In Peru, the gift of dairy animals from World Vision’s Gift Catalog is making a world of difference to Cupertino and his three children. Now that they drink milk every day, the children no longer get sick and have turned around the effects of malnourishment.
Today’s challenge: Give food to an organization — like a church or food bank — that serves in your local community.
“But I said to you, ‘You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations.” —Leviticus 20:24 (NIV)
Milk for medicine
Norlberto, 7, gulps fresh goat milk from a tin cup as the sun sets on his family’s hillside farm in central Peru. Then he grins, a thick milk mustache on his upper lip.
His 12-year-old brother Yerson agrees. “The milk tastes good.”
Their father, Cupertino Sanchez, makes sure that his six children drink milk every morning and afternoon. Norlberto used to get sick all the time, he says, but the milk has helped boost his immune system. Now he doesn’t even get sick during flu season.
“For us, the goat milk is a kind of medicine,” Cupertino, 39, says. The milk, and the farm animals that provide it, is a critical safeguard for his children’s health.
But more than just the physical well-being of children, Cupertino’s goats have also provided a steady source of family income, and, even more, a redemptive future for him and his children in the midst of rampant disease, poverty, and malnutrition.
Here in the rural highlands of Peru, World Vision is using animal distribution programs, funded through the Gift Catalog, to build and support communities and families like Cupertino’s.
In Ayacucho, the region where Cupertino and his family live, more than a third of children under 5 are malnourished. Some of his own children exhibit signs of stunting, the effect of babies not getting nutritious food.
World Vision picked 20 families in the village of Huayllapata to receive goats and cows. Cupertino’s family was one of those 20, chosen because he had children under 10 years old who were at risk for malnourishment.
They received four goats in 2010; then, a year later, two cows. Once the animals had reproduced, Cupertino had to give a calf and some goats to other families in need. But his herd of goats has expanded to nine, and their heifer has just given birth to a second calf. This one they get to keep. The kids named him Eddy.
“When they are born, they are very cute,” says 13-year-old Yulisa. She loves the animals, and plays with them like dolls. Sometimes she even likes to sleep in the hay with the calf.
Not just cute and cuddly, but literally lifesavers to Cupertino’s children.
“I believe that it’s the support of my children, for the education and food of my children,” he says.
The goats have also helped Cupertino redeem his family and his life.
Before they received these animals, he traveled hundreds of miles to Lima, the capital city, or to the jungle to find work harvesting coffee or laying bricks. It kept him far from his wife and kids, and he only went home every three or four months.
“My children missed me and I was not able to send them money,” says Cupertino sadly. “The way we lived was different.”
He also used to be an alcoholic, but as part of World Vision’s programs, he received family counseling, and no longer drinks. Because of the income from the goat and cow milk, he’s able to stay home and work on building healthy relationships with his wife and kids.
“It’s a great change because I’m not leaving my children here,” he says. “I was very glad, and I thanked God and World Vision for coming to this community.”
In addition to caring for the animals he’s so thankful for, Cupertino has been volunteering as an infant health promoter for World Vision for five years, ever since they came to his community. He wants to make sure that other babies don’t experience the same stunting that his children did.
Despite their setbacks, all three kids are now healthy and have dreams for the future. All three are sponsored through World Vision. Norlberto has a manila envelope stuffed with the letters and gifts his sponsor, Cindy, has sent him from the United States. He loves to play with the matchbox cars that she sent him, and he keeps everything safely tucked away in his backpack so nothing gets lost.
Even though she loves animals, Yulisa wants to be an accountant when she grows up because she likes math. Yerson says he wants to be an engineer. Both kids want to help care for animals when they get older.
Cupertino is grateful to World Vision and to the sponsors of his children, because even though they are strangers who don’t know his family, they still love and care for his kids.
“Thank you for all of these blessings,” says Cupertino. “It’s not a small thing — it’s a big thing.”
At the top: Yerson, 12, and his brother Norlberto, 7, hold on to "Eddy," a new calf that was born just eight days before. (Photo: ©2012 Abby Stalsbroten/World Vision)
Give a share of dairy animals through our Gift Catalog — a goat, a cow, and a sheep — and help change the lives of three families! The increased protein in their diets will support children’s health, and families will be able to improve their living conditions by selling the animals’ offspring and dairy products.