For more than fifty
years, the organization Heifer International has been fighting poverty and
hunger by giving people livestock. Spokesman Ray White says its mission is to
end hunger by getting people the tools and resources to feed themselves.
The foundation says 9.2 million families in more
than 125 countries have received gifts of livestock and have been trained in effective
agricultural techniques. Families that receive the livestock are encouraged to
share the animal's offspring with other families.
White says his organization recognizes the role
of women in developing countries and one of Heifer's main goals is to promote
gender equality by empowering women. One way to do that is to give the heifer
to the woman, who uses it to benefit her family and the community.
"It is a social justice and human rights issue
that directly leads to ending hunger and poverty," he says. It also levels the
field in societies that are polarized between the rich and poor. Women are
given the power to control the livestock, thus making them income earners and
decision makers. When there are few resources, only boys are sent to school.
Mr. White says that in the communities that have received livestock, there has
been an increase in school enrollment by girls.
Heifer also trains community members to take
control of their projects and the resources that come from this new wealth.
"They learn how to protect their natural resources…and manage income that comes
from the livestock," White says.
He also notes that Heifer International's Africa
Area Program has made great strides during the last decade in addressing
HIV/AIDS. White says families have an opportunity to stay together, live longer
and healthier lives and give project partners a chance for dignity and a
Heifer International says it
recognizes the need to scale up efforts in all area programs, including those
for the Americas, Asia/South Pacific, and Central Eastern Europe