Neurotic Fishbowl: A Heifer Success Story


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A Heifer Success Story

Bernadina Maria Salgado had always struggled to help feed her family, especially after Hurricane Mitch destroyed her tiny community on the banks of Nicaragua’s El Zopilote River, forcing everyone to relocate.

But then Heifer came along, and Bernadina learned more than she ever imagined - and uncovered skills she never knew she had.

"Before, I had no way to help provide for my family, but today, I am the breadwinner!" said this grandmother of two young boys.

Bernadina and her grandchildren are one of several families – mostly headed by women – who are participating in a new Heifer project in Nicaragua. With the help of Heifer’s field staff (and one busy rooster), these women are learning how to turn the hen they received from Heifer into a major source of income.

From Devastation to Deliverance

After Hurricane Mitch flooded their homes in 1998, the women banded together to seek help. A Dutch relief organization, the Friends from Holland, helped them purchase six acres of land and build new homes. The Catholic Sisters of Carmen Laura in nearby El Viejo, and a group from Norwich, England, provided each home with a well, a sink and a latrine. And the Agros Foundation helped the community buy more land for farming.

A nearby sugar mill provides seasonal work for the men, but earns them less than $2 a day. So Heifer International got involved, with the goal not only to feed these families, but to provide another – more consistent – way for them to make a living.

That’s where the chickens come in. Chickens are perfect income-producing animals. By the time they’re six months old, chickens can lay up to 200 eggs a year; and their manure makes a great organic fertilizer for vegetable gardens.

As with every Heifer project, training and supplies were provided before a single chicken was distributed. The women learned how to build portable hen houses using local resources and how to feed and care for their hens.

"As Women, We No Longer Feel Alone"

Rosa Carmen Medina is another participant who’s proud of the skills she’s learned.
"Life has changed for women in many ways because of this project," she said. "Before, I did not understand things. The men were the breadwinners and said everything. But now the women are a part of the community. We are happy and more active with much more confidence. This project is not just for the women but the whole family. We are working together to make a difference."

And Rosa Maria Diaz Lopez feels blessed that her children no longer get sick.

“Thanks to God they are healthy because of these chickens," she said. "With the income we receive from the sale of eggs we buy soap and salt and things for our family. Without the project, we would have none."

"We eat 50 percent of the production and the other 50 percent we sell for profit," added Rosa Medina. "Most importantly, we can help others in our community who are having difficulties."

The participants meet regularly with Heifer staff and other experts for additional poultry management training, along with marketing and leadership-building workshops.

They agree that coming together to share their knowledge and resources is one of the best things about their new lives.

"As women, we no longer feel alone," said Bernadina. "Now we help each other the best we can."

Please go sponsor me so that more of these wonderful success stories can happen!

The next download is from Zero 7, another one of those lush, chill-out bands that I love so much. Their debut album Simple Things doesn't have a bad track on it, but this instrumental one is one of my favorites (another one of their songs made it onto last winter's Burn It CD).

Zero 7 - Likufanele (Like it? Then buy the CD.)

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Now that was a good idea for a post! No sign of weakening so far!

.: Michael said on July 24, 2004 08:44 PM :: link it :.

I saw first hand what happened to Nicaragua during Hurricane Mitch... thank God for the Heifer Project, which enabled many Nicaraguans the opportunity to move beyond rebuilding to building toward their futures.

.: Zuly said on July 24, 2004 09:39 PM :: link it :.

You're too early! Come back at July 24, 2004 08:32 PM to see this post.

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