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Category: Heifer International

  1. Tuesday, November 29

    Week 514 Menu + Giving Tuesday!

    Happy Giving Tuesday! I am just loving that this day grows more and more each year! Before we get to this week’s menu (um, how is it Tuesday already? ACK!), I just wanted to share this with you…

    Giving Tuesday #GoatSquadGoals from @janemaynard

    Isn’t that goat cute? And the little hands holding him up are pretty cute, too! This goat is part of the Goat Squad and the kids and I will be taking pictures of him later today to share on social media to support Heifer International. Last year I traveled to Malawi to meet Heifer farmers and to witness the transformative effect Heifer has had, not only on individual lives but on families and entire villages. If you’re looking to join in on the #GoatSquadGoals Giving Tuesday fun, you can donate to Heifer here. I’ve seen first hand the good your money will do. In fact, it’s not just “good” it’s AMZING. If you want to specifically target your funds to go to the people of Malawi, click here.

    In the spirit of Giving Tuesday and Thanksgiving, I am feeling especially grateful that I get to  plan my family’s menu for the week, even though I am late! Sorry there is no fancy printable menu and shopping list this week. We’re lucky I’m getting anything planned at all!

    MONDAY:
    – Ate out at Corner Bakery Cafe (seriously, the free kid’s meals…our whole family ate for $15 and it was great food. I’m hooked!)

    TUESDAY:
    – I’m gonna be honest, we’re going to eat at Luna Grill…more free kid’s meals and I haven’t gotten to the store yet since our trip!

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
    – Fruit and carrots

    THURSDAY:
    – Caprese Paninis

    FRIDAY:
    – Breakfast for dinner: waffles and smoothies

    SATURDAY:
    – Thanksgiving dinner! We had an amazing feast with our family in Utah, but we are wishing we had leftovers of our own here at home! I am cooking different Thanksgiving foods all week so that it will be easy to pull together on Saturday.

    SUNDAY:
    – Leftovers!

    Your turn! Please share your menus for the week, even though we’re a few days later than normal!


  2. Thursday, May 19

    Snapshots from Malawi: Connectedness

    It’s been one year since I returned home from my trip to Malawi with ONE and Heifer International. One year since I dropped my kids off at school on my first full day back then fled to my car and wept. One year since I could not figure out how to process all that I had seen and learned. Over that year I have thought a lot about the experiences I had in Malawi and talked with many people about the trip. As I’ve grappled with a way to explain it all, I think I have finally found the word that encapsulates what our visit to Malawi was all about: connectedness.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    I did a quick Internet search on the word connectedness and found on Wikipedia that in mathematics “connectedness” is used to refer to properties meaning “all in one piece.” Bingo. That’s it. This entire world and all the people in it, all in one piece.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    I wrote many posts last year about the trip but never finished sharing everything that I wanted to. I probably never will share it all, but today, one year later, I want to offer a few highlights that represent connectedness.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when a woman named Josephine in a remote village in Malawi gave her phone number to me, embraced me like a family member, and shared the amazing work she does organizing village savings & loan groups that give people the opportunity to lift one another through pooling resources. Her work is transformative.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when the women in Josephine’s savings & loan group decorated the folding table set up for the meeting with a tablecloth and vase of flowers, as women do pretty much anywhere there is a group of them surrounding a table.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we visited a hospital in Monkey Bay and unexpectedly entered a pediatric room with two children inside, one a toddler, who was all smiles, and another older child whose body was visibly affected by malaria, even in sleep. The child’s father sat at the bedside with a look so worn and heartbroken I felt we had entered, uninvited, into a harrowing yet equally sacred space.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we saw first hand the impact that the Global Fund (where all of (RED)‘s funds go) and PEPFAR have had in saving lives. So many lives.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we took a boat ride on the Shire river through the Liwonde National Park, home to some 2,000 hippos and countless crocodiles, living in a pristine, untouched body of water. All I could think about on that boat was how desperately I want for the people of Malawi to experience development and prosperity, but that I hope we as humans can evolve and creatively find new ways to develop that won’t destroy these natural resources like we have done pretty much everywhere else.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we sat with a group of HIV-positive mothers holding their HIV-free babies, babies saved by CRT therapy that is stopping HIV transmission from mother to child. It is nothing short of miraculous. PEPFAR’s goal of working towards an AIDS-free generation is about to happen and it is a thing to behold.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when a farmer named Mr. Mtika showed us his family’s new kitchen, a separate structure from their home complete with a clay oven that burns wood more efficiently than an open fire. Mr. Mtika mentioned that their family uses one-third of the wood they used to, allowing them to reduce their carbon footprint. The Mtikas don’t even have electricity and Mr. Mtika is acutely aware of climate change and his impact on it. (I’ll just let that sink in for a moment…)

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we visited a small labor and delivery room in a medical clinic on the shores of Lake Malawi. They explained the clinic did not have the resources for c-section operations and emergent patients must travel 30-40 minutes over bumpy roads to get necessary surgery. Under those circumstances I would most certainly not have my youngest son in my life today. The sorrows that room had seen we could only begin to imagine.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we spotted a herd of elephants, with strikingly dark grey skin, walking through the forest.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when the man from whom we purchased hand-carved wooden jewelry and key chains on the beach of Lake Malawi emailed us weeks after the trip, to tell us that he and his family are doing well, how happy he was to have our support that day and that he hopes we will not forget him.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when, time and time again, we stepped off of the bus into a new community and were welcomed with smiles, songs, embraces and love. Genuine love.

    Connectedness. That what it is all about. That’s why all of this matters, why ONE and Heifer International took a group of writers halfway across the world to see the issues, the problems, the solutions, the impact of foreign assistance, so we can continue to spread the word, to reaffirm our connectedness, the very fact that we are all in one piece.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    As part of our trip we had the opportunity to meet with Oliver Pierson, Resident Country Director at Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Patrick Kadewa, Systems Operations and Power Trading Manager, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), as well as take a tour of the National Control Center for ESCOM. As a follow up to the trip I had the chance to interview the CEO of MCC, Dana Hyde. To refresh, MCC is an organization created by Congress in 2004 with strong bipartisan support to fight poverty by providing U.S. government foreign assistance in really smart and targeted ways. All countries that work with MCC are extensively vetted and each project takes 18-24 months to come to fruition. In addition, each country receives a scorecard, which you can (and should) check out here.

    Dana and I talked extensively about why Americans should care about foreign aid. Dana pointed out that foreign assistance is not only the right thing to do and reflects our country’s values, but it is also in America’s best self interest to provide it to poverty-stricken areas of the world. Dana outlined three ways that U.S. foreign assistance has an impact, all three things that MCC is very good at targeting:

    1. Economic: The untold story of our government’s assistance is that, when done right, it can help provide markets and opportunity for trading partners for American business. We live in a global economy and aid helps with the growth of other economies, which in turn fuels our own.
    2. National Security: Extreme poverty leads to instability, so investments in fighting extreme poverty reduces the need for investing in security. (Dana referenced comments by Defense Secretary Gates from early in this administration about this very issue – click here to read his thoughts on the matter, which are awesome and make so much sense.)
    3. Shared values and a moral perspective. This one is self explanatory – assistance is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

    So, I’ve shared my stories and experiences. Dana has explained why foreign assistance is good for everyone. Now what?

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Believe it or not you and I can have an impact. There is always the option of donating money to different causes and organizations like Heifer International and supporting programs like (RED). But your voice is also as powerful as your checkbook. Organizations like ONE and the US Global Leadership Coalition are constantly informing citizens about legislation and actions we as citizens can take to make sure our government continues to fund foreign assistance programs.

    For example, just today I received a text from ONE letting me know that the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252) is coming up for vote in the House. By responding to the text, ONE automatically connects me with my representative. That’s all it takes, a phone call to say you support the legislation! (Click here to find your representative!)

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Malawi will forever hold a unique place in my heart. I hope to return. My daughters write letters to Mr. and Mrs. Mtika’s daughters, who are the same age as they are. I hope these girls can stay connected and meet in person one day. But beyond Malawi, I hope that the fire I felt after that trip to tell the world how intimately and beautifully we are all connected never fades. (This is to say that if you ever ask about my trip to Malawi, get comfortable.)

    Malawi, you truly are the warm heart of Africa. Thank you for sharing your sorrows, your joys, your people, your love.

     

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  3. Friday, December 18

    Friday Show & Tell and Some Quick Gift Ideas!

    Happy Friday, everyone! I have a few quick gift ideas for you today and some food links (one of which I am especially proud of!)

    One Sugar Cookie Dough, Ten Christmas Cookies!

    For Cool Mom Eats this week I made 10 different flavors of cookies from ONE sugar cookie dough. It was nothing short of miraculous and it was surprisingly easy. Also, slice-and-bake cookies are my new favorite thing. Be sure to check out the article!

     

    Recipes Kids Should Know How to Cook Before Leaving Home: Grilled Cheese

    For Alpha Mom, Cate learned how to make grilled cheese and it was a great success!

     

    Here are a few fun gift ideas (just 1 week until Christmas!):

    Chelsea Harp Hand Drawn Prints

    • If you are looking for some really fun and unique clothes for girls, check out Zaza Couture. The Chagall line…oh man, SO CUTE. (Apparently I can’t stop saying “SO CUTE” today.)

    Zaza Couture

    le creuset butter crock from @janemaynard

    • Heifer International is always a great gifting option and one that does a world of good. As most of you probably know, I met many Heifer farmers in Malawi this year and the work that Heifer is doing is AMAZING. So, I have to plug them whenever I can, and the holidays is one of the best times for that plugging! Click here for their gift catalog.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    That’s all for today! As usual, please share your own stuff in the comments if you like, including gift ideas!


  4. Friday, October 9

    Friday Show and Tell + Happy News From Malawi (!!!) + How To Help South Carolina

    Happy Friday!

    Before I get to today’s show and tell links, I am so excited to give you an update on one of the farmers I met in Malawi last May when traveling with ONE and Heifer International. Rhoda invited us to her home on the last day of our visit. She was in the process of preparing a pen to receive a cow distributed by Heifer under the Malawian government’s FDIP program. When we met the delightful and beautiful Rhoda, her pen was in the middle of being built. Here is a picture of Rhoda back in May, getting ready to receive her livestock.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    We learned this week from our friend Mwai, a Heifer employee in Malawi who traveled with us, that Rhoda along with 43 other families in the southern district of Thoylo received their animals! Rhoda’s cow is from South Africa and she has named it Favor. Rhoda said that she feels it is by God’s favor that she received this animal from Heifer International. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one to tear up upon reading the great news. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see her with her long-awaited cow!

    Heifer International Malawian Farmer Rhoda receiving her cow! By @janemaynard

    Heifer International Malawian Farmer Rhoda receiving her cow! By @janemaynard

    Today I have two recipes to share with you that I created for Babble. I am really happy with how they both came out!

    Tandoori Tacos by @janemaynard

    • Tandoori Tacos: I couldn’t help myself, Indian Burritos were too fun…so now, Tandoori Tacos! They taste awesome and they are beautiful, too.

    Brown Butter Gnocchi with Butternut Squash by @janemaynard

    Before we go, if you are looking ways to send help and support to the people of South Carolina as they deal with disastrous flooding, my friend Shani Gilchrist, a writer from South Carolina, shared the following links. In addition to donations, let’s send lots of love/happy vibes/prayers their way!

    As you all know, Show and Tell is for everyone, so please feel free to share links to your own discoveries/finds/recipes/blog posts/anything! 


  5. Friday, September 18

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday, everyone! I am spending today primping for tonight’s Heifer fundraiser in Beverly Hills. And frantically cleaning up the house for the babysitter. And primping some more. I could never live in Hollywood, it’s too much work to clean myself up for fancy parties! I made the mistake of looking at Google images of past years’ events, which just made me more nervous about all the primping. And everyone needs to send lots of happy-high-heel-vibes my way so I don’t fall off my shoes tonight. This is super important stuff I’m stressing about here.

    kids can cook it! quiche in a mug from @janemaynard

    I have one quick food link to share this week! Anna and I made Quiche in a Mug. This was a super kid-friendly recipe, where Anna pretty much made it all by herself! It was really fun and very tasty! Click here: Kid-Made Recipe: Microwave Quiche in a Mug

    As usual, please share whatever you like in the comments! New finds, recipe links, your own blog posts, whatever! And have a fantastic weekend!


  6. Friday, August 28

    Friday Show and Tell

    Hello, my friends! It’s Friday! I’ve basically been stockpiling links to share with you all week, so get ready!

    the problem we all live with

    First I wanted to share a This American Life story with you that I thought was very powerful and thought provoking. Be sure to listen to The Problem We All Live With. There are two parts to the story. Click here for Part One. Click here for Part Two. The reporting is about integration in public schools and, well, it’s just really well done. Plus, it made me cry a couple times. So, if you’re easily moved to tears, listen with a box of Kleenex.

    Snapshots from Malawi - Village Savings and Loan GroupA group of powerful women we met in Malawi who are members of a Village Savings and Loan

    Remember how I went to Malawi with ONE and Heifer International? You must since I talk about it pretty much every other breath. This week I read two articles that were fascinating and tied right in with my trip, so I wanted to share them with you.

    • From Fast Company: In Africa, Chinese Developers are Building a Mini China. One of the most surprising and striking takeaways from my trip to Malawi was the Chinese presence in that country. I haven’t written about it yet because, honestly, it’s a huge topic and I don’t know where to begin. I am currently reading a book about the phenomenon, and trying to figure out the best way to write about the issue. Until then, this Fast Company article gives you a little taste for what’s happening in Africa with the Chinese. I think the lens through which the issue is viewed in this Fast Company article is a little more rose-colored than what we learned while in Malawi, but the article does give a good introduction to the types of things happening on the African continent. I do plan to write about it myself at some point, if I can ever wrap my brain around it all, that is.
    • From Melinda Gates for Marie Claire: Melinda Gates Reports from Malawi, Where Feminism is Making Surprising Strides. This article is awesome and uplifting and does reflect our experience in Malawi well. The women in Malawi are so impressive. I have yet to write about the Village Savings and Loan groups we learned about (post to come, promise!), but it was a beautiful example of women making great strides in Malawi. Interestingly, when Ellen McGirt from our group asked Mr. Mtika, one of the Heifer farmers we visited, what the hardest Heifer intervention was to implement, he immediately responded with “family and gender roles.” We admired his humility in that response, especially since you could see that he and his wife have a wonderful partnership. ANYWAY, this was a great article. Plus, Melinda Gates is awesome. The end.

    Would you like me to share some food with you? Because I can do that, too. Here we go!

    With that, I do believe I’ve given you enough reading, listening and cooking material to last you not only through the weekend but probably through the whole week!

    Please let us know what you’ve been up to in the comments! Share links that you found interesting/funny/informative/whatever, share your own blog posts, or just share something fun that happened to you this week. It’s all fair game for Show and Tell!

     


  7. Thursday, June 25

    Snapshots from Malawi: Why I Love Heifer International

    Over the last six weeks as I have talked non-stop to anyone who will listen about my trip to Malawi (seriously, don’t ask me about the trip unless you have some time on your hands), I am discovering that not many people have heard of Heifer International. One of my biggest takeaways from the Malawi trip was that HEIFER IS AMAZING, so I wanted to take a moment today to share what exactly it is they do!

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    Years ago at Christmastime our aunt gave us a gift from Heifer, which meant a donation was made in our name to a family in need. It was the first time I had ever received a gift of this type, so the name “Heifer” has stayed with me. It hasn’t been until fairly recently, however, that I’ve really began to have a lot of experience with Heifer International. The more I get involved the more impressed I am with this non-profit organization.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    In a nutshell, Heifer International places livestock with families in over 30 countries (including the U.S.) and has been doing so for over 70 years. Heifer’s goal is to end hunger and poverty through the “teach a man to fish” philosophy, and it works. The core of their model is “Passing on the Gift.” Families who receive a gift from Heifer are expected to pass it on, both by sharing their training as well as giving away the first female offspring from the livestock they receive. This not only extends the original gift but gives families the opportunity to invest in their own communities in a meaningful and sustainable way. And, as I discovered in Malawi, many of these families pass on livestock to others in their community more than just once!

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferI know I’ve already shared Luiza with you, but here are a few more pictures to give you further insight into her life

    Economic independence is the key to meaningful development and reducing extreme poverty, but it is one of the hardest things to accomplish. Heifer has found ways to do just that and we saw firsthand on our trip to Malawi how communities are being transformed in sustainable and long-term ways.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferLeft: Josephine, who has started more than 15 savings and loan groups, thanks to training from Heifer; Right: Petronella Halwiindi, Country Director for Heifer Malawi, who is one of my favorite people EVER

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferThe chief of Gomani village (in the brightly colored shirt) addresses our delegation, explaining the impact of Heifer’s work on the village at large. I kid you not, “We Are the World” was playing on a radio in the background while he spoke. Coincidence? I think not. This is the same village where people were singing and dancing the WHOLE TIME we were there, at least an hour. Gomani wins the Most Village Spirit superlative!

    One of the biggest reasons I think Heifer is so successful is because they work within the communities they serve. Heifer employees on the ground are locals, so they understand the culture and politics of the communities where they are working. For example, in Malawi the Heifer team works with tribal chiefs to identify families that would be the best recipients of livestock. Families that are chosen are vetted thoroughly and often go on to become lead farmers in their villages, like Mr. Mtika, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferHeifer lead farmer Mr. Mtika

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferMrs. Mtika and daughter Dorothy bid our group farewell. (Take note of Mrs. Mtika’s skirt.)

    I also love that Heifer isn’t just about giving away cows and goats and calling it a day. Heifer employs many different “interventions” in the countries where they work, including disaster risk reduction, low carbon technology, village savings & loan groups, agroforestry, irrigation, livestock (which I already described), seed systems, conservation & agriculture, post harvest management, gender & family, and more. As Heifer works within communities, they identify the best interventions for each situation. For example, in Malawi they have assisted in creating milk bulking co-ops where farmers can sell their milk. We visited two of these co-ops, which were impressive facilities that were led and run by Malawians.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferPhotos of milk bulking co-op in Mchinji district. (Check out the skirt!)

    On the last day in Malawi we visited three farmer families in the Thoylo district. The first farmer had been working with Heifer for 6 months, the second was in the process of building a pen for livestock she would soon be receiving from Heifer, and the third farmer had not yet begun working with Heifer. I keep using the word amazing, but it was amazing to see the transformation these families go through when working with Heifer. The differences in quality of life between the first and third families was striking and it made me excited for the woman who would soon be working with Heifer and needed the help so desperately.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferJanuary, began working with Heifer 6 months ago to gain additional support for the cow she received through FDIP, a government project

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferRhoda, who is currently preparing her pen to receive a dairy cow distributed by Heifer International under the MDIP project 

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferGertrude, a widowed mother of six who lost half of her home to catastrophic rains earlier this year; her cow produces significantly less milk than the cows owned by Heifer farmers; Gertrude will soon begin working with Heifer for additional training and support (Photo credit: Jeannine Harvey, ONE)

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferRomani, a Heifer farmer, and his wife; His initial gift of livestock was a “pass on”

    Lastly, the Malawians we met who have worked with Heifer International really love Heifer. A lot. You can see it in their faces, in their songs, in their embraces. You can see the personal connections the Heifer employees have with the villagers. Farmers at all our stops were wearing Heifer fabric, fabric they bought at cost from Heifer. You could tell that Heifer farmers were incredibly proud to be Heifer farmers.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferWe saw Heifer fabric everywhere we went!

    I could go on and on, but I’m going to resist the urge to write a book and just keep this to a really long blog post. 😉 I’ll end with this: If you’re ever looking for an organization to donate to, Heifer is an excellent choice. Donor money is used responsibly and effectively and it is truly changing people’s lives.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferLucia, one of Mr. Mtika’s neighbors and recipient of a “pass on” gift

    Plus, it’s fun to go “shopping” with Heifer! My kids gave Nate and their grandpas animals for Father’s Day this year. The dads had a choice between flocks of chicks, ducks, geese or honeybees. We ended up gifting chicks and ducks and the kids loved it! There are many ways to support Heifer – click here to see more!

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferThe Mtika’s goat pen…and goats!

    I am now a Heifer Lifer, just like the people I met in Malawi. If I wore headscarves, you’d better believe I’d have one made from Heifer fabric! I’ll just have to wear my Heifer t-shirt instead. Not quite as festive but still gets the message across!

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheiferGomani village (Photo credit: Allison Stephens, Heifer International)

    In case you were wondering, a “heifer” is a young, female cow that has not yet borne a calf. Now you’re smarter. You’re welcome.

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  8. Tuesday, May 26

    Snapshots from Malawi: Teach a Man and Woman to Farm and They’ll Eat Forever

    Over the last week, every time someone excitedly asks, “How was Africa?” I don’t know how to respond. There is no fast, small-talk response. “Amazing” pretty much covers it, but that word sounds trite and insincere. “Life changing” sounds clichéd, even though it’s completely true. On the other hand, “Malawi was wonderful and joyful and sad and informative and beautiful and heartbreaking and inspiring and frustrating and oh so much more” just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “amazing” or “life changing” does. As a writer and extrovert, I rarely find myself at a loss for words. But my thoughts and feelings about my trip to Malawi have rendered me speechless.

    snapshots from malawi: heifer goats by @janemaynardThe Mtika Family’s Goat Pen

    While I struggle for a good response in daily conversation, there are a few things I always find myself mentioning in these far-too-short conversations. One of those things is that organizations like Heifer International are doing truly transformative work and it’s because of the way they do it that the work is making such a difference. You know that phrase, “Give a man to fish and he’ll eat for a day; Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever”? THAT is what Heifer (and many others) are doing. And it works. I’ve seen firsthand that it works. People are eating every day because of what they have been taught.

    snapshots from malawi: the mtika family by @janemaynardThe Mtika Family

    Our first stop on the trip was at the home of the Mtika family. They live in a small village in the northern part of Malawi and have been working with Heifer for 4 years. Mr. Mtika is a lead farmer, meaning he helps train others in his community with the skills he has acquired through Heifer. I learned so much from Mr. and Mrs. Mtika, both about life in Malawi and about how Heifer works. The thing that stood out most to me, however, was their gratitude for being able to feed their children. When asked how Heifer has changed their lives, they responded that their children no longer go to bed hungry.

    snapshots from malawi: mtika family by @janemaynard

    snapshots from malawi: mr. mtika by @janemaynard

    Here’s the thing about Malawi. Poverty is everywhere. Poverty is the rule, not the exception, and the scale is mindboggling. We learned that for a diet to be considered nutritionally balanced, the goal is to get 6 foods into the daily diet. Malawians on average get only 4.3 foods. FOUR foods make up their ENTIRE diet. Even my most basic recipes have more than 4 ingredients. And, for that matter, the targeted 6 is still meager. These numbers were sobering to say the least.

    snapshots from malawi: cooking oven by @janemaynardThis is Rosie Bamoye, one of Mr. Mtika’s neighbors. She is fake cooking for the camera because she’s a good sport like that. These handmade ovens have improved the ability of these families to cook, including requiring 1/3 of the wood they used to need to cook. Rosie told us that she is herself transitioning from poverty to prosperity because of her goats that were passed on to her by Mr. Mtika. She has since passed goats on to others.

    As a food writer I was excited to try Malawian food. I learned quickly on our arrival that there really isn’t much traditional Malawian food to try. When people would find out I was a food writer they would excitedly ask, “Have you had nsima?” Nsima is a porridge-like food made with corn and water. That’s it. Corn. Water. For the duration of the trip I made sure to eat nsima at every meal where it was served.

    snapshots from malawi: cooking nsima by @janemaynardDorothy Mtika (11) making nsima in the family’s improved kitchen space.

    Gin and tonics are especially popular in Malawi. But even that seemingly fun fact was in reality a sobering discovery – tonic water contains quinine, an antimalarial ingredient. Bottom line: food and drink are quite simply about survival for most people in Malawi.

    snapshots from malawi by @janemaynard

    While visiting the Mtika’s village, a little girl in a grey dress was walking alongside me for quite some time. She had a bright smile that was never ending. I finally stopped to ask if she wanted her picture taken, which she did. Funny enough she would never smile for the camera like she did in person, but she still loved looking at herself on the small camera screen. After the photo she asked me something that I could not understand. I grabbed one of our drivers, who was able to translate.

    “Do you have a water bottle I can have?” was her question.

    I did in fact have one and readily handed it over. The driver was curious as to why this is what she asked for, so he asked her why she wanted it.

    “We use it so we can have lunch at school. We put maize in the bottle and add a little water. By lunchtime the maize is softened and that is what I eat.”

    Oh, this sweet girl. My heart just about burst.

    The driver and I asked her if she would take one more photo, this time holding her bottle. After much prodding we were able to get this one, joyful, smiley shot.

    snapshots from malawi by @janemaynard

    During our time in Malawi we did have delicious food, including fried chambo (a fish from Lake Malawi) and tons of Nali Peri-Peri sauce. I actually came home with 6 bottles of Nali because, apparently, I am crazy for African hot sauce.

    snapshots from malawi: fried chambo by @janemaynard

    snapshots from malawi: nali peri-peri sauce

    Needless to say all that I observed and learned about food in Malawi has been constantly on my mind. It has certainly made me even more grateful than I already was for what I have. And I can honestly say that making my daughters’ lunches each morning has transformed from a chore to an honor.

    And, when I start to feel emotionally overwhelmed thinking about food in Malawi, I think of the Mtikas and the many other farmers we met. Given the right resources and know-how they have been able to turn their lives around. These parents are now able to feed their families thanks to their own skills and abilities. It is a beautiful thing and is the key to having food “forever.”

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  9. Tuesday, May 19

    Snapshots from Malawi: You Came and Held Our Hands to Bring Us Where We Are

    I don’t even know where to begin in telling you about my trip to Malawi. The trip was educational and fun, inspiring and disheartening, energizing and exhausting – it was basically all of the emotions stuffed into one week and I’m still kind of reeling from it all. I am planning to do a series of posts called Snapshots from Malawi over the next several months because that is the only way I can even begin to do justice to the stories from the trip.

    snapshots of malawi: gomani village | by @janemayanrdThe village of Gomani

    One of the main focuses of our trip was visiting with farmers who work with Heifer International. Luiza Mzungu, a 47-year-old widow from the village of Gomani, was one of those farmers. I will share more of her story with you in a future post, but she shared a phrase that resonated with me on many levels and is, I believe, the perfect way to begin this series of blog posts.

    snapshots from malawi: farmer luiza mzungu | from @janemaynardLuiza Mzungu

    As Luiza was talking with us about her cows and her life she said, “You came and held our hands to bring us where we are.” At the conclusion of that sentence, Luiza and her neighbors began to cheer and yell with joy. 

    Luiza is right. Heifer did come to Malawi and held her hand, guiding her to greater economic independence and a better life for her family. But the hand holding is not a one-way action. The Malawians we met wholeheartedly welcomed our group to their villages and not only held our hands but grasped them firmly. These people held our hands, looked us in the eye and shared their sorrows and their joys, their challenges and their hopes. They held our hands and taught us things we could never have learned any other way. They held our hands and proved that the world is indeed small. They held our hands and brought us to where we are today.

    snapshots of malawi: welcome to gomani village | by @janemaynardThe Gomani Village Welcome Wagon. Much more interesting than a basket of blueberry muffins.

    Our first night in Malawi was near the capital of Lilongwe, on the outskirts of town. As I lie in bed that night, the quiet was striking. The silence gave me a chance to ponder and wonder about what was coming that week. As morning arrived, the sounds of birds and roosters began to fill the air and I was ready to go! Honestly, looking back on that night and morning, I had no idea what I was getting into or just how profound the week would be. Sure, in theory I knew it would be a “life-changing” trip. But I didn’t know I would hold so many hands. Those hands have led me to a new place and I look forward to grasping your hands to bring you on this journey, too.

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  10. Friday, May 15

    Friday Show and Tell: Farewell to Malawi

    Hello Friends! Today is my last day in Malawi and I’m about to head off to the farewell dinner. As I expected the week has flown by and I have seen so many beautiful parts of this country, met so many of its wonderful people and learned so many things about the challenges Malawi faces. You better believe I’ll be writing a whole bunch of posts in the coming weeks.

    a visit to lake malawi by @janemaynard

    The Internet has been very spotty all week, so I didn’t end up doing blog posts like I had planned. But I did keep Instagram updated, so if you haven’t been following over there, please be sure to check out the videos and photos I’ve been posting. They are among some of my favorite images ever.

    See you in the U.S. on Sunday! Have a wonderful weekend!

    Oh, and, OF COURSE feel free to share stuff for Show and Tell!