I went to Honduras this summer with fifteen new best friends. Some time ago, NEA was contacted by the Heifer International foundation. I laughed when I heard their name. I thought it sounded like the cow.
It is the cow.
Heifer’s been around since the Depression Era (the last one, not this one.) Their founder was in charge of a project to feed the hungry in post-war Europe. While distributing powdered milk to starving children, it occurred to him that after his church group completed its mission to feed the hungry, they would have left behind absolutely nothing that could sustain these communities.
He thought, “Instead of a cup of milk, we should have given them a cow.”
And Heifer was born. For decades they have developed projects in the poorest communities in Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia… wherever there is poverty and hungry people. They do good work. But a lot of people do good work in poverty, health and social justice.
NEA and our members care about all those things, but I wondered what Heifer could possibly mean to our work here in the states when we are facing a crisis of confidence in our public schools, what it means to teach and what it means to learn, the fiscal meltdown of school budgets, teachers and support staff being laid off and jeopardizing the very futures of our students – especially those in communities most challenged by poverty, unemployment and crime.