July 3, 2004: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Obituaries: Bradenton Herald: Joan Shipers Memering served in the Peace Corps together in Colombia in the late 1960s. She exemplified the Corps mission

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Colombia: Peace Corps Colombia : The Peace Corps in Colombia: July 3, 2004: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Obituaries: Bradenton Herald: Joan Shipers Memering served in the Peace Corps together in Colombia in the late 1960s. She exemplified the Corps mission

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - 141.157.22.73) on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 8:09 pm: Edit Post

Joan Shipers Memering served in the Peace Corps together in Colombia in the late 1960s. She exemplified the Corps mission

 Joan Shipers Memering served in the Peace Corps together in Colombia in the late 1960s. She exemplified the Corps mission

Joan Shipers Memering served in the Peace Corps together in Colombia in the late 1960s. She exemplified the Corps mission

Flock of Hope feeds the poor, honors friend

Ibought a hive of bees, a bunch of trees and three flocks of geese, ducks and chickens this week.

My gift is a memorial to my friend, Joan Shipers Memering, who passed away a week ago today.

It was Joan's wish that instead of sending flowers, friends and family make contributions to the Heifer Project International, a nonprofit organization based upon the simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief.

Now in operation in 115 countries around the world, the Heifer Project has placed millions of heifers, goats, buffalo, chickens, pigs, ducks, geese, rabbits and bees with poor families around the world. The idea is to help hungry people feed themselves. The offspring go on to other poor families, spreading self-sufficiency.

This is the parable of the loaves and fishes in action.

Joan's wish to be remembered through the work of Heifer International so fits her spirit.

We served in the Peace Corps together in Colombia in the late 1960s. She exemplified the Corps mission.

She had a knack for helping others help themselves.

A writer and teacher of deep compassion, Joan possessed a thirst for knowledge and powered an intellect that was always searching, but always ground in the belief that we are put on this earth to love and serve one another.

In that respect, she reminds me of the founder of Heifer International. Here's his story as told on the Heifer International Web site.

A Midwestern farmer named Dan West was ladling out rations of milk to hungry children during the Spanish Civil War when it hit him - "These children don't need a cup, they need a cow."

West was deeply troubled him that he was forced to decide who would receive the limited rations and who wouldn't - literally, who would live and who would die. This kind of aid, West wisely surmised, did not work.

So he founded Heifers for Relief, a project dedicated to ending hunger permanently by providing families with livestock and training.

He chose heifers because the young cows could supply a continued source of milk and also produce calves that could be given to other families.

West's project ultimately became Heifers Project International. There are three components to the aid program.

Livestock and other material goods

Training and extension work

Organizational development, which includes planning, management, record keeping, passing on the gift, reporting and evaluation.

Community based, the Heifer Project workers help a town, village or group of families determine their needs, resources and skills. The idea is to create a network that will lead people to self-reliance, built upon animal husbandry which provides food and ultimately a source of income.

So why did I chose bees as one of my gifts to remember Joan?

For starters, Joan and I both read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd, this past spring.

It was the perfect book at the perfect time.

Joan told me "The Secret Life of Bees" gave her hope when she was facing death.

It gave me strength, when everything around me seemed to be falling apart.

The book is ultimately is about goodness, how it never fails and always finds a way to spread, like honey flowing out of jar.

"We lived for honey," says the main character, Lily Owens. "We swallowed a spoonful in the morning to wake us up and one at night to put us to sleep. We took it with every meal to calm the mind, give us stamina, and prevent fatal disease. We swabbed ourselves in it to disinfect cuts or heal chapped lips. It went in our baths, our skin cream, our raspberry tea and biscuits. Nothing was safe from honey . . . honey was the ambrosia of the gods and the shampoo of the goddesses."

Bees also have remarkable memories, just like Joan. Their amazing eyes let them see the big picture, "the sun, tree and flower patch" basic to problem solving.

Bees also work in teams.

Joan's organizational abilities could turn a group of people into a powerful force able to move mountains and accomplish the impossible.

I chose chickens, ducks and geese, of course, because they lay precious eggs, one of the world's best sources of protein. Their droppings produce a wonderful fertilizer that makes crops grow.

So the Flock of Hope suits Joan, because she always saw a way to find a dozens uses for the most simple things.

And trees, well, this is sentimental.

They are strong and beautiful and last forever.

Just like my friend, Joan.

On the web

Heifer Project International

WWW.HEIFER.ORG

P.O. Box 8058

Little Rock, AR 72203

(800) 422-0474

Cover illustration by KRISTEN SANTONI/The Herald




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Story Source: Bradenton Herald

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Colombia; Obituaries

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