Actress Diane Lane got involved with Heifer Intl. six years ago, shortly after she and her daughter, Eleanor Lambert, attended a party for the charity at Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson’s house. Other guests included wandering chicks, goats and a llama. “I was enchanted, and my daughter was impressed,” says Lane, who will be honored for her work with the org Aug. 22 at Heifer’s third annual Beyond Hunger: A Place at the Table gala at the Montage Beverly Hills.
A short time after the party, Lane and Lambert decided to journey with the group to Rwanda to witness Heifer’s work first hand. The organization provides families living in poverty with livestock in order to become self-reliant, and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to impoverished areas around the world. “They don’t just drop off some chicks and say, ‘Go make a chicken farm.’ They teach animal husbandry, and give the tools to get people started,” Lane said.
She noted that the changes in people’s fortunes thanks to Heifer’s work was noticeable, foremost in the health of the children they visited. But what really moved her, she said, was the ability of former enemies in the region to overcome the past by “passing on the gift” — giving the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. “The Hutus were giving to the Tutsis, and the Tutsis were giving to the Hutus,” she remembered. “That was so healing in going forward from the scars of genocide. Watching these women hug and cry and thank each other … you can’t help but cry.”
Lane says working with Heifer has not only her touched her life, but has enriched her relationship with her daughter.