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 sustainable future.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