Blogging Along the Brandywine

Last Christmas, my Mother gave a family in Thailand a water
buffalo. Really!

My family is a little quirky that way.

Many years ago, we asked my grandmother–who lived very
comfortably and had absolutely everything–what she wanted for Christmas. “Oh
Jane, I don’t need a thing,” she laughed to my mother, “All I need is toilet

So my father went home, took a long length of sturdy wire,
ran it through the tubes of a dozen new (wrapped) rolls of toilet tissue, and
fastened it at the top. Then my mother wound the giant doughnut-like shape with
a roll of green crepe paper, beautifully decorating the whole thing like a
Della Robbia holiday wreath.

Merry Christmas Grandma!

(You begin to see where my family gets their weird sense of

But let’s get back to Mr. Water Buffalo.

More than 65 years ago, Dan West, a mid-western farmer was
handing out milk rations to children during the Spanish Civil War when he
realized, “These children don’t need a cup, they need a cow.”

In 1944, 17 heifers left Pennsylvania, for Puerto Rico,
going to families whose children had never tasted milk.

So Heifers for Relief, now Heifer International was born,
dedicated to ending hunger by providing families with livestock as well as
training so they would be, “spared the indignity of depending on others to feed
their children.”

Heifer International’s mission includes, “…giving families a
source of food rather than short-term relief.”

This simple idea caught on, and since 1944, Heifer
International has helped 8.5 million people in more than 125 countries.

A story about Heifer on the CBS news magazine, 60 Minutes
stated: “With all the money donated to help fight famine around the world, with
all the grandiose plans conceived to conquer poverty, sometimes all it takes to
save a child is a goat.”

And by the way, you can give a dairy goat to a family in
Peru or Tanzania for $120.

Or, choose a flock of chicks, ducks or geese for only $20.

Imagine, for only $20, a family can not only begin to
nourish their children with eggs, but sell the extra eggs and chicks for
income, as well as fertilize their vegetable gardens with the droppings from
the flock.

I learned about water buffalo when my mother “bought one”
for a family in Thailand for $250. These large beasts are so gentle that the
youngest teenage child can care for them. 
With the power of a water buffalo, a Thai farmer can plant in 2 days
what would take 2 weeks to sow by hand. In addition, the milk nourishes and the
dung fertilizes.

As one Thai farmer said, “If I die, my family will weep for
me. If my buffalo dies, my family will starve.”

No matter where we live in this affluent community of Chadds
Ford or the immediate Brandywine Valley, we are all blessed with so much more
than we could ever need.

So make sure you have this link, I guarantee you will feel

 Oh, just one
more thing.

I wouldn’t recommend giving the guinea pigs to a family in
Ecuador if you have children in the house, unless you are prepared to explain
why their little whistling pets with the dark inquisitive eyes and soft fur are
also considered … excellent source of protein.

Happy shopping!

About Sally Denk Hoey

Sally Denk Hoey, is a Gemini - one part music and one part history. She holds a masters degree cum laude from the School of Music at West Chester University. She taught 14 years in both public and private school. Her CD "Bard of the Brandywine" was critically received during her almost 30 years as a folk singer. She currently cantors masses at St Agnes Church in West Chester where she also performs with the select Motet Choir. A recognized historian, Sally serves as a judge-captain for the south-east Pennsylvania regionals of the National History Day Competition. She has served as president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates as well as the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford where she now curates the violin collection. Sally re-enacted with the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment for 19 years where she interpreted the role of a campfollower at encampments in Valley Forge, Williamsburg, Va., Monmouth, N.J. and Lexington and Concord, Mass. Sally is married to her college classmate, Thomas Hoey, otherwise known as "Mr. Sousa.”

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