Heifer International

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Ending hunger one cow at a time
United States
Photo by Heifer International

Moved by the plight of the orphans he attended to during the Spanish Civil War, Dan West realized these individuals needed “a cow, not a cup” – the difference between temporary aid and a long-term investment in overcoming poverty and hunger. Returning to the United States, he founded Heifer International on this principle. The organization provides families with a ‘living loan’ – a donation of livestock, accompanied with training in animal husbandry, care and sustainable grazing methods. The receiving family must “pass on the gift” by transferring their knowledge and donating one or more of their animal’s offspring to another family. This practice ensures project sustainability, develops community and enhances self-esteem by allowing project partners to become donors.

A highly-participatory model, Heifer International works with communities to decide what types of animals and production systems they want, and who should receive animals. Since its inception, the organization has helped 15.5 million families in more than 125 countries move toward greater self-reliance, with third-party evaluations confirming a substantive impact on household incomes, assets and family nutrition.

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