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.”
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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