Yu Zhanjun, who lives in Community 3rd of Yanshang Village, Yangebai Town, Weichang County, used loans to purchase 6 cattle in 2009 in order to enrich his family. He often worked from dawn to night. When the pasture was lush in summer, he left the cattle on the mountains to eat grass early in the day. After the cattle were fed, he drove the cattle back at night. When the cattle were kept in his yard, he didn’t feed any grass for the cattle for the whole night. When the season came to winter or autumn, he followed the same procedure. The place where the cattle stayed at home was broken-down with wind blowing from four sides. At night, he just threw a bundle of dried corn stalks to cattle. The cattle didn’t gain weight and were sick sometimes. At last, in spite of his care, two cattle died. He sold the other four in autumn. He was busy and tired of raising the cattle for nearly two years, and he didn’t gain any money...in fact he lost more than 8000 yuan.In June, 2012, the Heifer Project came to the village. The villagers began to discuss raising cattle to earn money. Yu Zhanjun was happy as well as fearful of the news. He took several trainings, in which the technical personnel in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Bureau taught many things about cattle, from how to choose a good cow to which temperature cattle could adapt to, which food can make the cattle grow fast, and how to prevent disease. They hadn’t heard all these things before. After returning home, he read the manual of technical skills for raising cattle they had given him carefully and understood a truth: raising cattle also requires technology. The cattle should be of good varieties and be kept in warm places and fed carefully. Therefore, Yu Zhanjun made up his mind to try again. He applied for the Heifer Project SHG (self-help group), and added the heifer project funds to money he'd saved to buy four Simmental cattle. Under the sponsorship of the government, he also built a breathable warm shed. According to the captive raising method, whether vaccination or feed formulation, whether outdoor sports of cattle or pens clean, he did all these things by his heart. A few months later, the cattle in his home grew well, gaining about 1 kg every day. Yu Zhanjun became more confident in his affair. His wife was grinning from ear to ear. The moment she met people, she would say: the scientific method was really good. Just see our cattle. If not in accordance with the scientific method of raising cattle, our cattle will not be healthy like those. We can expect earning more money in the coming year.
Progress Toward Objectives
Objective 1: By the end of the project, 100 percent of project families will have significantly increased their income levels.
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.”