About the Authors: Natasha Adams and Jeffrey Cary serve at U.S. Embassy Vilnius.
On May 25, U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Anne E. Derse helped commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Baltic Heifer Foundation. The group is part of the U.S.-based Heifer International, which works to reduce hunger, overcome poverty and promote sustainable development. Ambassador Derse praised the foundation for their ongoing work, noting that "...giving an animal to a family goes far beyond the original investment. It promotes self-reliance and long-term development, rather than short-term relief. It allows an entire community to become self-sustaining." The Baltic Heifer Foundation has invested over 10 million litas (USD 3 million) in rural development by providing training to local communities and giving them more than 500 heifers.
The anniversary event took place at a foster home, which the resident children had decorated with art inspired by the work of the Heifer Foundation. While a local high school band provided a lively accompaniment, Ambassador Derse joined the other dignitaries, who included the Executive VP of Heifer Project International, the Vice Minister of Agriculture, and parliamentary representatives from Lithuania, Poland, and Estonia, in distributing pairs of goslings to the children. In the spirit of the Heifer Foundation, the children will raise these geese to maturity, and then donate their offspring to others to raise.
The Baltic Heifer Foundation offers a unique and effective approach to tackling hunger and poverty. We wish them every future success, and were glad to have the opportunity to reach out to a rural area of the country and highlight the important work of this organization and its support for the development of the agricultural economy in Lithuania.