Magazine article E Magazine

The Heifer Project: Cows 'R Us

Magazine article E Magazine

The Heifer Project: Cows 'R Us

Article excerpt

In the small coastal city of Monte Christe in the Dominican Republic, mesquite trees, cacti, dusty roads and farms stretch as far as the eye can see.

The region's nickname--"We die of thirst"--rings with dry truth as residents line-up to buy high-priced drinking water from tanker trucks. Monte Christe is not only parched, it's poor. But, 10 years ago, hope arrived in the form of a wooden corral which houses 120 goats kept by Emeliana Altagracia Veras and other members of her village.

Veras began the herd with two goats she received from the Arkansas-based Heifer Project International (HPI). For 50 years, HPI has been donating cows, chickens, pigs, oxen, water buffalo, honeybees, llamas, frogs and rabbits to millions of rural people in over 100 countries. For Veras and her community, two goats made the difference between barely surviving and thriving. "I am proud to say that now I have milk and meat for my family. We can have five quarts a day, with enough left for the baby goats."

Veras has 15 mother goats, and gives the offspring to her family and neighbors. It's called "passing on the gift" and HPI always builds in this unique sharing mechanism that strengthens community bonds and encourages accountability.

In the past, most people in this region scraped out an existence by illegally cutting trees from the nearly barren countryside to sell as charcoal--encouraging erosion and degrading the soil. This forced more people to move to cities seeking work as local opportunities burned away.

And in this tough climate, goats proved to be the best choice for producing food and income without further harming the forest. …

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