Goats help charity

An organization dedicated to ending world hunger has found that goats may be the answer to giving children in impoverished families the gift of a better life.

Since 1944, Heifer International has provided resources to millions of poor families around the world to help them become more self-reliant. For example, through the charity's gift of livestock and agricultural training, a family can obtain milk, eggs, wool and other income-producing benefits to feed, clothe and educate their children.

Recipients then promise to "pass on the gift" by donating their animal's offspring to other families in need.

While Heifer supplies all kinds of animals, its annual "Kids to Kids" campaign focuses specifically on giving children the gift of goats. This animal can easily be cared for by youth because goats are playful and respond well to lots of love.

Heifer has found that goats have everything necessary for a child to grow up healthy. They provide protein-packed milk to build healthy bones, rich manure to fertilize gardens and increase crop yields, and fine wool to make warm clothes.

Nanny goats often have two to three kids a year. As the herd multiplies, families are able to sell surplus animals, milk, manure and crops to neighboring villages for much-needed income.

Surprisingly, investing in a goat and in agricultural training for a poor family costs less than what a privileged family spends on dinner and a movie. But to Beatrice Biira of Uganda and others like her, the gift of a goat can make all the difference in the world.

Thanks to Heifer's gift, Biira went from severe poverty and hunger to having the health and extra income she needed to go to school. The tale of how the animal transformed her life was featured on a recent segment of CBS's "60 Minutes." Her story also is told in the award-winning children's book, "Beatrice's Goat," written by Page McBrier and illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter.

Heifer International currently works in 50 countries, including the U.S. For more information, visit www.heifer.org