ONE Campaign and Heifer launch #GiveaGoat for the holidays

It is that time of year again. The holidays are coming! And with the onset of the biggest consumer spending of the year comes the reminder that many people around the world are not so fortunate when it comes to lavishing themselves with gifts. That is why for the next several weeks I will be highlighting unique ways to purchase gifts that give back and help someone else in need.


On October 24th, ONE partnered with Heifer International to launch an amazing, exciting campaign just in time for the holidays: #GiveaGoat to end extreme poverty.

The ONE Campaign works to end extreme poverty particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa while Heifer International specializes in bringing sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty, and have programs throughout the world. Both non-profit organizations are fabulous and by working together will be able to create even a greater impact on fighting extreme poverty around the world.

I have worked a bit with ONE already as a ONE Mom and Community Partner yet this is my first time learning more about Heifer’s work. While ONE is primarily an advocacy group with over 3 million supporters, Heifer provides the framework on the ground by working with smallholder farmers to promote economic self-sustainability and good health. Like ONE, Heifer believes strongly in empowering people especially women and girls who are the majority of the small farmer holders throughout Africa.

What makes Heifer’s work so amazing is that they don’t simply stop by helping one family. Heifer utilizes a program called “Passing on the Gift” which assures that each participant in the program—the person who receives the initial gift of an animal—becomes a donor by giving the animal’s offspring to another family in need. This concept helps build community and participation in each project. The families continually give to others, ensuring greater self-sufficiency and human dignity, one family at a time.

Although Heifer provides a variety of livestock ranging from chicks, rabbits, pigs, and sheep to goats, llamas, water buffalos, and heifers, for this campaign Heifer and ONE are focusing exclusively on the value of providing a goat.

So why a goat? Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about the benefits of having a goat.

  • 1 goat can produce 1 ton of milk/ year. That’s enough to pull 1 family out of poverty
  • A gift of livestock has up to 9x the impact, as families pass on the gift to others.
  • One goat can produce 15 liters, or nearly 4 gallons, of milk a day!
  • Goats were first herded by humans 10,000 years ago in what’s now Iran. Man’s most helpful friend for 10 millennia

Why goats are awesome?


Let’s meet Stella, ONE and Heifer’s mascot. Stella is quite popular and even has her own Twitter and Pinterest Account!

How #GiveAGoat works:  Now through December 31, you can buy or give a goat for $120 or a share of a goat in various increments.

Each goat can provide up to 1 ton of milk a year, enough to provide 1 family with enough income for shelter, education, health care and more.

Get a goat here:

What you can also do to learn more:
  • Follow Stella the Goat who is the mascot for the campaign and will be guest curating content on ONE’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts:

Instagram: @onecampaign

Related Posts:

Give A Goat to a FAmily in Extreme Poverty via ONE

More about the Limited Edition ONE Goat

Read how goats have changed people’s lives in Africa: ONE will be reposting success stories from farmers who have received a Heifer goat. Check each week for a new story.

In the first 24 hours since the campaign was launched, more than 280 goats were sent to families in need in Africa. These goats can help pull families out of extreme poverty by giving them milk to sell at the markets, providing a much-needed source of income.

Gifts that Give Back Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD

SOCIAL GOOD SUNDAYS: Cows R Us with Heifer International

Today’s Social Good Sunday’s post is written by Betty Londergan, Global Blogging Ambassador of Heifer International. Betty is currently on a one-year trip visiting 12 countries in 12 months to document the impact of Heifer. You can read about her travels and work on her beautiful, inspiring blog Heifer 12 x 12.

Cows R Us

Rwandans love cows. They have songs about cows, they have dances, their whole culture is based on the love of the cow.

The beautiful umushagiriro (cow dance) — I guess those are their horns.

And Rwandans are infinitely patient and gentle with their cows — even when they are being kind of .. pushy.

This Heifer heifer walked right into the ceremony, butted the speaker, went for the drinks & nobody batted an eye.

Kirehe, Eastern Province

So it makes sense that the Rwandan government would partner with Heifer, an organization named after its favorite animal, to help 6,382 families in the poor rural district of Kirehe earn a living, improve their land, and feed themselves. It’s part of the government’s national initiative called A Cow for Every Poor Family — that remarkably (well, not really) is based on Heifer‘s beautiful training/giving/passing on model.

Why a cow? I asked Kirehe veterinarian Dr. Jean de Dieu Niyitanga that question and he had this succinct answer, “Cows mean milk and money.” Then he waxed poetic and scientific about what cows need to thrive. For someone like me who thinks a cat requires far too much attention, raising a cow sounds like an inconceivable amount of work. So I asked him to elaborate.

“First you have to love your cow, because if you love your animal, you’ll treat it well, feed it well, and keep it clean and healthy.” Okay, but what does that exactly mean?

The cows Heifer gives to poor farmers in Rwanda are pure breeds, either Jersey cows (brown) or Friesians (black & white). They produce a lot of milk (up to 30 liters a day) but they also demand a lot of food– about 1/10th of their weight in food a day in grass, cereals and legumes that the farmers must grow and harvest. Cows also need a salt lick to provide calcium, potassium and sodium to replace the minerals lost when they are producing milk.

Like any nursing mother, heifers drink a lot: 50-80 liters of water a day, depending on their weight, and that also has to be carried on somebody’s head back to the home.

Cows are big, gentle animals but they require shelter from the elements. So before getting a cow, every participant has to build a shed with 6 bags of cement (@$16/bag) provided by Heifer for a concrete floor to keep the cow’s feet out of dung, wet mud, and to facilitate manure-collection. They’re also given aluminum sheets for roofing – and required to pass on the same cement & aluminum when they pass on the gift of the cow to another poor farmer.

Veneranda Mukagakwandi & her cow & her cow sheds.

Alfred’s son digging the fields.

Then there’s the issue of keeping the cow clean: the shed needs to be shoveled out at least once a day, and the animal washed with soap and water twice a week (more water to carry). Cows must also be sprayed to protect against flies and ticks that can give them theileriosis, a tickborne disease that can kill them if left untreated. And the heifers are always watched closely for mastitis – or they can permanently lose use of a teat.

My brain was whirling with the possibilities for bovine disaster, but to Rwandans a cow simply means milk, money and manure. One cow will produce 3 tons of manure a year – and that is hugely important to the farmers planting their crops in the over-cultivated, poorly producing soil in Kirehe. Farmers report a 75-100% increase in ag productivity with the addition of cow dung– and that’s no small potatoes.

So, how has a cow specifically changed the life of somebody like Alfred Nsengimana? After Alfred had a home visit and was designated as able to raise a cow, (if you don’t have enough land or strength to take care of a cow, you’ll first be given goats or pigs), he built his shed and received the 182 hours of training that Heifer gives all participants – to make sure they know how to breed, lead, raise and take care of the animal.

After those six months of training, Alfred received a pregnant Friesian heifer, it gave birth to a female that he’s passed on to a neighbor, and now Alfred is earning $50/month from the cow’s milk – in a country where 60% of the population earns under $1/day. With that milk money (I love this entrepreneurial spirit so much!) he bought more goats and rabbits that are easier to raise and quicker to sell than cows, if the family needs money for school fees or health emergencies.

Then, Alfred dug a cistern in his back yard and he is also harvesting rainwater from the roof –so his family can make fewer trips to the town well to carry water back on their heads.

Water harvesting with a plastic-lined tank — how clever!

With milk to drink, meat to eat, and money in the bank, Alfred & his wife put a new cement floor & walls in their house—a real luxury. He would like to keep at least two cows, because then he’ll have enough manure to qualify for a bio-gas unit (half paid for by the government) that will mean they don’t have to collect and burn firewood and can cook in half the time.

Biogas – a giant leap for woman-kind: no collecting wood/cooks in half the time!

Alfred’s neighbor Jean de Dieu Habayarimana is 24 years old and an orphan responsible for raising his two younger brothers. He doesn’t have land to grow forage for a cow, so he received the gift of 2 pigs from Heiferlast December and proved himself so good at raising them, he was given the stud pig for the community – which means that he’ll get 1 piglet from every brood his pig sires.

If you’ve got no land for a cow, take the pig!

This Kirehe Project is a massive undertaking, requiring a daunting amount of work from Heifer (home-visiting every prospective family and giving 182 hours of training to each beneficiary), the government, and all the local organizations across five pilot zones in 12 sectors of the Eastern Province. But 1,000 heifers have been already given in 2011 (and 360 passed along), with 1,145 more to be given this year (plus 2,000 South African Boer goats and 562 purebred pigs). That means that families like Alfred’s will be given the chance to take this opportunity and leverage it to feed their families, earn a living, double their agricultural productivity, and climb out of poverty.

The real beneficiaries of Kirehe’s big project.

Makes me feel like hollering Oyee! Amata Iwau Kuruhimbi, which means something like Let us always have milk in our homes!

Yes indeedy.


About Betty:

Betty had a 30 year career as a creative director in advertising and then changed her focus to writing in philanthropy. She wrote two books, started a blog called “What Gives 365” on January 1, 2010 and gave away $100/day for 365 days to people, causes and organizations that she believed were making the world a better place. Her current adventure is volunteering as the Global Blogging Ambassador for Heifer International. In this role, Betty is dedicating a year of her time, writing and photography to visit 12 countries in 12 months in 2012 and write about Heifer’s work to end poverty and hunger
around the world. It is an amazing feat!

If you enjoyed reading Betty’s post on Cows R Us, here are a few more that you would love: