As part of the Green Pre-event for the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association we had the opportunity to tour Heifer International's headquarters and Ranch.
Heifer International is dedicated to "ending hunger and saving the earth." They offer many programs for youth at the Ranch outside of Little Rock, including the Global Village, where youth can take part in a simulation of life in impoverished areas. Groups stay overnight in villages representing Guatemala, Thailand, and Zambia. Some villages are given more food than others; some villages have electricity and running water, others have none. Each participant is assigned a role, and adults are given the role of babies so youth have to make decisions on how to best utilize the resources they are given. The opportunities for learning are immense, and I would love to take a youth group to participate in the Global Village! Heifer has similar programs in other areas as well. Below is a picture of the Thailand Village.
Before visiting the Heifer Ranch, I was familiar with the organization, but I didn't know the whole story of "passing on the gift." Heifer International places livestock in communities that receive training in leadership and community development before the livestock arrive. The community votes on who will receive the first animal, and this person must pledge to give the first female offspring to another community member. That person must pledge the same, thus "passing on the gift," and further empowering the community. Instead of feeding people for a day, Heifer supplies the means for communities to grow through the "seven M's" of livestock, shown in the painting below.
For an alternative gift idea, you can buy friends and family a goat, chicken, rabbit, llama, or other livestock through Heifer International. The gift will go to help a community in need, and your friends and family will learn more about a great organization.