November 24, 2001
THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT CATALOG
I just received ''The Most Important Gift Catalog In
The World.'' That's a bold claim, but consider the chain of events the
catalogue suggests you can set in motion when you purchase a gift animal
from Heifer Project International (HPI):
You pay $120 to donate a sheep in honor of your
mother who always loved these gentle animals. Your mom receives a
handsome gift card, describing the generous contribution you've made in
A desperately poor family in Afghanistan - where
there are three million hungry people - receives a pregnant sheep. Its
wool can be used to make snug blankets and clothes to warm the family.
Sheep often give birth to twins or triplets and can graze on the
hilliest, rockiest pastures.
Each family gives its sheep's first female offspring
to another needy family. In fact, the first family does not have clear
ownership of the sheep until it ''Passes on the Gift.'' The second
family also agrees, when it become an HPI partner, to contribute its
first female offspring to another family in need.
Heifer International has been in China since 1984.
By 1999, 1 million families had been helped with a donated Heifer,
rabbits, goats and other domestic animals. Only two years later, in
2001, the Passing On feature of HPI resulted in reaching 2 million
families in China!
You could encourage your children to save $20
from raking leaves to buy a flock of 10 chicks for a family in Cameroon
or Afghanistan. The protein in just one egg is a nutritious gift for a
hungry child. And a good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year, plenty to
eat, share or sell. Since chicks require little space and can thrive on
readily available scraps, families can make money from poultry at little
Last year 109,000 families were helped by
Heifer International which began in 1944 when a farmer named Dan West
was working as a relief agent, sending reconstituted powdered milk to
refugees. The thought occurred to him, ''These people don't need milk,
but a cow.''
At home he went to his church and said, ''I
need cows to send to these people.'' A farmer raised his hand and said,
''You can have Faith.'' Dan replied, somewhat irritatedly, ''I don't
need faith; I need a cow.'' The farmer said, ''Faith is my cow!'' Soon
Hope and Charity were also sent, pregnant Heifers, so that the family
who received them was twice blessed.
What began as the shipping of animals across
the ocean has evolved into the local purchase of an animal, and the
training of receiving families on how to care for their gift. There are
now 45,000 project partners in 48 countries who oversee distributing 29
species of animals including bees, snails, goats, cows and water
buffalos to very needy families often to a mother supporting a family
For $60 you could donate a trio of rabbits. In
November, 1985 four families in China received 105 rabbits from HPI.
Each family agreed to pass on to a neighbor five rabbits for every
female rabbit received. From that first gift, 30 generations and more
than 40,000 pass-on rabbits have helped more than 2,000 families feed
themselves, becoming self-reliant.
As the gift multiplied, family income soared
as much as 200 percent. The rabbits helped poor farmers pay for
essentials - clothing, medicine, school fees and improving their
Ten years ago there were 1 billion people who
were insecure for food and income. Heifer International alone has been
responsible for helping lift 100,000,000 people out of extreme need.
Today an estimated 841 million people are still going hungry.
The task seems immense, but HPI makes it easy.
The Heifer Project's genius is that it does
not give a hungry child a fish but teaches him to fish. Former U.S.
Ambassador to China James Sasser says, ''Heifer Project bestows the gift
of self-reliance. From this foundation, amazing things can happen.''
Are you are tired of giving gifts to people
who do not need them? Joe David Rice used to give canned popcorn to his
staff at the Arkansas State Tourism Office. Last year, with a $250 check
he bought a water buffalo on behalf of his staff to help a family in the
Phillippines. He told me, ''My staff really enjoyed it, and talked about
it for weeks afterward, speculating on what part of the water buffalo
If you would like to make a gift, call 800
422-0755. Still unsure? Order the free Gift Catalogue at 800 698-2511.
Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.