I have recently taken my annual journey back home to the United States for the rainiest of the rainy months in Panama. While here, I am set on exploring the wealth of well planned and executed projects that relate to our goals at Kalu Yala. The U.S. is brimming with exciting examples of sustainable principles not merely on paper, but in action. One such project is the Heifer International Ranch in Northwest Arkansas.
Heifer International was started in 1944 by Dan West, a Midwestern farmer who served as a relief worker to starving victims of the Spanish Civil War.
“These children don’t need a cup, they need a cow.”
Upon his return to the states he helped to send the first shipment of 17 heifers from New York and Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico. “Each family receiving a heifer agrees to “pass on the gift” and donate the female offspring to another family, so that the gift of food is never-ending. This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for more than 65 years.” The Heifer project has aided 62 million people up to date. Today, Heifer no longer ships animals, but instead gives the gift of local and environmentally appropriate livestock to families in need around the world.
The story of Heifer International is critical because it demonstrates that when taken seriously, sustainability and social entrepreneurship are not here today, gone tomorrow trendy buzzwords, nor are they in conflict with wealth and profitability. The ideals behind them are rooted in practicality, honest business, and a desire to afford dignity to all people.