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Down on the Farm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“Roughing it on a farm for a week.” Those were the eight words my mother chose to describe what I was about to endure. I had signed up for this mission trip months earlier with little knowledge of what I was getting myself into. When day one rolled around, I was terrified.

I arrived at my friend's house at 7:30 a.m. We kissed our parents good-bye and drove to the church, where about 40 kids were eagerly waiting, armed with duffle bags, sleeping bags, and pillows. An enormous bus pulled up, and before I could think twice I was headed to Massachusetts.

After a four-hour ride, we reached our destination – Overlook Farm – and moved into our new homes: wooden and canvas shelters with cots and countless flies. This was the Heifer International Project location in Massachusetts. We were here for a week of environmental, educational, dirty-goat-milking fun.

On day one we learned about the farm's origins, how to be eco-friendly, and Heifer International's beginnings. Their mission is “To work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.” They help communities in need by providing them with a heifer (cow), a goat, a pig, bees, chickens, or other useful animals. The community can use the animals in numerous ways (milk, meat, transportation, etc.).

I became immersed in working on the organic, eco-friendly farm. We milked goats, picked vegetables, weeded gardens, and fed the numerous animals, including water buffalo and even a camel. We spent a good portion of our days in a classroom learning about people who sought aid from Heifer. We also did fun activities including team-building games and making mozzarella from water buffalo milk. (Did you know that authentic mozzarella cheese is made this way?) I really enjoyed it.

The most eye-opening part of the trip was our night in the Global Village, which is made up of replicas of homes from countries like Kenya and Poland that receive help from Heifer International. I spent the night in a replica mobile home from northern Kentucky, which really made me realizes that poverty doesn't just happen in third-world countries; it can exist in your own community.

While spending the night we read about the Nash family, who live in Kentucky. They wrote to Heifer to tell them about their community's situation and ask for help. Heifer sent them a cow. I was shocked; I never imagined that anyone in the United States needed this kind of aid.

On the bus ride home, I reflected on everything I had learned and accomplished that week. I had gotten to milk a goat, made 40 new friends, and learned about Heifer International's mission. Most importantly, I had my eyes opened. I never realized how many people were struggling every day just to feed themselves, let alone survive, and I learned how Heifer comes to their rescue.

This trip inspired me to take action personally to help others in need. This fall I organized a food drive to help stock local food pantries. This trip led to my hands doing the helping.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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