SHARE was founded in 1976 by a small group of farmers in the Region of Peel, Ontario, Canada.
Peel Region is located just north west of Toronto and has a reputation for the abilities of its agriculture community.
SHARE was partially modeled after the American non-profit Heifer Project International. In the forming stage of SHARE, Heifer provided assistance which included identifying projects in Brazil. In those early years, many farmers were involved. Many of the founding group stayed involved in SHARE their whole lives and were the inspiration for many other people to the work of SHARE.
SHARE’S first project was started with establishing a dairy herd at the University of Mossoro, in northeast Brazil. A Milton farming couple Hugh and Melba Beaty sold their dairy herd to be able to move to Brazil and supervise the project for 2 years. Ontario cattle were donated and sent down to Mossoro. In the 1970’s this was the norm for charities, but now we recognize that some native breeds are better adapted to the local climatic conditions. Purchasing the cattle in the developing country helps the local economy and avoids import and transportation problems and costs.
The Mossoro dairy project was a clear success in its ability to help the poor community of Mossoro. Some of the milk from the project was directed to Sister Ellen, a Franciscan nun to assist her in feeding the hundreds of street children in her care. Even now, nearly 30 years later, Sister Ellen is still receiving milk from the offspring of the original herd. (Read The S.H.A.R.E. Legacy letter) As the cattle herd grew, cattle were sold, and the proceeds were given to the community to build schools, health posts and community centers. The bulls were sold first. Canadian Holstein’s would fetch an excellent price from very rich farmers. A micro credit fund was established from the sales and successfully loaned to poor farmers and managed by them.
Other early projects focused on cattle, a successful water buffalo project in the Amazon, sheep, chicks, bees, irrigation, wells, tools, rabbits, crop inputs, goats, pigs, training and education.
SHARE has also been able to help in times of natural disasters sending funds to Jamaica, El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras for immediate emergency relief supplies, for homes and to reestablish agriculture projects.
Hundreds of small projects have been completed in the early years in the Caribbean and Africa, and more recently in Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti, Bolivia and even across the world in Cambodia. Some larger projects have received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA - Canada’s lead agency for international assistance. In each case SHARE has made alliances with trusted local partners who manage our projects and help us to effectively monitor the work.
At the SHARE annual dinner dance in the fall of 2010, John Webster, past Chair of SHARE’s Board (on left) honoured Hugh Beaty for his tireless dedication and work with SHARE since 1977. In receiving his award Hugh spoke of his life philosophy. “In my work with SHARE I’ve always found that in giving I have always received back more than I ever gave. I believe that if we can serve others we are not so mindful of ourselves.”
In his short book, More than a Vision, Hugh Beaty recounts the early years of development of the S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation. The book “recognizes the men and women who generously gave their expertise and dedication. It also recognizes those who contributed financial and moral support. Through good times and bad, they were always there. Like most movements for good, it started with a dream. Those who were involved from the beginning agree “we should never be satisfied with only a vision of what we would like to accomplish.” They believed that when we are aware of poverty and hunger we have an obligation to respond. The only thing necessary for evil to triumph over good is for good people to do nothing. Wonderful things have happened, and always at an appropriate time in the life of the S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation. “
This giant leap of faith by SHARE’s founding members began 30 years of unwavering commitment of Canadian supporters and volunteers to impoverished families in Latin America.
What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." Albert Pike
SHARE remembers with great gratitude the dedication and work of the late David Armstrong, loyal supporter and valued advisor. David was a founding member of the S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation; in fact David conceived the idea for the foundation and its work and inspired farm leaders in Peel and later in Halton to organize this charity in 1976. He remained on the Board of Directors of SHARE until 1993, acted as chairman of the Board for 3 years demonstrating his strong leadership qualities and integrity. He continued to attend board and committee meetings regularly, listening intently to all opinions before using his insight, knowledge and solid analysis in decision making.
David was an inspiration to all the volunteers of S.H.A.R.E. He was a great promoter of our largest fund raising event, the annual dinner dance held the first Saturday of November. Ticket sales were his specialty.
David was honoured with the Farmer of the Year Award in 1987 by the Peel Federation of Agriculture, the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Senate of Canada in 2003 for his service to others and the Caledon Volunteer and Citizen Achievement Award in 2004. He was a lifetime member of Mayfield United Church, a long time respected dairy farmer in Caledon and was involved with many other community and farm organizations. His dedication and passion for helping others will be missed.
Here are a few of the many interesting early projects: stories from Hugh Beaty’s monitoring notes.
1981 – Two young bulls were shipped to Mossoro to replace the original breeding stock.
1983 - Brazil – Santarem Water Buffalo Project - Working with the Franciscans on the Amazon, 75 animals were funded by SHARE at a cost of $350 each. Three communities received the water buffalo and through the “pass on principle”, sometime later, 3 more communities received animals. This was a popular project with our donors.
1986 - Sierra Leone, Africa – The project to increase food production with CUSO failed as did a poultry project in Kenya and corn to Sierra Leone. SHARE is learning lessons through experience.
1987 - Surinam – SHARE supplied dairy cattle to a Dutch organization for small scale farmers. A revolution took place and the farmers fled across the French Guyana River.
1987 - SHARE provided a tractor and implements to farmers in Sierra Leone to be shared by 3 communities. In theory this was the right thing to do but in practice it didn’t work. Through politics, jealousy and other factors the project broke down. SHARE learned the value of having a responsible person and organization on site to monitor in order to be successful.
1990 – Belize – San Antonio pig project. A woman’s group raised pigs to increase their income. The manure provided bio gas to operate the cook stove, light and refrigerator.
1990 – Alegra Cabera, Brazil – Working with World Vision, SHARE supplied cattle and goats to three communities.
1991 - SHARE made arrangements through Semex Canada and their counterpart in Brazil to start the use of artificial breeding.
1991 - Newton and Lorna Little traveled to Belize to find someone to oversee our projects there.
Slideshow of early SHARE projects:
Sister Ellen Scherzinger- a Franciscan nun who works together with Sister Dr. Christine Scherzinger (a medical doctor for the poor ) and the Brazilian Sister Ermelinda (director in slum schools).
About 30 years ago I met a married couple from Canada at the bus station in Mossoró. They were members of the SHARE organization, realizing a great idea - training Brazilian farmers to take care of beautiful Holstein cattle, donated by Canadian donors in order to help poor people in the Northeast of Brazil, where Mossoró is situated.
I am a German Franciscan nun, working in Brazil for 38 years. When I met those Share members, I had already founded an institution for poor children (Lar da Criança Pobre de Mossoró), exclusively in order to help the poor, specially the children, There were so many hungry and homeless children in the streets, we received them and let them stay in our house during the day; those who had no parents to take care of them, also spent the night with us. There was a great need that they could study; we built schools for them that are going on up to this day.
The friendly Canadian couple promised milk to me – and soon after they kept the promise. From that time on, every day, our institution has got about 20 liters of excellent milk from ESAM – the agricultural university of Mossoró where the Canadian cattle have been taking care of. I think it must have been about 20 000 children who have already got the benefits of that milk during last 30 years: in our schools (9), in the slums (favelas), in our professional courses for poor boys and girls (about 500 at the moment), in our homes for abandoned children who have grown up in our substitution homes, in some mud houses where the mothers did not have milk themselves to give it to their babies, and in prisons, where we have visited a lot of staffing men.
How has the milk been used? Directly, drinking it (rarely); indirectly in many forms - paps of flour, of corn, of rice, within cakes, “cuscuz” (corn), within tea and coffee; at any time of the day: for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and other opportunities, for children and hungry adults, old and sick people, for beggars in front of our house, asking for food.
20 liters is not much for all those people. In fact, it is less than they need, but during the last decades it was the only milk we have had, because we cannot buy it extra. We need the money for a lot of things that can only be paid by money: water, electric energy, gasoline, salaries of the people who work with us, etc. If that milk not had been given by ESAM who took care of the Canadian cows we could not have had it. That Canadian donation has contributed much to the health of our children and that of many poor people.
Many thanks to the Canadian donors. Many thanks to the members of SHARE responsible for that donation that has done an immense good to the poor in the Northeast of Brazil, for 30 years.