- Our Work
- Get Involved
- Inside Heifer
- Ideas in Action
Imagine you had no chance. You have no money and little food, five kids and another on the way. You've been working since you were a kid just to help your family survive. Since school costs money you don't have much of it.
Imagine working all your life as a near slave—completely at the mercy of your landlord—desperate just to survive.
After a while you begin to think your opinion doesn't count—no one's ever asked. What would it matter anyway? You're poor and powerless.
Poor in resources
You become poor in spirit
This is the condition many of our project participants find themselves in. They are dispirited by the struggles of their lives and hopeless that they can change them. That is why, in all of our projects, we include Full Participation as a key element of our core project training which we call the Heifer Cornerstones.
When we begin to work in a community we organize project participants into groups. These groups will learn together and serve as the vehicles through which Heifer animals are given. Within these groups we encourage participants to save and begin to think about how they can change their futures together.
Key to this idea is that everyone in the group, from the lowliest peasant to a community leader, gets to share their ideas and opinions on an equal plane. By allowing everyone to share their ideas we not only get a broader set of solutions to a problem but voices that were once silenced begin to express themselves.
In many of our projects we find time and time again that participants who once thought their ideas didn't matter, when encouraged to participate, emerge as leaders with innovative ways to solve their community's problems.
To see how full participation impacted one life read the story of Sushila Ranamagear in Nepal. Sushila comes from an ethnic minority, and because of class, language, and ethnic barriers she was hesitant to participate in her Self-Help Group. But with Heifer's emphasis on full participation she found her voice and emerged as a leader and entrepreneur in her community