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As a donor to Heifer International and someone who has raised her own chickens and eggs for more than 30 years, I found your recent article “Egg- Conomics” (February 2013) to be totally silly and ill-informed.
First of all, why would an organization that promotes providing poor people with chickens for eggs inform us that we (relatively well off) cannot afford to raise our own eggs? This is insane! This would suggest that we are making these people even poorer by giving them chickens!
Second, so let’s assume that the eggs we raise ourselves are expensive. Compared to what? There is simply no comparison between the delicious, nutritious, humanely raised egg from a farmstead where hens are allowed to forage on pasture versus the pale, bland egg from an industrial egg factory. Chickens also provide other benefits around the homestead, including recycling of kitchen scraps, rototilling the garden and pest control. Oh, and you can eat them, too.
I have long wondered how women in the Third World deal with periods. Two items that can be used for menstrual blood are The Keeper, a $35 organic, reusable insert that can last a decade, and the sponge, which is simply a small sea sponge used like a tampon, but that can be washed for reuse. These two, used interchangeably, last for several years and cost next to nothing.
Both of these are cheaper than a lifetime of tampons and avoid the bleachladen, non-compostable, one-time-use pads and tampons currently in use in much of the world.
Better still would be changing the entrenched, irrational attitudes about menstrual blood and women’s bodies. On the same page you mention women’s safety during toilet use: the odd juxtaposition of disgust (menstruation) and desire (potential rape) deserves closer examination and reckoning.
I was very pleased to see the short article in World Ark about helping women with their periods in developing countries. I sometimes wonder how women in developing countries deal with this taboo topic, especially with issues like debilitating cramps and clotting. Thank you for the information on this important and often overlooked topic!
THE GIFT OF GIVING
I was interested in Austin Bailey’s article “Growing Kindness” (February 2013) with its emphasis on teaching children about need and helping them find ways to help. I thought you might be interested in what has proven to be successful with my eight grandchildren. Five years ago I told these grandchildren that I was going to increase what I spent for each of them for Christmas, but that the extra $15 would go to buy an animal from Heifer with their combined $120 total. Their job that day was to look through the brochures I’d brought and decide together which animal they would give as their gift. After a lot of discussion, the vote was in favor of a goat. Each year since, we’ve followed the same pattern, and in December the Christmas tree bears a thank-you card to each child for the contribution toward an animal for a needy family. This has worked to remind even the teenagers that recognizing need and providing help is important in our family.
W. Bloomfield, Mich.
GLASS HALF EMPTY?
The strategy listed in “Pouring It On” (February 2013) has been around for 75 years. Of course, it is good that this cooperative event is taking place. Better late than never. These countries have the technology to wage warfare, commit genocide and use agriculture as a weapon. You never read an article about the politics of corruption. Accomplishing these one-off success stories is admirable. But without structural change in these countries, is there any benefit to anyone except the lucky few?
I just finished reading your article on the East Africa Dairy Development Program (“Pouring it On,” February 2013). It was very interesting and full of hope for a formerly hopeless people.
For the sake of the animals, though, I pray that East Africa does not follow the path of America’s dairy industry. The suffering of most dairy animals is incomprehensible, besides the fact that a good portion of our milk is so full of chemicals and antibiotics that it isn’t even healthy for us anymore. Maybe they can be taught to do as we say, and not as we do.
Q&A February Do you think we in developed countries take education for granted? If so, how can that be changed?
The children in developed countries have taken education for granted for years. I have worked with Rotary Youth Exchange since 1999. Most of our kids have no idea why they even need to attend school. I believe it comes from the environment they are in, the media pushing the need for all the material possessions and the correct clothing to be cool, and disrespect for people and property. I know there are kids who see the importance of education, but they are the minority. I do not have any answers except for programs like yours. Adults and kids need to see and grasp the reality of life for too many people in this world. I would have every teenager go on exchange to poor areas anywhere in the world or be required to do some kind of work in any impoverished area. It will not happen overnight, but I continue to have hope when I volunteer with teenagers.
As a former upper grades teacher, I would have to answer a resounding yes, that we, especially our students, in developed countries take education for granted. My students were capable mathematicians and wordsmiths; they applied themselves to achieve high marks, but often without intrinsic motivation or a sense of purpose for their academic growth. I think we adults have focused so much on academic achievement that we have forgotten to help our students to understand why their education is important, and what roles we hope and expect them to play in society as adults, as beneficiaries of this education. How do we get our students to value education and engage more fully? Perhaps all schools should take a lesson from Berea College and utilize their concept of learning, labor and service. Students, especially fledgling adults in adolescence, need to feel useful, productive and responsible for more than their academic growth. They are capable of helping to keep their own environments clean and safe, and they are able to share their academic knowledge for the benefit of others. While schools may say that there is no time for this in the academic day, I would argue that leaving the element of real and substantive service work out of the educational program is just as detrimental as eliminating math or language from the curriculum.
Do people in the United States and other developed nations have a responsibility to respond when disasters strike in poor countries? Why or why not?
Email your answers to worldark@list. heifer.org. Please limit your answer to 250 words or fewer, and include the city and state where you live. We reserve the right to edit responses for length, clarity and grammar.