Heifer International Group helps families overcome poverty and hunger by “teaching them to fish”
Editor Elizabeth Herzing interviews Jen Girten, manager of education program development at Heifer International, about the organization’s mission to combat world hunger and poverty. They believe gifts of training and livestock can help families turn hunger and poverty into an opportunity of hope and prosperity.
q. How did Heifer International get started?
a. Heifer International was founded more than seventy years ago by Dan West, an American farmer and aid worker during the Spanish Civil War. Each day he handed out cups of milk to weary refugees—mostly children. And then he thought: What if they had not a cup, but a cow? The “teach a man to fish” philosophy continues to inspire our work to put a definitive end to world hunger and poverty. Animal gifts provide partners with food and a reliable source of income, while agricultural products such as milk, eggs, and honey provide a commodity for trade. At the core of our model is Passing on the Gift®, which encourages families to pass on the first female offspring of their gifted livestock to another family in need. This act extends the impact of the original gift and transforms a once-struggling family into an active participant in improving their community—the gift that keeps on giving.