. It seems over a million healthy colonies of bees are dying out each year, and this alarming disappearance has been going on for over a decade. Of course, without bees, we lose our primary pollinators, so plant health degrades and eventually, if it continues, could not be sustained. Life without agriculture just ain’t gonna work. The US Department of Agriculture has called this dire situation “The biggest general threat to our food supply.” There have been some recent clues to the mystery, and a specific class of pesticides seems to be causing, or heavily contributing, to “CCD” (Colony Collapse Disorder). In the United States, these particular pesticides are used in home gardening products as well as on over 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy, and cotton seeds. Germany and France have already ceased use of these pesticides, and we can too. It is a huge concern for all of us, as food scarcity still plagues our world, but for most of us here, in relative comfort, starvation seems remote…crops dying en masse is definitely not the direction we need to be moving. While you research to find out more about pesticide use and advocating for more responsible food growth, consider doing some Bee Volunteering…here are a few project options where you can be of service to the bee community here and abroad (and if you volunteer on-site, you probably get to wear one of those cool beekeeper hoods too!)

Bees 4 Communities/Backyard Bees is an online information clearinghouse for “community hive collaboration” and strengthens communities of bee-lovers and beekeepers, making urban beekeeping viable around the world.

Bees for Development assists beekeepers living in poor and remote areas of the world, lifting them from poverty through beekeeping. They help connect volunteers and international beekeeping projects that are looking for help. They also do and safaris to projects they helm (upcoming safaris are to Trinidad & Tobago and Turkey).

The Great Sunflower Project uses backyard bee volunteers all across North America to be part of the world’s largest citizen scientist project for pollinator conservation. To be part of the project, just plant bee-friendly plants (as per their suggested lists) and observe/count the winged visitors for 15 minutes each day.

Heifer International has beehives and honeybees as part of their giving catalog that truly changes the world. Bees gifted to a family can double agricultural output in community fields (it’s only thirty bucks, and includes training for a family to learn to care for the bees and sustain the positive effects of your gift).

Bees Abroad is based in England, and using indigenous bees in regions around the world, they train and educate communities to keep and support bee populations, build hives, protect, collect and store honey, etc. They have bee projects going (and needing your help and support) in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nepal, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Find out about volunteer opportunities here.

Seeds of Change: Heifer International Closer to Home

I’ve been a big fan of the Heifer Project for some time (using their catalog for holiday shopping is a must for me), even before they changed their name to Heifer International. Now, recognizing the difficulty so many Americans have faced in getting through these past few years, Heifer is turning attention homeward to impoverished American communities like Appalachia and the Arkansas Delta. The new Seeds of Change program helps revitalize family farms and create new food-based businesses. So many regions in this country have fertile land but fallow economies, and today’s economies and year-round agricultural importing are making small-scale farming a losing proposition. If you truly NEED strawberries and grapes in February, then you bring them in from South America and pay the price, not just in dollars, but also in fuel and carbon footprint. Nature didn’t really intend for you to have those berries…and waiting for local produce makes seasons a celebration. Eating and shopping locally is a huge boon to your community and our planet. It is ironic that residents of these potentially abundant agri-zones are malnourished. Seeds of Change will help boost nutrition and local economies. This investment in the future is connecting providers with suppliers in innovative new ways, and training a new generation to fulfill local need. In addition to revitalizing small-scale farming, Seeds of Change is building community school gardens to nourish the appetite for learning as well as for nutritious food. Find out more and celebrate your neighbors. In addition to supporting Seeds of Change, consider volunteering with Heifer via some of these opportunities. I am a firm believer that we are all global neighbors, and the problems of any are the problems of all…and I also understand that having an impact close to home has a special kind of reward.

Heifer International Study Tours

Tanzania Cow: Photo courtesy Heifer International / Jake Lyell

I’ve always loved Heifer International, since ages ago when I got a brochure with Susan Sarandon talking about how easy it is to buy a farm animal, or even a super-affordable share in a farm animal, and donate it to people in poverty regions around the world. I loved how tangible the concept was of purchasing a goat (or share of a water buffalo, or flock of chicks, or hive of bees, or cow, or…) for a family in South America (or Africa or Europe or North America or Asia…) who would then have milk for themselves to alleviate hunger, as well as have enough to sell at market to better their lives. I loved even more the concept that the first-born from that goat would then be passed on to another family in the community, and I was hooked. Donations in the name of a loved one to Heifer became my holiday gift of choice.

So here’s the part I didn’t know, as the organization has grown mightily over the years. Heifer has study tours to project sites in amazing places in the world. We can travel with the organization crew and guides to Bolivia and Uganda and Cambodia and Kosovo and many other destinations where hard, life-changing work is going on every day. From their own description about the tours: All of Heifer’s Study Tours let participants observe Heifer’s model of sustainable development in action. While projects vary widely, visitors might see a bio-gas unit generating power from manure in China, meet the alpacas that help farmers subsist in the fragile high altitudes of Ecuador or see families harvest honey from their bee colonies in Poland. Some tours focus on specific issues like gender equity, agroecology, HIV/AIDS, animal well-being, microenterprise and education.

All Heifer Study Tours take you beyond your ideas about poverty and show you what the human spirit is capable of overcoming. When you meet the communities helped by Heifer, you will be touched by their stories, motivated by their achievements and inspired to overcome the challenges in your own life and community.

What a terrific chance to dip into the stream of changing the world, and come home changed, and ready to take on even more.

Pass On the Good With Heifer

Tanzania Donkeys-Heifer International/Darcy Kiefel

Are you familiar with Heifer International? They are the phenomenal organization with which you “buy” an animal or flock/herd of animals that is given to a family or community in need. You can give anything from a water buffalo to a baby chick. Different animals are available in different regions where they can thrive and the recipient family can thrive. Raising bees or cattle doesn’t automatically work everywhere, so Heifer makes sure the families are set up for success…and from nowhere, because of you, they suddenly have wool or eggs or milk and fertilizer and…a brand new level of viability.

NOW, we can travel with Heifer International on “Study Tours.” Currently focused on African communities, you go to a project site and learn from the local experts on the ground how the Heifer Project works in action. Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Senegal all have study tour possibilities. A capper of this deep immersion experience is the “Passing on the Gift” ceremony where past recipients of animal gifts, whose animals have given birth to babies, then pass on the gift of livestock to another family in the community. It is watching your work spread in a very real way.