American Foundation for Children with AIDS

The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) is a non-profit organization providing critical comprehensive services to infected and affected HIV+ children and their caregivers. Our programs are efficient, promoting self-reliance and sustainability. Since 2005, in collaboration with our in-country partners, we have served tens of thousands of families in some of the most underserved and marginalized communities in Africa. Our areas of impact include: medical support, livelihoods, educational support and emergency relief.
Jul 21, 2014

Without Coordinators, Where Would We Be?

Fundis - coordinator with a heart
Fundis - coordinator with a heart

He is a simple man, with no money to call his own.  His house is a small round hut in the middle of barren ground, with a few clucking chickens and peeps trying to find grain and worms to eat.  I hope these chickens are patient because I don’t see anything worth eating around here! His wife is inside the hut, surrounded by a cloud of smoke as she cooks a mixture of peanuts, round nuts and beans in water with a bit of salt.  They cook for a long time to get to a point where they can be eaten and when she is done, she places the single pot to the side, waiting for her visitors to come visit.

He brings us to the hut to greet his wife and lets her know quickly that we’ll be back after a few hours – we are off to visit some of the beneficiary families who received livestock in 2012 and 2013.  I don’t understand what they are saying to each other, but I listen anyway because it is beautiful , the sound of this language.  I like guessing when I’ll hear the click, pop or drag of back teeth that makes N’debele come to life. When they are done planning, we start our day.

He talks to each of the beneficiary families in a gentle way – teaching, showing, pointing out, encouraging.  He proudly shows us the animals these families are raising and smiles as he indicates healthy ones who are producing milk for the children and who are producing kids for the families.   His baggy clothes almost fall off of him as he walks on, re-introducing us to families and showing off how well the project is going. 

Between visits, I ask him about himself.  He is a pastor but receives no compensation for the church he serves.  Yet, here he is, a volunteer who works an average of four hours per day, helping orphans throughout his village.  He walks from home to home, visiting the elderly who care for the children.  He visits each and every one of his 45 families to make sure that the animals and people are healthy and growing.  Why does he do this, I ask. 

His answer is simple: my heart hurts when I see them suffering and I know I should do something to ease their pain.  This project allows me to do that and I am happy to give my time to help the orphans and the elderly. 

I ask if he gets paid to do this work and he smiles and says no.  He tells me that his payment is the satisfaction of helping others.  When asked, “how do you eat?” he shows me his garden and points to his chickens.  I find out later that other families also partake from the garden’s harvest, as he and his wife share even that.

We make our way back to his hut and sure enough, plates of a mixture of boiled salted peanuts, round nuts and beans are given to us.  As I chew and chew and chew, I realize that I have seen beauty in people before but sometimes, it appears in such pure form that it leaves me without adequate words to express it.  Here is a poor man and his wife by the world’s standards.  Yet, he gives more than anyone I’ve met.  I am humbled and I hope I am changed.

Jun 30, 2014

Goats, goats and hope

105 goats bleat and make noise in a pasture outside a school in Matopos, Zimbabwe.  We arrive to see them chasing each other, nervous as we enter the pasture and set up in our different places.  Ed and Jodi get ready to vaccinate, handlers are ready to catch goats, and Dave and I get ready to tag goat’s ears with the names of their future owners who are standing by, waiting to see which goats will go home with them.

Outside the fence surrounding the pasture, families wait and some donkey-pulled cards are ready to be loaded with goats because the walk home is long and the carts will make the move easier and faster.

Soon, we develop a rhythm – goats are caught and brought in for vaccination and tagging.  I leave Dave to the tagging and start talking to families, hearing over and over again how this project is going to help the children stay in school while helping guardians feed the children for whom they care.  Everyone is a winner here and it is thrilling to be a part of this day.  It only takes two hours to complete our work here and we move away knowing that something good has happened.  Children and adults have hope that they will be self-sufficient, able to care for themselves without need of further external help.

Before leaving,”Siyabonga”, a song about thanks, is sung to our small group by the elderly guardians and children. It makes me smile each time I hear it because I know that with the thanks, we also receive wishes of blessing and joy.  Feet stomp and hands clap as they sway and sing and my heart stomps and claps to the rhythms, too.

Thank YOU for being the one to whom we should all sing Siyabonga.  Thanks for caring.

Due to an incredibly weak internet connection here in Zimbabwe right now, I can't upload photos, but will do so as soon as i can.

Jun 30, 2014

Goats for 35 Families

105 goats bleat and make noise in a pasture outside a school in Matopos, Zimbabwe.  We arrive to see them chasing each other, nervous as we enter the pasture and set up in our different places.  Ed and Jodi get ready to vaccinate, handlers are ready to catch goats, and Dave and I get ready to tag goat’s ears with the names of their future owners who are standing by, waiting to see which goats will go home with them.

Outside the fence surrounding the pasture, families wait and some donkey-pulled cards are ready to be loaded with goats because the walk home is long and the carts will make the move easier and faster.

Soon, we develop a rhythm – goats are caught and brought in for vaccination and tagging.  I leave Dave to the tagging and start talking to families, hearing over and over again how this project is going to help the children stay in school while helping guardians feed the children for whom they care.  Everyone is a winner here and it is thrilling to be a part of this day.  It only takes two hours to complete our work here and we move away knowing that something good has happened.  Children and adults have hope that they will be self-sufficient, able to care for themselves without need of further external help.

Before leaving,”Siyabonga”, a song about thanks, is sung to our small group by the elderly guardians and children. It makes me smile each time I hear it because I know that with the thanks, we also receive wishes of blessing and joy.  Feet stomp and hands clap as they sway and sing and my heart stomps and claps to the rhythms, too.

Thank YOU for being the one to whom we should all sing Siyabonga.  Thanks for caring.

Due to an incredibly weak internet connection here in Zimbabwe right now, I can't upload photos, but will do so as soon as i can.

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