On a piece of Aboriginal art stationery, I made a list of “life goals.” I didn't date it, but Motherhood was the first item on the list, so I'm guessing it's at least ten years old. Number three on the list is: Donate a cow to Heifer International as frequently as possible. In these ten plus years, I have not donated a single cow or even a portion of a cow, so placing this goal on the 4040 list ensured that I would finally do it.
As the months passed and my life and finances changed dramatically I wondered how I was going to swing a $500 donation. I had the money in savings, but I questioned whether that was the right move at this time. And then a little miracle in the form of assisting my friend Christa at a wedding came along—twice. This was unexpected income and right away I knew what I would do with it. My trips to Indianapolis and Lake of the Ozarks to carry lenses and wrangle self-absorbed Mothers-of-the-Bride were transformed into my donation to Heifer International.
Heifer International takes the “teach a man to fish” approach to helping those in need. It is this philsophy that I was drawn to when I was an active member of our campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity twenty years ago.
A few months ago, I read a back issue of Heifer's World Ark magazine. Every issue is a great read with beautiful photography, which captures the people Heifer serves in vivid color and detail. The profiles and stories it shares from the field always stick with me.
This is when I met Dalia, a woman from Rwanda who has experienced unimaginable horror. Her photograph struck me as I realized she and I are the same age. Look at that face. She is radiant. And thriving because the gift of a goat came into her family's life. That gift first improved the family's nutrition. The gift of a goat also transformed her into a businesswoman.
I haven't stopped thinking about Dalia and how different our lives and experiences are. On days when my life seems daunting in some way, I think about Dalia and gain perspective. If she can make her way through her circumstances, so can I. I also remember that I am in a position to help, and so I want to do what I can, when I can--joyfully.
I am grateful I put donating a heifer on my 4040 list. I wouldn't have thought that donating money and running a race or hanging upside down on the trapeze would share commonalities, but they did for me. They were goals that stretched me and required me to think creatively and to trust myself. I have proved to myself once again—soon it will be forty times over—just what I am made of: determination, grit, optimism, creativity, and more. Knowing this about myself seems like a good return on investment. I look forward to fulfilling the “as frequently as possible” part of the life goal.
PS: Curious about what other items were on that ten-year old life list?
Organizing business as sustainable incomeTake a Heifer study tour
Maintain healthy fingernails
Have a home open to anyone in need
Be a tourist in my own town
Take cello lessons
Accumulate less/more love