Heifer International: Working To End World Hunger, One Llama At A Time

bolivian farmerGot an extra $20 burning a hole in your pocket and want to make a difference in the lives of others? Buy a flock of ducks. Eighty-five dollars will get you a camel share, while a mere $48 purchases a share in a “Knitter’s Gift Basket (a llama, alpaca, sheep and angora rabbit).”

Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock, and animal husbandry, agricultural and community development training to over 125 countries, including the U.S. The goal: to help end world hunger and poverty by improving breeding stock, providing valuable dietary supplements such as milk and eggs, and creating viable business enterprises for commodity products such as cheese, wool, honey, or crops cultivated by draft animals like horses and water buffalo.

The livestock species used to support disenfranchised communities are diverse, but traditional to their respective regions. They include goats, sheep, honeybees, beef and dairy cattle, water buffalo, yaks, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, camels, rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry.

When I was a kid growing up on a small ranch in Southern California, we used to donate our male dairy goat kids (which, if sold here, would most likely be relegated to dinner) to Heifer. Although the program no longer ships live animals overseas (it’s easier and safer/more humane to ship frozen semen), the concept remains the same: using top bloodlines to improve the quality and enhance the genetic diversity of herds or flocks in impoverished regions.

Heifer teaches the concept of the “Seven M’s: Milk, Manure, Meat, Material, Money, Motivation and Muscle.” These are the benefits livestock animals provide to people in developing nations. With the training provided by Heifer employees and volunteers, the cycle of poverty can be broken, and families and villages can thrive. During the holidays or for birthdays, I like to make animal gift donations in the name of the recipient, an especially valuable lesson for children (who, let’s face it, really don’t need another electronic piece of crap to foster their ADD and lack of global awareness).

Never doubt the power of a furry friend to change the world. To make a donation, click here.

Check out this Heifer International gallery of animals and their proud owners from around the world:

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Travelbloggers Fundraiser Passports with Purpose Enters Year Four

Disclaimer: I helped found this initiative and I’m hardly neutral on it. I’ll do my best to stick to the facts here but first, I’ll say this: It’s been awesome.

Passports with Purpose, the travelbloggers fundraiser, turns four this year. Founded in 2009 by four Seattle based bloggers, the initiative pulls together bloggers and travel providers (and their PR reps) to raise money for carefully vetted nonprofit causes that focus on education as a channel to alleviate poverty and improve quality of life. Oh, and there are fabulous prizes, too — for example, last year, Gadling’s Mike Barish gave away a SkyMall gift card.

This year, Passports with Purpose (PwP) is supporting Room to Read, the literacy program founded by John Wood after he’d trekked through Nepal. PwP aims to raise enough money to fund the contstruction, staffing, and provisioning of two libraries in Zambia.

In 2010, PwP raised more than $60,000 for Land for Tiller’s Freedom (LAFTI). The funds were used for construction of 25 homes for families in Southern India. PwP co-founder Beth Whitman attended the ground breaking ceremony for the village in Karrungani, Tamil Nadu. On the conclusion of last year’s fundraiser, PwP recieved this note from Peggy Burns, Exective Director of Friends of LAFTI:

We are so excited that 25 families in Karunganni will soon have a decent place to live. It is all thanks to you, your generous sponsors, and over 300 caring individuals who wanted to make this world a better place. Bravo to all of you.

In 2009, PwP raised nearly double the original goal of $13,000 and funded the construction of a school in rural Preah Vihear, Cambodia. The overage was allotted to additional services that ensure the continued success of the project. Michelle Duffy attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Passports School in March, 2011.


Passports with Purpose uses social media, blogging, and the generosity of sponsors to achieve success. Repeat sponsors for 2011 include Round the World with Us, Traveller’s Point, and HomeAway.

But it’s individual bloggers that are the key to PwP’s continued success. Bloggers who want to participate will find detailed information on the Passports with Purpose website.

Human-powered circumnavigator climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for Tanzanian school

human powered circumnavigationSeattle-based adventurer Erden Eruç has launched the next phase in his quest to circumnavigate the world under human power, for his charitable organization, Around-n-Over (AnO). The mission of the 501(c)(3) non-profit is to assist poor communities by providing basic educational aid, resources, and facilities as a means of guiding them into self-sufficiency.

Eruç will continue his Six Summits Expedition, to climb the highest summits on the six continents he reaches after approaching each by bicycle, on foot, and by rowing across three oceans. His goal in raising awareness about his journey is to instill in young people the values of selflessness, sacrifice, and perseverance in the tradition of historical adventurers and expeditions. In November, 2010, Eruç became the first person in history to have crossed three oceans (Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific) via rowing. He is also the most experienced ocean rower alive.

The next leg of AnO’s Six Summits Expedition takes Eruç to Tanzania, and the continent’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, to raise awareness for the Mateves Secondary School in Arusha. For this journey, AnO has collaborated with Mountain Madness, a Seattle adventure travel company who will provide guides and support for the climb. The goal is for AnO and participants to raise money to use toward the building of new classrooms and educational support. Mountain Madness will also donate a portion of the fees they receive from participants toward the school. To donate, click here.

Discovery Adventures travel company debuts 2011’s Discovery Channel-inspired trips

adventure travel companyArmchair traveler red alert! Discovery Adventures is offering eight new Discovery Channel-inspired cultural trips for 2011, including Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, Japan, and East Africa. Explore archaeological sites near Athens, visit wineries in Tuscany, safari in Kenya, or soak in hot springs in the Japanese Alps. Trips are limited to 16 people, and run from eight to 15 days. Accommodations range from boutique hotels and inns with local character to eco-lodges.

Discovery Adventures has teamed up with adventure travel industry leader Gap Adventures and non-profit Planeterra to offer travelers more opportunities to positively impact the lives of communities around the world. Each trip provides travelers with an opportunity to visit destinations (often traveling by traditional modes of transport such as rickshaw or elephant) and interact with local people in an ecologically-responsible manner. In addition to your guide, you’ll be accompanied by local historians, archaeologists, artisans, and naturalists. Time to get off that Barcalounger!

[Photo credit: Flickr user Arno & Louise Wildlife]