Heifer International and Stormy Petrels Unite

Heifer InternationalLater this week, Oglethorpe University will be the first college campus to host the annual meeting of Heifer International, a nonprofit focused on “helping others help themselves.” The Heifer Sustainability Summit will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 12-13. It will showcase leaders in the field, and showcase Oglethorpe’s growing involvement in Heifer’s mission.

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.

Betty and children in a Heifer-assisted country

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.

Heifer 12x12

Betty Londergan's blog highlights Heifer's accomplishments around the world

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.

First-Year Seminar Class Has “Eyes on Africa”

Dr. Mario Chandler and Dr. Jay Lutz led a group of freshmen students to New York City for a seminar called Eyes on Africa. The group is pictured in front of the African Burial Ground National Monument.

In October of 2010, as part of their “Eyes on Africa” seminar, 14 first-year students flew to New York for a one-day excursion. Their learning trip included a visit to the African Burial Ground National Monument and tickets to Fela!, a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical based on the life of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.

“[Seeing Fela!] was my absolute favorite part of the trip,” recalls Briana Mongerson ’14.  “I absolutely loved it…I’ve been to New York in the past with my family, but we went more as tourists—this time, as a student, I learned about how diverse and rich the cultures are in Africa.”
The class also visited one of New York’s best kept secrets—the African Burial Ground National Monument.  Hailed by historians as one of the greatest archaeological finds of our time, the site serves as the final resting place for an estimated 15,000 freed and enslaved Africans dating back to the 17th century. Professor Chandler described the burial grounds as his most memorable part of the experience, and wanted to make sure his students saw the monument before heading back to Atlanta. Continue reading