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Heifer International

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Phone: (310) 305-8411

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Heifer International

Heifer InternationalNearly 900 million people go to bed hungry every day – 300 million of them are children.

The producers of Mean Cuisine are committed to making a difference and are proud to assist Heifer International in their mission ‘to end hunger by making people self-sufficient’ by donating a portion of the profits from the film to the Heifer organization. Since its inception in 1944, Heifer International has helped more than 12 million families in the United States and 125 other countries end the cycle of hunger by creating micro-businesses, building schools and lifting entire communities out of poverty.

Heifer’s model uses carefully selected livestock to create an immediate continuous food source that also gives a secondary income through the family’s micro-business. Their multi-pronged approach attacks poverty at every level by addressing immediate needs of hunger, shelter and clean water; creating economic growth with micro-business loans, skill development and marketing venues; addressing social problems of gender discrimination and community leadership; and establishing long-term development with schools, libraries, community activism and environmental friendly practices. Through donations and their gift catalogue, Heifer gives specially bred farm animals to trained recipients, teaches them how to build a business and continues to guide them for approximately five years. This multiplying supply of food and income expands into the local community and lifts entire villages out of poverty permanently.

Here’s how Heifer International works:

When a local community requests assistance, Heifer collaborates with the group to determine: What do we need? What are our resources? What would we like to see happen in five years?
This planning and management model emphasizes:

  • Creating an immediate food source that is also a secondary income source
  • Businesses that can be sustained locally with minimal expenditures
  • Local ownership of the decision making process
  • Participation of all people regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion
  • Inclusion of traditional, indigenous knowledge
  • Empowerment of individuals to make changes in their lives
  • Communities working together
  • Outsiders as facilitators of change

Heifer creates a list of animals that will thrive in the area but the communities themselves decide which animals and micro-businesses they want, who should receive the animals, and the training methods to make their project successful. The recipients must first train in animal care and business skills, build shelter for the animals and plant indigenous vegetation to feed the animal rather than be forced to buy feed. The moment the livestock arrives the family has an immediate protein food source in milk or eggs and a secondary source to build a business created from the wool, cheese, down, or draft power. Families are not only able to feed themselves, but also earn extra money, send their children to school, and share their resources and knowledge with neighbors. Animals are locally derived which supports the local economy. And Heifer’s committed to gender equity ensures that women share in the benefits of training, ownership, and income, and that projects enable men to own their own businesses locally, rather than seek low-paying, seasonal, and often distant employment.

But one of the secrets to Heifer’s success is the unique promise every recipient must make to donate one of their animal’s offspring to another family in need. This “Passing on the Gift” continues until the entire community is transformed, multiplying the benefits of the original gift exponentially. As people share the offspring of their animals – along with knowledge, resources, and skills – an expanding network of hope, dignity, community support and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe. “Passing on the Gift” creates continuous community improvement and enhances self-esteem by allowing recipients to become donors.

Heifer projects succeed because:

  • Communities develop technical skills, learn to manage resources, build community leadership
    and governance structures which create continuous improvement.
  • More food is accessible in the community, improving nutrition and increasing family income
    and savings.
  • Children have access to education. Participants learn marketable skills that are shared with the community.
  • Gender equality reduces violence, increases family involvement and increases the number
    of girls in school.
  • Communities work together to improve the environment.
  • Livestock is transferred to others through “Passing on the Gift” which transforms recipients into donors and creates a community supported asset-transfer system that continues indefinitely.

In 2009, Heifer had 928 active projects in 54 countries, including 28 states in the U.S. Heifer’s sustainable approach ends hunger and poverty permanently – one family, one animal at a time. It’s not temporary relief. It’s not a handout. It’s securing a future for generations of people, giving them hope, health and dignity. By creating continuous sources of food and income, we can break the cycle of poverty.


Heifer International