December 21, 2011
In 1980 I worked as a student in international development in Panama. I met a development worker there who excoriated Heifer International. He said HI's gift of an animal trapped impoverished farmers in a cycle of debt because they could not afford the necessary feed so Heifer gave them a loan for it which they could only pay back by selling the food they produced rather than eating it. A year ago I met someone involved in HI who said they have changed. But I don't have personal experience of that change. It is time to sign up to make monthly contributions to my favorite charities through my employer, the University of Massachusetts, and I want to give to a charity that helps the poorest of the poor help themselves, and HI talks the right talk, but I need to know that it walks the walk, too, and does not draw the poor into a monetary system in which they start out so far behind in the game that it is a harm rather than a help.
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MY ROLE:Professional with expertise in this field