This conversation is sponsored by Heifer International. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
One of my all-time favorite non-profits is Heifer International. Are you familiar with this amazing organization? It facilitates community development by providing livestock to individuals and communities, as well as training so that small-scale farmers can develop their agriculture, animal husbandry and business skills. The gifts of livestock and education transform over time into healthy incomes and growing local economies. Livestock owners then pass on the gift when they breed new animals so that other community members can also benefit. In short, Heifer International uses livestock to help families and communities become self-reliant.
For several years, I took college students each May to the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas to learn more about the organization, and to have an immersive experience where we could learn a little bit more about what life is like in several of the developing communities in which Heifer operates. We lived in representative housing, learned how to prepare the types of food that would be typical of members of this community, and learned about what a huge difference livestock makes to the livelihood (and diets) of gift recipients.
I really love the fact that Heifer International is so holistic in its nature. It wants to help communities be able to lift themselves up through economic means, as well as through nutritional improvements, such as the milk that cows, goats and sheep can provide. Many American homes take having milk readily available for granted, but it’s simply not the case everywhere. Heifer would like to help change that. In Tanzania, Heifer has worked with the dairy farmers there to help them increase their milk production for the past 9 years. Now it is time to increase the markets for these farmers! Government agencies and school districts have formed a partnership with the farmers and Heifer to create a win/win for the entire community: the School Milk Feeding Program. The program aims to increase the well-being and nutrition of the students, decrease hunger in the classroom so the focus can be on learning, create a market for milk that is consistent and reliable, and increase the farmers’ incomes and by so doing, reduce poverty in the area.
This program just launched in July of this year, and already 1,742 students in the Njombe region of Tanzania are receiving fresh 200ml packets of pasteurized milk every Monday-Friday of the school year. What an incredible start! But there are many more students who could benefit from this program. The goal is to provide 9,000 students (ages 9 and under) in 4 different regions of the country with free, fresh milk every school day.
This is where families like mine and yours come into play. Any size donation can help move this project closer to its goal. For example, by donating $75 (40 cents/day), you can provide enough milk for one student for an entire year!
We are going to make “earning milk money” a part of our chore cycle in The House of M. Specifically, my girls are going to be taking care of our own animals (3 cats) as a way to earn money. We’ve set a goal of $25 for them to earn by the end of the year and they are up for the challenge! By feeding our cats, brushing them, giving them exercise by playing with them, and yes, keeping their litter boxes clean, they can earn funds that we will send to Heifer for this particular program (spoiler alert, I’ve actually already sent the money so that it can be put to work right away!). Perhaps you could encourage your children to earn some money for this program, as well? Animal care seems like a great fit to me, but really any chore that promotes responsibility and self-reliance would fall in line with the vision Heifer International sets. You can make a big difference for the children and the farmers in Tanzania, and hopefully help your own homes run a little bit more smoothly in the process. Won’t you join me?