November 19, 2010

Heifer International Headquarters, Little Rock, Arkansas

Have you ever heard of Heifer International? If you haven't, that's OK because I hadn't either until arriving in Little Rock. When we pulled up to the Clinton library, I saw this building next door that said Heifer Village and Heifer International Headquarters. Linda said "Oh really, we should check it out". As it turned out, a co-worker of ours in Livorno would donate to that charity and that's how Linda had heard of it.

A model of sustainable agriculture, with multiple crop fields that are rotated regularly
So, being literally across the river from our campsite (we could see it from the trailer), we cruised over there in the morning before heading over to Central High School NHS.

The same farm with a fish pond, compost pile, and beehives for pollination and honey
Anyways, the focus of this organization is to end hunger and poverty in the third world by self-sustainability. So, they focus on getting communities the resources they need to be able to live without outside assistance. When they were originally founded, they started by giving livestock to individual families. The name Heifer International came from the heifer cow. They also give pigs, chickens, goats, bees, and sheep, depending on the region they are working in, local customs, and the ability to survive in that environment.

Mosquito nets can reduce malaria rates by 70%, but the $2 cost is overwhelming for most in the third world
They also work on other things like sustainable farming practices, water conservation, and health. They help people develop ways to recycle their resources and access water. For instance, in the model they had above of an southeast Asian farm, they had a compost pile of farm waste for fertilzer. They also have a fish pond, where they can dump vegetative waste. The growing algae feeds the fish and provides much needed protein nutrition where it would be otherwise difficult to get.  Also, in many areas, women and girls spend hours each day collecting fire wood for cooking.  By collecting methane from livestock waste, they can burn this for cooking and thus not have to expend so much time collecting wood.  When women and girls also don't have to spend hours collecting drinking water, think that they might have options for school and education because they might have the time to pursue those activiites instead.

Read this information above
They also focus on education, especially of women. Not necessarily traditional schooling with little everyday practical uses, but training people to do things to improve their community. Read above.

An interesting comparison of the grains we eat (left) and what the rest of the world eats (right)
They also had exhibits of things we can do in the richer countries to lower our impact on the planet. It included the type of foods we can eat, packaging (or lack thereof) we use, energy conservation, and recycling.

They had a children's book about a 9-year old girl in Uganda who was given a goat by this organization. This goat was enough to provide milk for the family. It and its offspring produced enough extra milk that they could sell the milk at the local market. The money they earned was enough to send the girl to school, where she was a real academic, despite her very late start. She is now doing her Master's Degree at the Clinton School of Public Service across the street and plans to take her training and expertise back to Uganda to help her communities. Hilina enjoys reading this book when we are driving on the road.

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