Thursday, March 29, 2012

Heifer International

While walking around the Clinton Presidential Center and Park Monday we were surprised to discover that Heifer International is located next door to that complex. All I knew about that non-profit organization is that when our children were in Sunday school they sometimes would save their pennies to buy a cow for some third world country through Heifer International. I had some time left after visiting the presidential center on Tuesday, so I walked over to Heifer to see if I could tour that place. There are two tours available there, one of their Heifer Village and another of the office building. I started at the Heifer Village and learned a great deal more about the organization. It was started in the 1940s when Sam West was working for his church (Church of the Brethren) in Spain. He was frustrated with the meager allotments of milk he could dole out to the needy refugees in that country, so when he returned stateside he started up Heifer International with the help of his church. His mantra then became "better to give a cow than a cup". Over the years since then the organization has provided not only heifers, but also camels, water buffaloes, goats, geese, bees, chicks, tree seedlings in about 125 countries. I was surprised to learn that Heifer has also had projects going in the United States. And, also contrary to what I thought, they are currently not connected with any church body. I also learned that every project is to be self-sustaining. That is, that local people are to learn how to care for their animals and also are expected to pass on any female offspring to another family in their village.
 During the tour of Heifer International's office complex I discovered that the building, as the Clinton Library, was also built to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency. Rain water is collected in a large tank and recycled for use in the building, all building materials were purchased within 500 miles of the complex, and insulating material is made of jersey cotton and soy bean- that is to name only a few of the green features of the building. I was certainly pleased to have had the opportunity to check out Heifer International!

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