Last Christmas I decided to do something different. I gave my family two llamas. Well, not really, I gave two llamas in their name.
Heifer International is an organization that helps people help themselves. By donating llamas we were able to help a Bolivian family lift themselves out of poverty. Here is the letter we received from Heifer about our llamas.
For Matilde and Mario, the gift of a llama – which provides some of the finest wool in the world – has become a dependable source of income they can use for food, medicine and to send their daughter, Delia, to school. Thank you for recently helping us empower another family with the livestock and training it needs to become self-reliant.
Delia is a lucky little girl because she has a very bright future in front of her thanks to a Heifer International project her parents joined.
Before Heifer, Delia’s family seldom had enough to eat and could never depend on income from the crops because of year-round frosts and hailstorms in the mountains of Bolivia.
There was really only one solution: llamas.
Delia’s parents had wanted to raise llamas for such a long time, but they could never save up enough to buy any animals. But with the help of Heifer supporters, we were able to provide llamas and training in their care.
Llamas, and their cousins, the alpaca, are very often the only solution for many of the poorest families in South America. There just aren’t many animals that can thrive at 14,000 feet above sea level where Matilde, Mario and Delia live.
For instance, If we were to give cows to a family in the high Andes, not only could the altitude and cold be dangerous for the cow, the cattle would damage the fragile high alpine meadows beyond repair. That’s not sustainable. And therefore, it’s not the Heifer solution.
But llamas are native to Bolivia and well suited to this unique environment. Like sheep wool, llama wool can be sheared and made into products that families can sell for income. Selling their woolen goods means a steady income that Mario, Matilde, and other Heifer families can use for everything from school fees for their children to building fences to protect their crops and animals.
They are especially proud to be able to send Delia to school.
“My father only let me go to school up until the 2nd grade,” Matilde says. “I didn’t know how to read. I don’t want my children to be like me. I’m very happy for them to study.”
This year’s Blog Acton Day theme is the Power of We. Together we can all make a difference!
Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth and started 67 years ago when a group of people from Indiana, USA came together and donated livestock to communities in Spain who were going hungry after the devastation of the Spanish Civil War, showing they have the Power of We at their core.