First Presbyterian’s Mission – Heifer Project
First Presbyterian Church has been working with the Heifer Project for more than 20 years. We’ve helped stock many barnyards with animals or in heifer-talk, we’ve filled more than one ark with lifesaving and life-changing animals.The premise of Heifer is like the old adage Give a family a fish and they will be fed for a day. Show them how to fish and they can feed themselves forever.Heifer is also self-perpetuating through animal husbandry.
The queen of the barnyard; producer of milk, cream, butter and cheese. !he comes to a family carrying a calf. Her first born will be given to another family. Future calves remain theirs. A cow can produce enough milk to more than feed a family with plenty leftover to sell. For many families, the milk sales enable the children to attend school and receive medical care. Cow dung is a source of fertilizer and fuel. With an average of 10 years of productive life, one heifer can multiply into a herd.
A family is given honeybee hives. Nature provides the bees’ food sources. The bees make honey while at the same time pollinating the local crops. Honey is the only food that includes all the essential elements necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even water. Its unique chemical makeup also allows it to be preserved indefinitely. !o, the bees not only help their host family but the entire village and environment. Healthy trees and grasses are the first stage of warding of global warming. Bees have been in jeopardy with die-offs. Helping to replenish Mother Earth is an act of giving back to God what He has loaned to us. That’s definitely food for thought.
The old saying of multiplying like rabbits is quite true. A Heifer gift of rabbits consists of a trio – two does and a buck. A rabbit matures in six months and their gestation period is 31 days. A normal liter is 4 to 12 babies. One doesn’t need Einstein’s mathematical skills to figure out we could be wall-to wall bunnies within a few months. Rabbits provide meat, fur and fertilizer. And they’re just so darn cute.
After being trained in chicken care and having prepared living quarters, a family is given a flock of chicks. One hen can produce as many as 200 eggs per year. After the chicks have matured and brooded, the family gives the first born to another family. In this way, the blessing is passed on and one family can become a village of people who have helped one another rise-up out of poverty. Chickens provide eggs and meat that can be consumed, given away or sold. Their feathers fill pillows and mattresses. Their poop fertilizes crops. The chicken’s gift can change the health of many and fairly quickly. A chicken can lay eggs at 6 months of age. They don’t need a lot of care and pretty much feed themselves with bugs.
For generations, Heifer International has provided resources and training for struggling small-scale farmers in order to give them a chance to change their circumstances. But solving hunger and poverty on a global scale requires focus on sound, community-based work aligned with a long-term commitment to achieving self-reliance.