What are the 12 Cornerstones?
Thank you for contacting Heifer International regarding our 12 Cornerstones. We are always glad to have supporters who want a deeper understanding of how we work.
Heifer International has 12 essential principles that guide our work in the field with our project partners. These principles are shared with groups as they develop their project plans. Many groups choose to incorporate them as their own principles or modify them to make them even more personal. These principles, called Heifer International's Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, or more simply "the Cornerstones," form the acronym "PASSING (on the) GIFTS."
Passing on the Gift®
Passing on the Gift embodies Heifer International's philosophy of practical sharing and caring. Every family who receives an animal agrees to pass on the first-born female offspring - or an equivalent - to another family in need, and also agrees to pass on to others the training and skills they acquired. Many groups also choose to "pass back" an additional animal, or else a portion of sales income, to support their project.
Groups define their own needs, set goals and plan appropriate strategies to achieve them. Heifer International provides guidelines for planning the project (including the pass-on process), screening recipients, monitoring farmers' progress and conducting self-evaluations. Groups are responsible for submitting semi-annual monitoring reports to Heifer International.
Sharing and Caring
Heifer International believes that global problems can be solved if all people are committed to sharing what they have and caring about others. Though not easily measurable, this is one of our most important Cornerstones. Sharing and caring also reflect our commitment to humane treatment of the animals in Heifer International projects and our shared vision of justice for all people.
Sustainability and Self-Reliance
Because Heifer funds projects for a limited time, project groups must plan to support themselves eventually. Heifer has found that self-reliance is most easily achieved when a group has varied activities and generates support from several sources.
Improved Animal Management
Feed, water, shelter, reproductive efficiency and healthcare are the essential ingredients in successful livestock management. These must be available so that the livestock provided by Heifer International can be kept healthy and productive. The animals should be a vital part of the farm activities without causing an extra burden on family members or the farm resources in general. The species and breed chosen must be appropriate for the area.
Nutrition and Income
Livestock contribute to human nutrition and well-being in two ways. Directly, they provide high quality protein and fiber and, indirectly, draft power for crops and transportation as well as manure for soil fertility and/or fuel. The livestock should have potential for profitability to provide income for education, health care, housing and all emergencies. As living savings accounts, livestock provide long-term economic security.
Gender and Family Focus
Gender refers to the socially defined roles of men and women in each culture. Heifer International's gender equity program encourages women and men to share in decision-making, ownership of the Heifer animals, labor and the benefits of projects. Priority for funding is given to projects in which the whole family participates. On-farm employment strengthens rural families and communities by decreasing the need for migration to urban areas in search of employment.
Genuine Need and Justice
Heifer International is a partner to people who truly need an opportunity to improve the quality of their lives, and who can benefit from modest support. Group members develop their own criteria to determine who will receive animals and related inputs. The poorest in the community should be included in the group membership and receive priority for assistance. Families are eligible regardless of creed or ethnic heritage. Priority is given to groups that have traditionally been neglected.
Improving the Environment
The introduction of Heifer International livestock should improve the environment by having a positive impact on one or more of the following: soil erosion, soil fertility, sanitation, forestation, biodiversity, pollution, and wildlife/ watershed conditions. In addition, the livestock should not cause or worsen any environmental problems.
Heifer International works with community-based groups or intermediary organizations representing community-based groups. A truly effective group has strong leadership and organization and is committed to involving all members in decision-making. Members of the group "own" the project, and the groups have control over all key decisions.
Training and Education
Groups decide their own training needs, and local people are involved as trainers. Training includes formal sessions as well as informal (farm visits, demonstration, model or promoter farmers) and is hands-on more than academic. In addition to training in livestock husbandry and care of the environment, groups have requested training in diverse topics such as food processing, marketing, group formation and human nutrition.
Spirituality is common to all people and groups, regardless of their religion or beliefs. Spirituality is expressed in values, beliefs about the value and meaning of life, a sense of connectedness to the Earth, and a shared vision of the future. It often creates a strong bond among group members and gives them faith, hope and a sense of responsibility to work together for a better future.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us or you can browse our website at www.heifer.org. Because you care and with your support, together, we have power over poverty and hunger!