How Heifer International Creates a Movement of Change for Families


This holiday season gifting animals to families in need in low-income countries can mean the difference between them living in abject poverty or being self-sufficient. I interviewed Cindy Jones-Nyland, Chief Marketing Officer of Heifer International about how they work with families around the world and transforms their lives.

  1. When people buy animals as gifts for those in need, how long does it take for families to receive that gift? 

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We work with families to provide training regarding proper animal well-being techniques, including animal health, nutrition and breeding.  Heifer projects are customized to achieve the objectives of the communities with which we work so there is no standard timeframe in which animals are distributed. In general, animals are delivered within 12 to 18 months of the project cycle start.

  1. Which animals are most gifted during the holiday season? 

Goats, heifers and bees are pretty popular this time of year. Heifers are classic, and what’s not to love about goats? A gift of bees goes great with a jar of local honey for the recipient.

  1. When families are gifted animals or farming seeds and supplies what is the follow-up like for these families? Are they taught how to take care of the animals and are their crops monitored for maximum yields? 

Families learn how to take care of their animals, build them appropriate shelter and receive training in environmentally-friendly agriculture before Heifer International even places the livestock. Families receive follow-up throughout the life of the project, which typically lasts three to five years. We have been working on a rigorous project monitoring system that will provide us with the fullest picture possible about our participant families’ progress.

  1. How are families chosen to receive these gifts?

The way recipient families are chosen can vary slightly by program. Our staff and partners look for families with a balance of need for assistance and ability to care for their animal donations. Participating in a range of trainings, like animal well-being, gender and family relations and Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development are prerequisites.

Giving Heifer at the holidays is a win-win. Givers, recipients and participants all become part of a movement of change. Together, we are making the world a better place, where families can feed themselves and care for the planet. Check out Heifer’s new PSA released just in time for the holidays

Learn more at www.heifer.org.

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