Three months!  Perfect timing for a new post…  I promise the posts about the wedding will eventually fade away.  But I’m still reminiscing and re-living the moments!!  As for the triathlon posts… well, doubtful.  🙂

Slurpees at 7-Eleven with the Wedding Party

Slurpees at 7-Eleven with the Wedding Party

On our wedding day, as a gift to our guests we decided to forgo the typical ‘party favor’.  So instead of small gifts we purchased a Heifer in honor of everyone that shared in our special day!  I believe some folks may have had questions about what this meant… A Heifer?!  If you have an opportunity check out Heiffer International.  It is a great charity!  Below is a rather lengthy, but great letter we received in thanks for our donation.  It reinforced the purpose of the gift!  It might not always be possible… but I think it would be wonderful if Max and I could purchase a Heifer every year of our marriage!!  We shall see…  Please enjoy the letter.

Dear Max and Molly,

I recently experienced your support making a powerful difference in the life of a determined woman named Helen Kabasa.

Helen was one of the Heifer project participants I visited with while in Kenya this past June.

And as she showed me around her farm near the village of Komolo, I couldn’t help but think of donors such as you and how much I wished you could see just how far your support can go in the hands of someone like Helen.

You see, several years ago, when Helen first approached Heifer International for help, she was sick, weak and very scared.

She had just lost her husband to AIDS and she desperately needed to find a way to feed their children all by herself.  But her own health was deteriorating and she feared her children were destined to become orphans.

So we invited Helen and a group of women in the Komolo area to join a project we designed specifically for families who have been affected by AIDS.

The project was made possible by the combined generosity of supporters like you who provided the necessary resources to distribute heifers, dairy goats, donkeys and oxen among the group members.

Helen received two of those oxen and began an incredible journey of transformation.

I invite you to once again open the doors of opportunity for another family like Helen’s by making a special gift of $500, $750, or $1,000 to support our Despair to Dreams Campaign under way at this very moment.

The goal of this special campaign is to help more families move from a cycle of dependence to a lifetime of empowerment.  And whether it’s in Komolo, Kenya, or any of the other communities throughout the world where Heifer is at work, the livestock that your gifts help provide become a catalyst for a family to achieve their dreams.

Take Helen for example.  She received oxen and a plow from Heifer supporters.  She told me, “This was to help me be independent and produce food crops like corn and vegetables.”  But as you might have already guessed, she didn’t stop there.

Instead, Helen began multiplying the gift’s impact many times over.

By applying the agricultural training received from Heifer, she was able to boost her farm’s per acre yield of corn from half a bag to eight bags – a 16-fold increase!

At first she used the extra income to buy food for her children and to pay for the medicine she needed to fight AIDS.  But eventually Helen expanded her farm to include bananas, sweet potatoes and maize, which she sold to generate additional family income.

“My plan was to save through the sale of these crops and purchase a sugar cane crushing machine which I could rent out, as the region grows a lot of sugar cane and I thought this activity would earn me good money,” she said.

I am pleased to report that Helen has indeed been able to buy that sugar cane press.  And recently, she has hired four young men to work on her farm processing the sugar cane. As you can see, this Heifer project is beginning to generate income within the community – a tell-tale sign of sustainable development that is really working.

Before Heifer’s help, Helen and her six children were living below the Kenyan poverty rate, which is less than one dollar a day.  Helen is now earning more than $400 a month.

She uses the money she’s now earning to educate her children… the six of her own AND the eight orphans she took into her home.

That’s right… Helen has turned the gift of just two oxen into a secure and promising future for 14 children!

And through Passing on the Gift, she’s making a difference in still more lives.

Helen quickly fulfilled her commitment to pass on the offspring of her oxen, and now she’s taking her passion for sharing to the next level.

Her knowledge is a new and powerful resource in her community.  She has become a mentor and teacher within her district.  She is now sought after and teaches Heifer’s cornerstones to family after family.

Amazing, isn’t it?  Once shunned by her community for having AIDS, she is now a leader.

Everywhere we went within that district, Helen was there.  Helen was well known.  And Helen was very respected.

You can tell she is proud of her success.

Helen embodies the Heifer strategy of development through empowerment – providing families with the means to fulfill their potential and affect meaningful and lasting change in their community.

These positive impacts of a donation to Heifer International are able to spread farther and faster than with most other organizations because Passing on the Gift actually turns gift recipients into gift givers… of animals… of knowledge… of encouragement… and of hope.

I saw this hopeful spirit throughout the villages in Kenya where Heifer Internation is working.

I’ve prepared a Field Report for you to review so that you can see how we’re putting your support into action.  Please find it enclosed.

Briefly, here are a few highlights from the projects I visited.

  • Some of Kenya’s highest poverty rates can be found among Maasai pastoralists.  That’s why one of our largest projects in Kenya is under way with Maasai communities.  Thanks to donors like you, we are delivering cattle, sheep and goats and providing training in their care.
  • We are working with a gropu of women who are all either visually or physically impaired as part of the Longisa Set Kobor Dairy Project.  Thanks to the heifers they received, many of the blind women can now afford basic family necessities for the first time in their lives and even send their children to school.
  • And at the Dago Dala Hera orphanage we met 78 children who have been orphaned by the AIDS crisis.  Thanks to donors like you, we were able to provide the orphanage with dairy heifers so the children would have a steady supply of milk to drink.

I met so many people who had been empowered by gits of livestock and training from Heifer International supporters.  And recipients like Helen always want me to make sure that I go back and tell their story.

First and foremost, our partner families want people to know that they’re so appreciative.  For example, Helen told me, “I want to express my gratitude to Heifer International for their intervention and all these benefits I have realized.”

But the recipient families also want donors to know that they understand that your gifts are investments – and they always seem eager to give a full accounting of that opportunity donors have given them.

Once you review the Field Report I’m enclosing I think you will agree that the combined impact Heifer supporters are having in Kenya is most impressive.  However, we sill have a long way to go and your continuing support will be important for our ultimate success.

That is why I encourage you to share the resources you’ve been blessed with by making a special gift in support of our 2010 Despair to Dreams Campaign.

The more resources we can raise, the more families like Helen’s we can help so please consider a contribution at the $500, $750, or even $1,000 level.

Since each gift to Heifer will continue to give and multiply for years to come, the impact of your generosity will truly be transformational.

So on behalf of people like Helen in Kenya and in countries all over the world, thank you for supporting our mission to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth so generously.

With Peace and Hope,

Charles O. Stewart

Interim Chief Executive Officer

P.S.  When kids are suffering from malnutrition, the vitamins, minerals and protein from just one glass of milk or one egg a day can literally make a lifesaving difference.

That’s why even a modest gift to Heifer International can go such a long way – and why everybody can have such a big impact.  Please make a difference in someone’s life by donating to Heifer again today.


2 Responses to “10.Eleven.20Ten”

  1. Diane Jokerst Says:

    This is indeed an amazing story. I am very proud of both of you. Our families are blessed and so is the recipient of your wonderful gift. How lucky we are !

  2. We are one of the blessed beneficiaries of Heifer Project International. Through HPI, we have a lot to share at Dago Dala Hera Orphanage. We were also lucky to host the heifer team including Charles O. Stewart
    Interim Chief Executive Officer. There is still alot to be achieved and we hope your support for programs and projects around the world will be blessed. Hope to one day find time and talk to you guys. I’m currently based in Indiana and we still spreading the good work our people get through all of you. Another event we run coupled with support of orphans is Kick it with Kenya (www.kickitwithkenya.org). It has seen a wider reach in health and sports for my people and would love to share a couple of articles with you:

    Hope to share with you. Be blessed and congratulations on your wedding.

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