Professor learns from African adventure

By Melissa Steven
September 16, 2005

Accounting Professor Ann Servey traveled to Zambia, Africa, with Heifer International for 12 days to visit the villages, people, and to learn what it really means to teach a man how to fish.

Servey, said, “I saw an organization making a true difference.”

Heifer International is an organization that is trying to “end hunger, poverty, and to care for the earth” all over the globe, according to website. Servey explained that Heifer trains a family in animal management, gives the family pregnant livestock, and then the family can use the animal to produce food and labor, improving the families’ way of life and to provide them an income.

Servey went on a study tour of Zambia hosted by Heifer. “The accounting side of me wanted to make sure that the money was going where it needed to go,” Servey said. “I needed confirmation that Heifer’s mission is successful.”

The tour included 12 people, four from the Heifer offices in the United States, and the other eight ranged in age from 18 to 71. Jim Lehman, one of the men on the trip, spent three years in Zambia from 1965 to 1968 teaching science. Servey said that it was amazing to see him come back to a country where he had taught so long ago. He even went back and visited the school that he once taught at.

She was introduced to Heifer International when her daughter did her high school senior project on Heifer and that is when she got involved. The idea of giving a family a cow and teaching them how to raise and take care of it instead of giving them a “cup of milk” intrigued Servey.

“I was able to see people developing self reliance,” she said. Each day over the course of her trip Servey visited two or three villages where Heifer had a project. She witnessed the passing of the gift ceremony. At the ceremony the family who received an animal signs a contract to pass on one or more of their animal’s offspring to another family in need, and also agrees to pass on to others the training and skills that they have acquired, according to

“It was a big celebration,” Servey said. “They were so thrilled to see us there. Every one of them tried to feed us, so we ended up eating a lot each day,” she said.

Heifer has projects going on all over the world, from the United States to China. Servey said that she had considered visiting an Indian reservation or to Poland to observe Heifer, but she had always wanted to go to Africa. “I learned the true meaning of a safari, a journey of Africa,” she said.

When traveling to the villages from the capital, Lusaka, Servey said that the villages did not disturb her because they were “wonderful and warm,” but what did disturb her was traveling to the villages. “You didn’t see the suburbs while riding to the villages, you saw shanties, you saw despair,” she said.

“In the villages I saw great hope and a major respect for education and a bright future,” Servey said. Heifer believes in people and they want to train them to become self-sufficient and be able to earn an income because in Africa you cannot attend school if you do not have money for a uniform, books, and tuition. So if you are poor you cannot go to school Servey said.

Education professor Phyllis Rumpp has asked Servey to speak to her Roots and Shoots club. “I invited Ann to speak because of our concern for the environment,” Rumpp said. “When Ann told me about her experiences with Heifer, I felt that it would be a great connection with the environment and how we as a nation cause pollution that is felt around the world.”

“There are so many places to go and I want to move forward. I would like to take another tour with Heifer somewhere different next time,” Servey said.

Servey said that her overall experience in Africa was a positive one, “I was very fortunate, there are horrible conditions in Africa, but I saw a positive side. To observe what I saw impressed me tremendously,” she said.

Servey will be speaking on Thursday, Sept. 15, in room 354 in Founder’s Hall at 9:40a.m. to the International Management class, on Monday, Oct. 10, in the Widener Center Lecture Hall at 12:30 p.m. to the Music/Culture S/SE Asia class, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, in room 202 in Founder’s Hall at 12:30 p.m. to the class People on the Move, and to the “Roots and Shoots” Club, for which the date and time are not yet scheduled.

For more information on Servey’s trip visit or

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Melissa Steven

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