Emmy Award winning actress Uzo Aduba just returned from a Heifer International visit in Uganda where she got an in-depth look at Heifer’s projects with farmers, who are working toward securing a living income as part of the organization’s goal to lift 4 million families out of poverty by 2020. During her trip, Aduba witnessed the impact of Heifer’s work when she met with farmers, participated in a Passing on the Gift® ceremony and helped process milk at a community-owned dairy center.
“The visit to Uganda and my meeting with farmers was emotional, thought-provoking and inspirational. The farmers I met are like all of us—they have families to care for, they have dreams of a better life and most important, they have the resolve to make change. The concept of ending global poverty isn’t new, and I’ve come to understand that there’s no easy solution. Using Heifer’s methods, farmers are able to be self sufficient and independent of aid, with their eyes toward making a living income so they are truly financially empowered,” Aduba said.
Native music and dancing
Upon entering the village of Nsange, Aduba was greeted with native music and dancing in celebration of Heifer’s most important traditions, a Passing on the Gift ceremony. As one of Heifer’s key cornerstones, families share the training they receive and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This act extends the impact of the original gift, allowing once impoverished families to become donors and full participants in improving their communities. Aduba led the exchange by handing off goats from four donor farmers to their new families and then officially ended the ceremony by taking part in a traditional dance.
“I experienced many special moments throughout my visit, but it was the Passing on the Gift ceremony that truly captured the uniqueness of Heifer International’s model. I’ve never seen anything as selfless. You are watching a person that is still close to their recent poverty, but who faithfully fulfills their promise, and in turn, gives that other person a future. It’s something I didn’t expect and won’t ever forget,” she said.
Struggling to survive
Aduba met with numerous farmers, particularly in the villages of Luweero and Mukono, where she saw Heifer’s model in action. She met farmers just beginning their work with Heifer and who are struggling to survive on limited resources. She also met farmers who’ve been working with Heifer for years and proudly showed their successes through stables of livestock, extensive fruit and vegetable gardens, their children’s education and biogas powered stoves.
In the village of Dwaniro early one morning, Aduba collected and processed fresh milk delivered by farmers. She helped with quality control tests and poured it into the chiller. This milk is sold daily, to a larger dairy processing plant in Uganda, enabling the farmers of this cooperative to increase their incomes and be active contributors to the developing dairy industry.
“Initially I thought that receiving animals was the most important transfer, but what Heifer really does is shine a light on the families’ own ever-present potential, and they provide the opportunity to harness that potential—that’s the true gift,” Aduba said.
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 about 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. – PRNewswire