There are two components to the Livelihoods Program in Zimbabwe: one is the provision of small livestock (goats, chickens and rabbits) and the other is the provision of food so that the animals get a chance to produce and reproduce before they are sold, bartered or eaten.
The wait can seem long in some cases, as a family must wait THREE years for its goat herd to grow before they can slaughter or sell an animal. But, they do get to drink the milk and they do get to use the manure in their gardens, so not all is waiting and waiting and waiting. The wait time for chickens and rabbits is only one year, but again, the manure is used for gardens and children benefit from eating some of the eggs while the others are left to become chickens. All in all, the kids DO have to wait a long time before they can move to the next step of their program.
That in-between time can be tough, even with gardens growing from the manure and with the milk and eggs. To supplement their diets, AFCA also provides a monthly food basket to the most needy of the orphans with whom we work. The basket includes oil, salt, flour, fish, and beans. This rounds out what the children already have at hand and gives them a more balanced meal, helping them get healthy and allowing them to return to school now that their bellies are full.
I will be heading out to Zimbabwe for the entire summer of 2012 and I just can't wait to see the kids and how they are doing! It has been a year since I was there, chasing goats and chickens and watching people's faces light up in joy as they received their animals. Now, I get the chance to go back to visit and to see how the programs are running. We'll be introducing a new reporting system and I am excited about that, too. Ah! It is always nice to go to a place that feels like home, isn't it? I promise to come back with photos and stories to share!
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