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Teaching the World to Fish

May 26, 2017

The work we do at Meeting Protocol Worldwide has afforded us the opportunity to travel to countries around the globe - from third world, impoverished countries to wealthy westernized communities. Irrelevant of their economic wealth, hunger remains prevalent in almost every country around the globe. 

At MPW, we don’t believe that ending poverty and hunger is an unattainable goal. We’ve previously discussed how we work to combat hunger on a local level with the North Texas Food Bank, but we’re also interested in programs that aim to sustain change on a longer-lasting scale. That’s part of what drew our CEO, Pat Bingham, to support Heifer International

The mission of Heifer International is “to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.” While that may sound like a lofty goal, incredible progress has been made in the 70 years since they started. The philosophy of the foundation is built around the proverb, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” By providing livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training, Heifer International aims to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. 

Which brings us to the name: Heifer International. It stems from the fact that many of their efforts revolve around the idea of providing just that, a heifer, to an impoverished community. But it doesn’t stop there – In fact, it doesn’t even start there. Heifer International knows that just providing a cow isn’t enough. Before donating an animal, they spend time with the community learning about their specific needs and resources, however limited they may be. Then they arrive at the best way to help; for example, instead of donating a cow, a goat or water buffalo may make more sense (an entire Ark of animals is available for donation). 

They also educate and empower entire communities to become engaged in creating sustainable agriculture, and eventually commerce, in their areas. The extra income these communities create not only aids families, but can be used to develop schools, create cooperatives and even fund small businesses. This concept is at the center of the Heifer International model, referred to as Passing on the Gift. They encourage the families to share the training they receive with the rest of their community and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This enables the continuity of the program.  

Pat was fortunate to see all of this in action during a trip to Haiti a few years after the devastating earthquake of 2010. Haiti was in need of not just immediate assistance, but also long-term solutions. Pat visited local farms where she saw how Heifer International had donated goats and rabbits, rather than cows. She even got to witness a special occasion: the inaugural graduation ceremony of 20 new local veterinarian technicians who had just completed training provided by Heifer International. The knowledge they received allows them to aid the farmers in the health and care of their animals. 

Pat’s initial involvement with Heifer International had come over a decade earlier through her background in cattle ranching. She heard about the organization from a friend and when she looked into it further, she immediately admired not only their goals, but also their approach, ideas, and very successful results. 

Pat’s first donation started a tradition of contributing to Heifer International. When Pat decided to get MPW involved on a regular basis, she connected with Tina Reynolds, Associate Director of Philanthropy. Tina helped Pat learn about some of the different ongoing programs to help MPW focus its donations on a particular effort. Currently, MPW donates to the East Africa Dairy Project, an initiative initially funded under a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This project has helped develop farming hubs that are able to consistently provide quality dairy to serve these local communities.  These hubs are cooperatives owned by the farmers. 

Each year, MPW makes a corporate donation to Heifer International on behalf of their clients.

“We send over 1,000 holiday cards to those we work with throughout the year announcing the donation and letting them know about Heifer’s work. We always receive positive feedback and it’s incredibly rewarding to see such a great reception when educating people on this mission."  -- Pat Bingham

MPW encourages you to learn more about this fantastic and inspiring charity. We still have a long way to go in eradicating world hunger but with organizations like Heifer International, we like our odds.