When I was eight years old I was thrust into a new life. My father, for economic and lifestyle reasons, decided to move his family from the big city onto a livestock farm in Southern Ontario.
As a child on the farm, my responsibilities were to milk the cows and pour the milk into a separator to gather the rich cream from the jersey cows we raised. Their milk was very high in fat and as a result made excellent butter and ice cream.
I recall two local farmers that took my father under their wings to help him become a better farmer. They would stop by the farm every few weeks to say hello and share their vast knowledge. They were always so impressed with the work I was doing as a child and a teenager.
They advised dad about best practices for caring for his cows. They sold calves to him to increase his herd, and connected him with other farmers.
This reminds me of a story I read recently, about a young girl called Rosemary, and her family in Zambia.
Her family used to struggle to make ends meet. But when Rosemary’s grandparents, Danford and Patricia, received five goats in 2011 from the World Vision Gift Catalogue, it was through a “get a goat, give a goat” program called Pass On.
Through this program, families receive goats with the expectation that once their flock is thriving, they will give the same amount of goats they received to another family in need.
Animals provided through the Gift Catalogue are acquired locally and distributed to families along with feed, training and other support.
These goats have resulted in big changes. Rosemary’s grandparents continue to improve their crop yields thanks to the goats, which they can sell to buy improved seeds, pay people to help them in the field, and having access to the farm tools they need to expand their fields.
They have moved from a family who never could have considered helping anyone else because of their struggles to a family who generously helps others in the community.
In 2015, they passed some goats onto another family in need in their community, so the gift keeps giving.
Like my own dad, Danford’s life improved thanks to the love and support of his community members.
This giving season, you can “pass on” the love in your own way. Visit World Vision’s Gift Catalogue to see how you can support a child, a family, and a whole community with a simple gift.
Cheryl Hotchkiss is the Senior Director of Public Engagement at World Vision Canada.