Saturday, April 12, 2008

Birth of Heifer Project

One of the more creative service ministries growing out of Northern Indiana was Heifer Project. Dan West had developed this idea as a result of his experiences in Spain. The germ of the idea was presented to a District Men's Meeting at the Middlebury Church in Northern Indiana on April 12, 1942. Interestingly, the theme for the day was "Christianity has the Answer."

The 1942 District Men's Report for the year, written by Abe Neff, reports: "Through the suggestion of Bro. Dan West the cabinet initiated the Heifer Project. One milk cow will mean the difference between life and death, by starvation, for ten children in Belgium and other Nazi-occupied nations of Europe when the war is brought to a conclusion. After the project was set on foot by No. Indiana it was presented to Annual Conference. There it was accepted as a National Project. Our committee of 3 with 2 others appointed at Annual Conference form the National Committee. The plans are already under way to be ready when the time comes to send dairy heifers to Belgium for post war rehabilitation."

World War II prevented shipment of the first heifers to Europe. However, Brethren investigation discovered a great need in Puerto Rico. Following a dedication service at the Rock Run Church, the first shipment of heifers were shipped from Mobile, Alabama to San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 14, 1944. Shipping records in the District Office show that by February 1950, 11,320 animals had been shipped including 5,729 heifers, 81 bulls, 45 horses, and 5,465 goats. These shipments were made to such places as: Greece, France, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Albania, Ethiopia, Japan, Austria, Ecuador, and Germany.

In 1953, the Heifer Project, with its humble beginnings by the Men's Work of Northern Indiana, was incorporated as an independent, non-profit organization known as Heifer International.