NEW VIENNA — When Mrs. Rita Murphy’s class of 20 fourth-graders heard a story about a Sudanese person who died of starvation, she said the children “kind of melted” and a staffer suggested Heifer International as a way for the kids to do something about hunger in Africa.
The 75-year-old nonprofit Heifer International organization works to end world hunger and poverty. The founder, Dan West, was a Midwestern farmer and Church of the Brethren member who participated in volunteer service in the Spanish Civil War where his work was to provide weary refugees with a cup of milk.
West began sketching out a simple plan to help the hungry, states the nonprofit’s website. His “not a cup, but a cow” thought was the driving force behind West founding Heifer International, as he envisioned the potential of a steady supply of nutrition from a cow’s or goat’s milk for those in need.
The New Vienna Elementary class started with a goal of $1,000 but now has a new goal of $3,000 because they have raised more than $2,000 already. There have been several large donations from community groups, said Murphy.
“Students have learned a little bit about the wider world,” the teacher added.
In connection with the class’ service project, Eric Smith with Heifer International visited the students this week and spoke about his experiences growing up in Africa where his parents were teachers. He mentioned how his African friends did not grow as tall as they might have because their diets had less protein and lacked certain vitamins.
The gift of a goat or cow — which of course can have offspring — provides people in need with an opportunity for a different life style, Smith said.
The children were interested in hearing about Smith’s boyhood in Africa, and asked questions about his favorite foods and liked pronouncing words from the language he grew up with.
He read a short illustrated children’s book “Beatrice’s Goat” which tells a true story of how a goat made a difference in the life of a girl named Beatrice and her family.
Safe and Drug-Free School Counselor Cheryl Roberts is the local educator who recommended Heifer International. She has an intern assisting her this term, Wilmington College senior Bailey Jenkins from Washington Court House. Jenkins is studying social work and helped coordinate the class’ fundraising drive involving letters and posters, and jars in businesses.
The not-for-profit’s website states that giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing their incomes and access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.