Half. A Million. Dollars, y’all.

You are all amazing people and we love you so much! Your donations have passed our original goal of $500,000 – that’s half a million – and triggered the next phase of Heifer International‘s program: gettin’ some goats! Or, in today’s story, a heifer!

At this point, participants in Heifer’s program have learned not just how to plan for the future, but that it’s okay to dream big and hope for the best. They’ve received a solid foundation of training in everything from how to get the most out of farmland, how to take care of livestock (including basic veterinary skills), and even how to think a little outside what society has told them all their lives–they are capable, productive members of a community. They got this.

They’ve proven to themselves that they have the skills by building and improving livestock pens, preparing farm land, and generally getting ready for the gifts that will allow them the hand up they needed: Seeds. Goats. Chicks. Even a business loan if this is what it takes. And now that we’ve raised $500,000, Heifer can supply all the gifts needed for literally thousands of families, like Renuka Begum‘s. Renuka was the woman who was invited to start a local self-help group in her community.

Renuka received a heifer as a gift from the project worth BDT 20,000, or $250 USD, and started rearing the heifer, implementing the lessons learned from the project training. She also started kitchen gardening. The kitchen garden is something we got to see firsthand when we visited Heifer programs in Malawi–it’s not a for-profit farm, it’s a garden behind the house where vegetables are grown or small animals are raised, all to help nourish the family. In Renuka’s case, she started rearing back yard poultry and ducks.

Renuka Begum in her field.

Renuka Begum in her field. Not her kitchen garden, but bigger! Photo by Heifer International.

With no access to safe water, she got a tube-well from the Heifer project as a gift. And (spoilers) the following year, the heifer gave birth to a male calf; then, birthed a female calf the next. After two years, she passed on a cow worth BDT 20,000, or $250 USD, to a member of her self-help group. By the time the project officially ended, she owned four cows worth of BDT 1,05,000, or about $1,312 USD.

Now that we’ve hit $500,000, thousands of farmers like Renuka will receive gifts from Heifer that they can use to improve their lives and the lives of their families. But we’re not done yet. The thing we like about Heifer’s programs is their longevity and sustainability. The next step is to keep going, dream bigger, and make sure that not only are we helping people get on their feet, we’re keeping them successful enough so they can help their neighbors, their communities, and eventually spread the benefits of their hard work and good fortune to the next community over.

Everything gets better with practice, right? For our next donation update, we’ll tell you about how participants in Heifer’s programs can use their knowledge to get the most out of their new gifts by improving production. Thank you all for joining us!