Sunday, January 11, 2009

Be an enabler...

I'm always on the look out for good causes. This one I ran across several years ago when chatting with a man I've known all my life. Butch has known my family for years. He attended church in the church I grew up in. His family is one of the families that have enabled that church to remain in existence for over 100 years (I think the church is around 180, now.) Anyway, as we say in the South, he's good people.

Butch is one of those people who are at an age and in an income level that they have pretty much everything they need. You know the kind. You can't ever plan ahead for Birthdays or Christmas because they buy everything they need or want and leave you grasping at straws for ideas.

His daughter needed something truly unpredictable for a Christmas gift. She found this charity called Heifer International. Boy, did she get Butch a one of a kind gift! He was tickled pink and couldn't wait to tell me about it. She got him a cow (or goat. It's been a few years and I can't remember which.) No, not for him to have. He lives in the city. Where would he put a cow? It was to be given to someone else. Someone probably far away and in far greater need than a man with everything.

Heifer International is a company that enables people in poverty to become entreperneurs and build a sustainable community. It can all start with a chicken, or duck, or heifer, of course. Yep, you heard right! They do all this with the aid of some pretty special critters.

For those of you who didn't grow up on a farm, let me explain. Each of God's little creation has a special talent, even us. A chicken lays eggs, a duck lays eggs and sheds usable feathers, a cow (heifer) bears milk, a lamb provides wool, etc...

Here's what happens:
You or a group your involved in purchase an animal, large or small, then Heifer International sends the animal to someone in need. Let's say it's a cow. The cow is not used for food, it is bred for calves and milked. The milk is turned into cheese, milk or other by-products and sold in the local marketplace. The calves are either sold or used to further the stock of the original owner. Instant business!

People who were previously unable to care for themselves and their families benefit from the new enterprise. They reinvest money in their community and the entire community improves!

The wonderful thing about Heifer International is that they don't stop there. Heifer helps these people learn about Agroecology (sustainable farming practices), they teach the families how to properly care for the animals, promote gender equality by gifting to men and women, promote HIV-AIDS awareness and provide prevention information, provide Microenterprise loans (no interest start-up cash for those in need of help starting their businesses), teach Urban Agriculture (how to farm with city limitations), AND have a Young People's Initiative that provides youth with the same opportunities as their parents, which in turn teaches them how to care for future generations...Wow! That's a lot of stuff for one organization!

In 2007, Heifer had 867 active projects. These projects were active in 53 countries or provinces and 28 states in the United States. So, don't feel like this business only takes care of people you'll never see. They help right here at home, too!

Can you think of any better gift for someone you love? A gift that keeps on giving for generations to come. A gift of a better life for someone who you may never meet but are able, in ways big or small, to help. That's the best gift of all. One that never needs to be returned to a store. One that is always the right size. One that comes in just the right color. It's the color of hope. It's the size of your heart and the only thing the recipients return is a smile that lasts a lifetime.

Here's a link to their online gift catalog. Even if you're not ready to give, it will give you ideas about what your contribution could provide:

In closing, I encourage you to become an enabler. Enable someone around you to grow and prosper, if not through this company then in your own way. There is nothing stopping you from creating a program similar to this right in your own back yard!

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