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  1. 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.


  2. 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!


  3. Friday, May 8

    Why I Am Going to Malawi

    why I am going to malawi

    When I started college, I chose International Relations as a major, with a focus on developing countries and women’s studies. I stuck with that major right up until graduation and wrote my undergrad thesis about the challenges of creating and enforcing international women’s rights laws. I was very passionate about the issues that I studied and had visions of, well, I’m not entirely sure what my visions were, but I know they involved helping people. From the time I was a child, I was acutely aware of how fortunate I was to be born in the time and place that I was. And I was also always very concerned about those who were less fortunate.

    Surprising myself more than anyone I got married in college (what?!) and we ended up moving to San Diego, where (as a liberal arts major who could write) I started working in the communications department for a wireless company. My work pretty much had nothing to do with what I studied, but I was still interested in those issues and have remained so all these years. And, honestly, my life evolved in a beautiful and wonderful way, through graphic design and blogging and motherhood, bringing me to where I am today

    Three years ago I met Jeannine Harvey from ONE at the Mom 2.0 Summit. We instantly connected on about 500 different levels and have stayed in touch and worked together ever since. Talking with Jeannine about ONE’s goals reinvigorated my interest and concern for the developing world. It has been rewarding to work with ONE over the years, using my platform to inform others about the issues facing our world and specifically developing regions like Africa.

    I can’t even tell you how excited and fortunate I feel to be able to join ONE and Heifer International on this journey to Malawi. For the first time I will visit the continent that I have spent countless hours studying and writing about. I will get the chance to meet and connect with the people of Malawi, a country known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” and see how foreign aid has and will continue to benefit their communities and families. And then I get to write about it, share what I learn with you, help spread the word to further garner support for programs that are helping people in meaningful ways.

    My dad asked me this week why I’m going to Malawi. “So, you’re going to change the world, huh?” he said. I laughed and said, “Of course!” Seriously, though, I am under no illusions that my visit is going to change the world. I am just one person, but I am one person who can tell other people what I see and learn, and together we can change the world. I really, truly believe we can.

    On my flight from San Diego to Washington, D.C. today I spent about 4 hours reading briefing materials for the trip. At one point while I was reading the information about Heifer International I was overwhelmed with emotion. I literally started crying, which I promptly tried to cover up so that the StitchFix stylist and her husband didn’t see the tears streaming down my face. Just when I thought I had it under control, the tears returned. While I was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer vastness and complexity of the problems at hand, that wasn’t what brought the tears to my eyes. I was crying because I felt overwhelmed at the goodness of humans. Organizations like Heifer as well as governments like that of the U.S. are doing truly transformative work to help others who are less fortunate, others who could not improve their world without help. People devote their lives to these causes and do make a difference. It’s inspiring and beautiful.

    I think it’s easy to sometimes feel like the problems are too big, so, why bother? But the fact is we are all connected in this world, more so than we ever have been before, and it is our duty as humans to help one another. I cried on the plane because, despite so much that is wrong with our world, the desire to help one another burns in enough hearts to be a powerful force. People are living up to their duty of helping others and it is changing the world. I feel honored to be just one small part of that change.

    In preparation for my trip I stopped at RoadRunner Sports to get some socks. (They have great socks.) The man helping me asked where I was going to be traveling and when I told him Africa, his hand flew to his chest and he was physically overcome with happiness. He said, “Oh! Africa! It is my heart!” I learned that he was from Liberia and he was, quite simply, joyful about my trip. It was amazing to me how one small interaction communicated so much.

    I look forward to more small interactions with all kinds of wonderful people over the next week. I look forward to connecting with individuals, hearing their stories, and then sharing them with you. And I look forward to bringing home Africa in my heart.

    I’m traveling to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We are visiting to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by US 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.


  4. Thursday, May 7

    Gluten-Free Coconut Lime Shortbread + Moms Make a World of Difference {Fair Trade Giveaway!}

    As you know, every few months or so I do a post with Fair Trade USA to help spread the word about the great work they do. This week we’re celebrating Mother’s Day together by sharing the story of a mother from Uganda, giving away a big ol’ bunch of awesome Fair Trade goodies and sharing a fair trade recipe!

    fairt trade gluten-free coconut lime shortbread from @janemaynard #fairmoms

    If you want to read more about what fair trade is, click here. Fair Trade USA says it all a whole lot better than I do. In a nutshell, buying fair trade products means you are supporting farmers in truly meaningful and sustainable ways in more than 70 countries. One of those farmers is Komuhendo Jacqueline, an inspirational tea farmer & me​mber of the Mpanga Growers Tea Factory in Uganda.

    Komuhendo Jacqueline, Fair Trade Tea Farmer from Uganda #fairmoms

    Komuhendo Jacqueline and her family have been growing tea since 2009. She says that the biggest benefit to selling Fair Trade Certified tea is that it has enabled her to pay for school fees for 3 of her children. It has also enabled her family to start sustainable food security projects for their home that can continue for years to come. She hopes to sell more of her tea so that she can send her other 4 children to school.

    Komuhendo Jacqueline, Fair Trade Tea Farmer from Uganda #fairmoms

    Fair Trade has helped Komuhendo Jacqueline and her community in so many ways, including building a nearby well that has provided much closer access to clean water, building a health clinic, providing shelter for workers during the work day, creating a women’s organization that helps empower women to be a more active part of generating income for their families in a region where traditionally men have taken sole ownership of tea farming, and MORE. It’s really amazing the long-term and meaningful ways fair trade has helped women and mothers in this community.

    Komuhendo Jacqueline, Fair Trade Tea Farmer from Uganda #fairmoms

    Learning about Komuhendo Jacqueline’s story has been especially poignant for me this week as I will be flying over her home in just a few days’ time! As I have mentioned, I am traveling to Malawi with ONE and Heifer International this week. Malawi is another country where farmers have benefited from Fair Trade efforts through the production of coffee, sugar and tea, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet the people of this country and talk to farmers.

    I could go on and on, but I think it’s time to give away some goodies and share a recipe with you!

    fair trade mother's day giveaway package from @janemaynard #fairmoms

    First, the giveaway. Fair Trade USA will send one lucky, randomly-selected commenter all of the following goodies!

    To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post! (Comments must be posted by Midnight, PT May 18, 2015. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address.)

    fairt trade gluten-free coconut lime shortbread from @janemaynard

    Recipe time! Today I have a recipe for Gluten-Free Coconut Lime Shortbread. In the interest of full disclosure, Nate and Cate did NOT like these cookies. My neighbor Kat, who does TONS of gluten-free baking and loves and cares about food very much, loved the cookies. I personally think the cookies have a wonderful flavor and I do like them. Just know this is a cookie that is meant to be nibbled…coconut flour absorbs fluid better than a sponge, and that still applies even when it’s in your mouth! Sit down with a nice cup of fair trade tea and slowly enjoy your delicious cookie!

    Gluten-Free Coconut Lime Shortbread
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    A very flavorful, gluten-free shortbread cookie. Eat in nibbles, no big bites!
    Author:
    Serves: 7 cookies
    Ingredients
    • 6 tablespoons fair trade coconut flour
    • 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened to room temp
    • 2 tablespoons fair trade unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 2 tablespoons fair trade agave nectar
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. Mix all ingredients very well using a fork or pastry blender. Make cookie balls out of ~2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Roll in your hand, set on a a parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet and gently press the cookie flat to about ¼" thick.
    3. Bake for 10 minutes.
    4. Let cool completely before moving off of the cookie sheet or they will crumble.