To get somewhere different, we must do something different. Every Heifer project is grounded in 12 solid principles that that lay the framework for change and defines our culture and character. It’s our roadmap for brighter tomorrows.
At our heart lies Passing on the Gift. The nature of our work allows families to become the cycle of positive change; those who received Heifer gifts become donors and Pass on the Gift of possibilities and shared successes to others in the community.
After their projects are established, families that received resources from Heifer—such as livestock, seeds or training—pass on these gifts to other families in need in their community, allowing them to help others as they have been helped.
In what specific ways has someone helped you or your family in the last month? Perhaps someone pitched in with childcare during an emergency, brought over a meal or simply listened to a problem you were struggling with. Using the spirit of that gift, how can you pass it along to someone else in need? Whether reaching out to old friends or to a stranger, the idea is to help someone in the way you've been helped, a way that might not have occurred to you before.
We are responsible to the communities we serve.
Participants in Heifer projects, including Heifer staff, partner organizations and the communities being helped, must work together to achieve common goals. Heifer provides livestock, supplies, expertise and support, while project participants reciprocate with hard work and a pledge to pass on what they learn and receive.
We're all part of communities, from the family level to the global level, so we must be accountable for the resources we use and the actions we take. Take responsibility for your place in the world. Recycle, volunteer and take a genuine interest in the people and happenings around you. Make a list of ways you can be accountable to your family, friends and community and refer to it throughout the year.
We can solve the world’s problems if everyone commits to sharing resources and caring for others.
Cooperation and friendship are key components of all Heifer projects. Recipients of animals and trainings are expected to share what they learn with their neighbors. It's not uncommon for Heifer project recipients to share their animals' bounty, too. Families who receive draft animals often help till neighbors' fields, and people with chickens often share eggs.
Most of us have enough to share. Making a donation is an easy thing to do and so is volunteering your time to help a nonprofit organization. But there are smaller ways to share and care that are just as meaningful. Taking a meal to an elderly neighbor, offering an afternoon of babysitting to a tired parent or even just picking up litter so the park is nicer for everyone else are excellent ways to show you care.
The families we work with strive for sustainable, self-reliant lives so that they will continue to thrive on their own.
Short-term fixes eat up resources and don't help families learn how to provide for themselves in the long term. Heifer projects focus on caring for animals and the Earth so that they continue to produce. Participants get an initial boost from Heifer, but help comes in the form of tools and knowledge that will allow them to make their own way.
Be mindful of your weight on the planet. Could you tread more lightly? When you can, eat foods that are grown locally. Carpool or walk. Reuse and recycle. Be aware of the true price of what you buy. Was the person who made it fairly compensated? Was the air, water or soil polluted?
Our farmers learn how to keep their animals safe, healthy and productive.
In order for livestock to be a healthy and productive on any farm, Heifer first ensures that the species and breed is an appropriate fit for the area and for the families who will receive the gift animals. Farmers then attend trainings to ensure they can provide the animals with adequate food, water, shelter and health care. When animals are healthy and productive, families benefit and there is a favorable impact on the environment.
Training and preparation for livestock often takes the entire first year of a five-year Heifer project. Project participants learn animal health and husbandry, integration of livestock into the ecosystem and improvement of the environment. Preparations for animals include building shelters and planting fodder. Heifer also trains community animal health workers who can administer vaccinations and other medicines to keep gift animals healthy.
Farmers reap rewards from their gift animal through the consumption and/or sale of products such as milk, eggs, meat, cheese, honey and wool.
Heifer farmers enjoy improved diets and finances. Some use livestock to till fields, increasing crop yields, or to haul goods to market. It's not uncommon for the farmers we work with to share extra milk with their neighbors or to loan out their oxen to help others till their fields.
Be aware of the impact your diet has on others. Do you know how your produce was grown and harvested? Were the workers who picked and processed your food paid a living wage? Whenever possible, opt for locally and sustainably grown fruit, meat and vegetables.
Women and men are encouraged to share in decision making as well as in the benefits the animals and training bring.
In Heifer's work, gender equity is central to success. Men and women must work side by side in equally respected roles and responsibilities for a family to create a better future, which is why Heifer confronts issues of patriarchy and inequality head on.
Encourage girls to study math and science, and support female entrepreneurs. Raise your sons to treat women as equals, and make sure you advocate education for both genders equally. Parents, teach your boys how to cook and teach your girls how to wield a hammer.
Those most in need are given priority in receiving animals and training.
We provide livestock and training to those with a genuine need—those lacking adequate nutrition and money for medicine and education. In many cases, poverty is a result of discrimination and racism and Heifer seeks to empower those who are disenfranchised because of their ethnicity, sex or social status.
Genuine need exists everywhere, not just in developing countries. So does discrimination and bias. Be generous with your time and resources, and be mindful of respecting people from different backgrounds.
Sustainable farming techniques, reforestation and tree-saving biogas are important components in all of our projects.
Caring for the Earth is a huge part of our mission and is present in every Heifer project. Animals are chosen based largely on how appropriate they are for the local environment. Will they overburden or pollute the water supply? Will it be difficult to find or grow abundant fodder? Reforestation is a facet of Heifer projects in areas stripped of trees, and manure and crop residues are used to reinvigorate poor soil.
Environmental degradation is a problem to which we all contribute, so we all have a responsibility to help the Earth heal. Be mindful of how your choices of what to eat, how to travel and where to live affect people, animals and ecosystems around you.
Everyone is expected to work together to bring about their community’s transformation.
Virtually everyone in communities where Heifer works has something to contribute. Heifer calls everyone to the table, especially women living in cultures where they have traditionally been excluded or undervalued. Our actions create big change, affecting everyone, and therefore must take everyone's opinions into account.
Think about who will be affected by the decisions you make, and be sure those people's perspectives are taken into account. And more broadly, remember that the fight to end hunger and poverty calls us all to action. Educate yourself. Reach out. Donate. Enlist your friends.
Participants learn nuts-and-bolts skills such as how to build sturdy pens and grow fodder. They also receive in-depth training in all 12 Cornerstones.
Training & Education are key to ensuring that animals are well cared for and that self-reliance is achieved by project farmers. Cornerstone training helps participants tap into their own wisdom and strengths, both as individuals and as communities.
You can't solve a problem if you don't know about it, so stay informed of what's happening around you, both locally and globally. Encourage curiosity and support making decent education available worldwide.
Our common belief lies in the value of all life, a sense of connectedness to the Earth and a shared vision of the future.
While Heifer International has its roots in the Church of the Brethren, the mission embraces people of all faiths, both as contributors and recipients.
It doesn't matter where you go (or don't go) to worship, all of the world's great religions call upon us to give. Contribute time, money, expertise and goodwill whenever you can.