The idea behind Heifer International is simple: rather than raising money and donating it to the needy, Heifer uses raised funds to buy and donate livestock (cows, chickens, sheep, etc.) to groups of people in need to help to increase their self-sustainability. Not only can they rely on the animals for renewable resources like wool, eggs or milk, but when the Heifer-gifted animal reproduces, the resulting livestock provides even more possibility for income. The self-sufficiency people gain from having their own source of income also helps to improve quality of life. Suddenly, a family can go from surviving to thriving; a village can go from impoverished to self-reliant. The independence that comes with a Heifer gift is often even more valuable than the gift itself. Heifer operates in more than 50 countries and has been a driving force against poverty worldwide since 1944.
The summit will focus on the needs of a world stricken by hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation, and Heifer’s current and future plans to help. Special guest speakers will include National Center for Civil and Human Rights CEO Doug Shipman, Heifer International President and CEO Pierre Ferrari, and Oglethorpe University’s own First Lady, Betty Londergan, the wife of Oglethorpe’s President Schall.
Heifer International has gained quite a following at Oglethorpe, due in part to Londergan’s involvement with the nonprofit. She is on a mission to showcase the benefits of Heifer’s work through Heifer 12×12, a blog project launched by Heifer International, which is taking Londergan to 12 countries in 12 months. Since January, she’s traveled to 11 Heifer-assisted countries, including Uganda, Haiti and Rwanda, and has shared her experiences through blogs and photography.
Thirty of Londergan’s photos will be on exhibit in Oglethorpe’s Lowry Hall in honor of National Photography month. The exhibit, titled “Unforgettable Faces,” will debut during the Summit’s opening dinner reception on Friday, October 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art and remain open through December 9, 2012. The photographs will be available for purchase to benefit Heifer International.
But, Londergan isn’t the only Stormy Petrel hoping to make a difference through Heifer. Sophomore Ruwa Romman and a small group of OU students were inspired by Londergan’s involvement with Heifer and decided to get active. They are starting the OU Heifer Club, the first on a college or university campus in the Southeast.
“Oglethorpe’s a good place to have a grassroots initiative [like Heifer],” said Romman. “They focus on self-sustainability, on passing on the gift… We hope to get a movement going. We can’t donate huge sums of money, but if we can donate $10 for chickens and help send someone’s kid to school, that’s still huge. It’s all about giving back.”
The OU Heifer Club will officially launch during the Heifer Sustainability Summit.