Most of the time, any major corporation’s headquarters are closed to the public. You have to be a suit-wearing employee with a shiny plastic badge that bears your name to slip in. But Heifer International, a charity organization striving to end world hunger, doesn’t just encourage visitors to stride around their grounds, they’ve even built an educational facility for them (ahhh, my heroes). As an adult, I must admit, there aren’t more facts displayed than what you can find on the website. But honestly, the more hands-on an experience, the more enjoyable it is. So block of an hour of your day and join me at Heifer Village.
Built on the site of an abandoned railroad yard, Heifer International is a contemporary green design building. Do you see the glassy exterior? The windows are meant to bring in as much natural light as possible for the staff. What about the water feature outside? Non-consumable water on the property is all gray water. Little details like those not only amplify the modern look of the building, but are also what led to Heifer International’s platinum certification in Energy and Environmental Design (the highest award that can be received).
We walk over to a smaller building, just off the main headquarters. This is Heifer Village. Inside, we are met with columns of images – pictures of what appear to be men and women from developing nations wrapped around blocked cylindrical holds. A volunteer at the front desk greets us and eagerly offers us a private tour. During the school year, this single-story home sized complex is bustling with young ones, who eagerly toy with the displays.
Right now, it is quiet. We learn a little about the way Heifer Village is set up from the guide. Each focus arena is in a “hut” that we can poke around. Soon it dawns on us, Heifer is far more than a company that donates livestock to farmers in need. It is intent on passing on its principles. You see, each person who gets livestock and training has to pass on their livestock’s first born and the same training to another farmer. It’s like a game of telephone, except the impact is far-reaching.
We walk into the “Education” hut and flip through books from foreign countries. We listen to the muffled sound of an antiquated radio. We rotate through cards and learn about fair-trade. Heifer Village is a must for any child under twelve visiting Little Rock, Arkansas. We always hear about how laborers are mistreated on the news and in magazines, but to have it put into perspective with graphs and maps and numbers is simply eye-opening.
We continue strolling from hut to hut, gaging the facts, before advancing to the cafe for a quick break. The menu isn’t extensive, but all the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced (which is to be expected). The cafe feels like an indoor hotel coffee shop – slick, clean, and only the faintest aroma breezes through. We stand in line to order a salad, but are tempted by the special, and select that as well. As we proceed outdoors, you fork a quick bite and are at an immediate loss for words. We had expected corporate meeting-room food – soggy and tasteless mounds, but this salad is soft and crunchy and subtly flavourful, all at once.
We glance at our watch in a sharp mechanical motion. Fifty minutes have passed. Before we leave, we check out the gift shop. The products sold here are the offspring of the charity’s projects, made by locals in the developing countries where Heifer has set fort. By purchasing a hand-crafted plate or bracelet, we are essentially donating to the charity. We get a unique piece for a unique cause (it’s a win-win situation).
It’s almost three-o’clock. The weekday-only cafe is closing and we have the rest of the city to explore. Come on, I have so much more to show you.
Address: 1 World Ave, Little Rock , AR 72202
Timings: 9AM – 5PM
Have you ever been to Heifer International? Did you enjoy this guide to Heifer Village? Let me know in the comments below!