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Ending Global Hunger and Poverty: Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. It provides gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture to financially-disadvantaged families around the world.

Heifer International is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty.  It provides gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture to financially-disadvantaged families around the world.

The Heifer Foundation, established by the board of Heifer International in 1990 to manage the endowment of Heifer International, was created to generate ongoing support for the work of Heifer International by educating the public and serving as an agency for donations.

Founded by American farmer Dan West, West was serving as a Church of the Brethren relief worker in Spain during the Spanish Civil War when he became frustrated at being tasked with deciding how to allocate a very limited amount of food aid.  

Upon his return to the United States, he founded Heifers for Relief, an organization dedicated to providing permanent help to starving families by providing them livestock and training so they "could be spared the indignity of depending on others to feed their children."

Dan West

The basic philosophy of Heifers for Relief was based on the Bible proverb, "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish; you have fed him for a lifetime."  West also conceived the slogan "Give not a cup, but a cow." 

Under West’s plan, each participating family would study animal husbandry and agree to donate any female offspring to another needy family.  By this process, West imagined that a single gift would multiply far beyond the original investment. Heifers for Relief became an official project of the Church of the Brethren's Brethren Service Committee in 1942, and the first shipment of 17 heifers were sent from York, Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico in 1944.

Today, Heifer International gives gifts of cattle, sheep, rabbits, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, heifers, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, and other regionally-adaptable livestock, as well as tree seedlings and other plants.

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Heifer International works to ensure that the gift of each animal will eventually help an entire community to become self-sustaining. The organization provides a breeding animal along with a gift animal so that it can produce offspring. Once immediate needs have been met--termed "meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials and motivation"--a family is free to sell any excess at market.  Participating families are required to "pass on the gift,” giving at least one of the female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer's training.  In time, that neighbor will pass along one of the offspring of its animal, and so on.

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Heifer International is involved in several other progressive global initiatives which provide people with clean water, access to education, and emergency housing.

As of December 31, 2005, the Heifer Foundation's assets and commitments totaled almost $73.2 million, with an endowment of $32.9 million; $21.9 million in trust and annuity funds; and gift commitments totaling more than $17.8 million.

Traditionally, Heifer International raises funds from chapters organized around schools, colleges, and churches. As of 2006, these animals and plants have been distributed in more than 125 countries around the globe, with each gift perpetuating Heifer's interest in agro-ecology and life sustainability.

Today, Heifer International operates three learning centers around the United States. The Heifer Ranch, the previous site of the distribution center in Perryville, Arkansas, was turned into the first educational center in the 1970s.  Since then, the Ceres Education Center in Ceres, California, and the Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts were built as additional learning centers. They offer experiential learning programs for visitors to learn about world hunger, life, and poverty.

Heifer International mission: "Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 65 years, Heifer International has provided gifts of livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Since 1944, Heifer has helped 12 million families--62 million men, women and children--through training in livestock development and livestock gifts that multiply.

Every gift of an animal provides direct benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, as well as indirect benefits that increase family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care and school fees for children, especially girls. Recipients pass on the gift of offspring of their cows, goats and other livestock as well as education and training to others in an ever-widening circle of help and hope.”

President and chief executive officer: Pierre Ferrari

Chairman of the board: Daniel J. Begley

Vice Chairman of the board: John Travalent IV

References:

http://www.heifer.org/

http://blog.heifer.org/

http://heifer.mediaroom.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/heiferinternational

Related Articles:

>  Cruelty to Animals in the US

>  The Peace Corps

>  La Leche League

Visit JAMES R. COFFEY WRITING SERVICES & RESOURCE CENTER for more information

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Comments (6)

An effective approach in combatting global hunger and poverty.

very important issue, which also concern architects from another perspective, you can review the seminal book of Hassan Fathy "Architecture for the Poor, 1972".Thanks for posting

One of the original pay-it-forward schemes. It really doesn't take much to share the wealth. Plant the seed. Learn to take care of it. Teach another.

Its great to feed people BUT what we REALLY need to do is start controlling population growth or this will ALWAYS be a problem.

I love this project, it gives more than food, it gives dignity and education. Most needy people want to be able to help themselves and don't look for handouts. An excellent article.

Thanks everyone for your personal perspective.

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