A large group visited Heifer China’s Yan’gebo project in the Hebei province on May 3, including people from project funder Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly and Company, and Heifer International. Jeff Simmons, Elanco President; Rob Smith, Eli Lilly Foundation President; and Gail Neuwirth, Global Corporate Responsibility Consultant accompanied several people from Heifer International including Bob Bloom, Chief Financial Officer; Mahendra Lohani, Vice President, Asia/South Pacific; Tina Hall, Communications Director; and Marleen New, Director of Corporation and Foundation Relations, as well as Heifer China’s Country Director Chen Taiyong and Heifer China Beijing’s Regional Manager Song Jinpin.
Simmons, greeting participants at the animal placement ceremony, said, “Today is the beginning of all the great memories we will have for many years. All of the Elanco people are happy to be part of making your dreams come true.”
The visitors divided into three groups to visit the project families. They walked around their houses and visited with family members, learning about production and living conditions. One of the project family members asked the visitors, “What is the difference between my home and your home?” Gail Neuwirth answered, her eyes full of love and tears, “Maybe your house is different from my house. But we are the same people living in this great world community.”
The next day, the visitors went to a second Heifer China project in De’anzhuang, Chengde County. The villagers welcomed the guests joyfully with Yangge dancing, with Smith and Lohani joining in.
This project has a longer history and the project impact could be seen easily. The dramatic increase in annual incomes and the number of beef cattle sales proved that Heifer enables families to lift themselves out of poverty. The set-up of the village cooperative and its three-year business plan demonstrated that projects can inspire people to plan for their future through joint efforts like these.
Touched by the community’s confidence and enthusiasm, Lohani not only gave suggestion about the cooperative operation, he encouraged villagers to collect the plastic bottles strewn throughout their community and sell them for a small profit. He went even further by telling them to think big and educate the county about caring for the environment, and collect plastic bottles from the entire county for recycling. And then, to think even bigger again by sharing that vision and process with counties throughout China.
This two-day visit to Heifer projects exemplified to both Heifer staff and Elanco partners the effectiveness of Heifer founder Dan West’s concept, “Not a cup, but a cow.”
The CRLESP has been operating in the four districts—Masaiti, Mpongwe,Kalululshi and Luanshya— of the Copperbelt since October 2010, with the goal of enhancing livelihoods through integrated agricultural production; enterprise development; and promoting human health, water and sanitation.
Heifer International, the lead implementing organization, has partnered with the National Food and Nutrition Commission and Village Water Zambia as part of the strategy to achieve holistic sustainable community development.
The project has worked closely with government partners from the Ministry of Community Development and Mother and Child Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. These ministries have also been providing training and monitoring project activities. Review and planning meetings are held monthly at the community level to enhance the partnership and project ownership by participants.
To date the project has reached 2,937 families through various interventions: 140 through provision of livestock, 120 through vegetable production, 120 through human nutrition, 82 through agroforestry, and 2,495 through water and sanitation activities.
Women Empowerment and Income Generation Project (one of the 21 projects that make up the BCHD umbrella project) supported 135 original families and 70 families with buffaloes. The project participants have not only been increasing their income through the inputs provided by the project but have also initiated projects for the benefit of the whole community.
On one of the PSRP sessions it was noted that the limitation to increasing income from goats and buffaloes was that their village did not have a paved road to drive on. So in their own initiative and effort, the members of Gayeatri Pariwar Bachat Samuha have been able to build 2 km motor road by lobbying Rs.100,000 from Kamal Mai VDC and District Development Office.
The community members donated 2 weeks’ worth of labor for this project. Men of the community also gave their full support for this project. The road joins Kamalamai VDC with the capital of the district.