The Most Important Gift Catalog by Mike McManus
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Mon Nov 26 01:18:31 EST 2001
McManus - Ethics & Religion
THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT CATALOG
By Mike McManus
I just received ''The Most Important Gift Catalog In The World.''
That's a bold claim, but consider the chain of events the catalogue
suggests you can set in motion when you purchase a gift animal from
Heifer Project International (HPI):
You pay $120 to donate a sheep in honor of your mother who always loved
these gentle animals. Your mom receives a handsome gift card,
describing the generous contribution you've made in her name.
A desperately poor family in Afghanistan - where there are three
million hungry people - receives a pregnant sheep. Its wool can be
used to make snug blankets and clothes to warm the family. Sheep often
give birth to twins or triplets and can graze on the hilliest, rockiest
Each family gives its sheep's first female offspring to another needy
family. In fact, the first family does not have clear ownership of the
sheep until it ''Passes on the Gift.'' The second family also agrees,
when it become an HPI partner, to contribute its first female offspring
to another family in need.
Heifer International has been in China since 1984. By 1999, 1 million
families had been helped with a donated Heifer, rabbits, goats and
other domestic animals. Only two years later, in 2001, the Passing On
feature of HPI resulted in reaching 2 million families in China!
You could encourage your children to save $20 from raking leaves to buy
a flock of 10 chicks for a family in Cameroon or Afghanistan. The
protein in just one egg is a nutritious gift for a hungry child. And a
good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year, plenty to eat, share or sell.
Since chicks require little space and can thrive on readily available
scraps, families can make money from poultry at little cost.
Last year 109,000 families were helped by Heifer International which
began in 1944 when a farmer named Dan West was working as a relief
agent, sending reconstituted powdered milk to refugees. The thought
occurred to him, ''These people don't need milk, but a cow.''
At home he went to his church and said, ''I need cows to send to these
people.'' A farmer raised his hand and said, ''You can have Faith.''
Dan replied, somewhat irritatedly, ''I don't need faith; I need a
cow.'' The farmer said, ''Faith is my cow!'' Soon Hope and Charity
were also sent, pregnant Heifers, so that the family who received them
was twice blessed.
What began as the shipping of animals across the ocean has evolved into
the local purchase of an animal, and the training of receiving families
on how to care for their gift. There are now 45,000 project partners in
48 countries who oversee distributing 29 species of animals including
bees, snails, goats, cows and water buffalos to very needy families
often to a mother supporting a family alone.
For $60 you could donate a trio of rabbits. In November, 1985 four
families in China received 105 rabbits from HPI. Each family agreed to
pass on to a neighbor five rabbits for every female rabbit received.
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