A real life piggy bank

The gift of a pig improves people’s lives for years to come

Piglets on a farm in Uganda

Uganda — Nov 2022

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Have you ever wondered where past Christmas gifts are now? After everything is opened and the gift wrap is all cleaned up, where do they end up months, or even years later?

For one family, a compassionate gift like the ones found in MCC’s Christmas Giving Guide, continues to make a difference, years later.

Mary Ilero and her husband Julius Egadu live in a small village in rural Uganda with their children. In the past, money was really tight. Although Julius worked in construction, there wasn’t enough work to go around. They couldn’t afford to feed their family and also pay for their children’s school fees.

They needed a way to provide for their family. You might say they needed a “piggy bank.” Thankfully, they received a generous gift from someone kind like you. But unlike a porcelain piggy bank, the little piggy they got was the real live thing.

A Ugandan woman holding a pig
Mary Ilero holds a piglet at the family’s farm outside of Soroti City, Uganda. (MCC photo/Matthew Lester)

From that moment on, everything began to change. The couple received training from an MCC partner on how to take care of the pig, which they named “Friend.” A little while later, Friend brought the first blessing to Mary and Julius’s family — a litter of nine piglets.

The family sold the piglets, earning about $250 total. They chose to reinvest the proceeds in their small family farm by buying a cow.

The cow now provides a steady supply of fresh milk, useful for making butter, cheese and yogurt for Mary to feed her family. With her family well fed, Mary used the proceeds from Friend’s next two litters to purchase a sewing machine and take sewing lessons.

Now she runs a small tailoring business that increased their income even more and helps provide enough income to pay for the school fees for her kids.

She kept one of Friend's piglets, named Peace, who grew up to produce even more piglets to sell. When asked how she feels about the piglets, Mary said “Those are my future. I can sell them. I can even tell [my husband], ‘this Christmas, you will not buy anything. It is me.’”

Isn’t it amazing how a compassionate gift from someone like you has made all the difference for Mary and Julius’s family?