Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe

May 2, 2014

Chicken and the egg

Girls with their chickens
Girls with their chickens

 Daisy is a 72 year old guardian looking after three prhaned girls in Maphane, Zimbabwe. The girls are Sinethemba, aged fifteen, Sihle, aged fourteen and Tholakele, aged three.  About a year ago, AFCA, thanks to YOUR generosity, gave this family four hens and one rooster as part of our Livelihoods Project. They so desperately needed an income generator and when given the opportunity to be trained in animal husbandry and to start their own chicken flock, they jumped at the chance.  

Since then Daisy says they have watched in amazement as the chicken project blossomed to give a hopeless family hope and restored pride. “When my son died, the situation was very bad for me and my grandchildren. We felt like the world had turned against us and that everyone hated us. We struggled to get food; at most we would eat once a day and I saw my grand children’s lives deteriorating at a very alarming rate.  I could see sadness in their faces. Then one day, a local Pastor told us that the area committee had selected our family so that we could start a chicken project!  Our lives have been changed by this project. At the darkest point of our lives, we came to the realization that there are some people out there who still love us. The chickens have multiplied rapidly. At one point, we had twenty five mature chickens.  As required by the project, we have given back four hens and one rooster so that another family can start the chicken project and that was a really good feeling - to be able to help someone else. We have sold more than eight chickens so as to pay school fees for the girls and to buy them uniforms. We are eating eggs during our breakfast and the children enjoy them. We are also eating eggs as side dishses and these days, we can even afford three meals a day. We are using manure from the chickens in our plots and the crops are responding well.  This is such an amazing gift!”

Really, friends, this is because of YOU. You were generous and you changed lives.  Thank you!

On an aside:

I am excited to announce that Microsoft will be making a 100% match to this specific project on June 25, 2014, starting at 12:00PM EDT and ending on June 26, 2014 11:59AM EDT (24 hours).  There are only $200,000 available in matching funds, and last year, the funds ran out in the first couple of hours.  If you’d like to support our project again, this is the perfect day and time to do so.  Please mark your calendar and consider giving to this project on that day.  You’ll double your help to our children!  Please share with friends, as there is a $2500 bonus prize for the project with the most unique donors, which we’d love to receive!

Feb 18, 2014

Taletha tells the tale

Taletha and her porridge
Taletha and her porridge

Theletha  is a 69 years old guardian from Sizeze village in Zimbabwe who is looking after her three orphaned grandchildren: Ashillary  is a 13 year old girl, Talent is a 16 year old boy and Amandolive is a 14 year old girl.

Theletha says she and her grandchildren were struggling to survive before the fortified porridge came. Since the rains did not do so well last year and their crops failed, there was nothing to give her grandchildren to eat. She says ‘it was very painful for me to send my grandchildren to school knowing they are going on empty stomachs.  The porridge came just in time. I had given up and was in tears daily. Now my grandchildren have shining cheeks", she adds before bursting into laughter. She points out that she is amazed that someone can think about her from such a distance to send her this porridge. She prays that God bless them.

Granny Teletha’s grandchildren received three goats in 2012. She is celebrating since those goats have multiplied and now she has 6 goats and 3 kids. Teletha says,” I had no hope of buying livestock for my grandchildren. Now they walk with their heads held up high because they can be counted among the people with livestock.  If I die, I know that they will not suffer. They will be able to survive with the milk and meat from the goats."

And now, thanks to the gift of porridge, the animals are not in danger of being butchered before their time, before the flock is big enough to sustain the family.  

We at AFCA are thrilled for Taletha and the children - they are a fine example of how well this livestock project is going.  Thanks for supporting it, friends! 

If you'd ever like to know more about our work or how you can become more involved, please write me at  I am always happy to answer questions!

Dec 5, 2013

What Happens to Livestock During a Drought?

Goats recipient with new kid - his herd grows!
Goats recipient with new kid - his herd grows!

The AFCA livestock project continues to get stronger despite a number of challenges that have been encountered. 

We are so excited to see that more than 75% of the chickens in the Biriri area have started laying eggs and it’s only a matter of time before we see the phenomenal growth. The rabbits in Biriri are a large breed which tends to take longer to start reproducing, but those rabbits are doing their best! What is exciting, though, is the fact that over 50% of the families who received rabbits have started recording pregnancy cases.

Considering the harsh conditions the animals have been exposed to this drought year, we are very happy about the performances. We must point out the record growth in the pig pilot section!  This is the first time ever for us to be involved in a pig project and so far, the performance is AMAZING! One family had 10 pigglets born this season!

It is also worth noting that more than 95% of our beneficiaries are utilizing their small stock and are benefiting on a varying scale. Some are collecting manure and urine for their gardens and others are enjoying eggs, milk and rabbit meat. Eight families have already sold a rabbit in order to pay school fees and three families have eaten a rabbit as relish.  This means they already gave two rabbits away to another family and have enough left over to be a small business.  Good stuff!


The major challenge this year is limited feed resources due to drought. The families are fully aware of the importance of dry season feed and are doing a lot to alleviate feed shortages and ensure the survival of their small stock. In all our sites, beneficiaries are supplementing their small stock by using legume residues which include ground nut hay and cow pea hay. Sorghum and maize residues are also used. The bulk of the beneficiaries are also using wild legumes and are also collecting acacia pods for their small stock. Those with chickens and guinea fowls are supplementing using sun flower seed and small grain. The orphan families are very excited that we are introducing fodder crops and they see it as a very effective way to mitigate the effects of dry season shortages that threaten the gains of various projects.

Diseases and parasites continue to be an issue in some areas, but it is worth noting that the regime that has been put together has made a great impact in countering these threats. Through training, beneficiaries are having sound understanding of basic small stock diseases, prevention and treatment. Orphan families have reported a lot of diseases during this dry season which could be due to poor nutrition and subsequent poor body condition. The most common diseases have been pulpy kidney, internal parasites, tick borne diseases and eye problems. But, we are happy to report that the orphan families did not lose many animals because of the vaccination and deworming programmes. Also, in cases of sickness, the families have improved a lot and are reporting such cases on time. The beneficiaries, through AFCA sponsored training workshops, are exposed to farm level disease management and are accessing relevant support services through the use of veterinary kits and trained veterinary assistants.

We are incredibly grateful and happy about this program and we are expecting to add a new site this year so we can help even more children.  Thank you from all of us in Zimbabwe!

Sep 13, 2013

Preparing for the Lack of Food

Training in Conservation Farming
Training in Conservation Farming

It is with deep sadness that I read a report about the food situation in Zimbabwe.  Here it is:  I have a hard time understanding how some of us have so much and others have so little. It is hard to wrap my head around the fact that children will be hungry while we throw food away and complain because we want more choices. 

But, there is a silver lining around my thoughts - because of you and of AFCA, there are 628 orphaned families who are eating this season and they are eating balanced meals, at that.  That means, there are over 3100 children and guardians that get up in the morning to milk their goats, gather eggs from under their chickens and who gather vegetables from their gardens.  Yes, times will be tough for them with little water, but, with planning and proper mulching and water conservation, I trust they will all get through this next drought healthfully and full. 

What about the other children, though?  There are 1,800,000 orphans in Zimbabwe and all of them should eat.  None of them should perish due to lack of food.  Now is the time to do more, to dig deeper and to help out the others.  AFCA is expanding our programs to include two more villages in Zimbabwe, but we need your help (and that of your friends) to make it possible.  We'd like to purchase and deliver more goats, chickens, guinea fowl, seeds, and hope.  Will you help us?  Let's rally together during this last part of the year and do more for more children.  This will be the cry of my heart as we march into the holiday season - let's give kids on the other side of the world the chance to celebrate life, too. 

We are taking our first volunteer team to Zimbabwe in June 2014.  We'll be finishing the construction of a school and will be building arborloos.  Come join us, visiting this magnificent country and see what you've helped us accomplish.  If you are interested in being part of a Volunteer with a Purpose team, email me at and check out our website (VWP tab) to find out more.  We have space for 16 people - why not be one of them?  Families welcome.

Conservation Farming Works!!
Conservation Farming Works!!
Jul 2, 2013

Meet Mr. And Mrs. Dube

Mr. and Mrs. Dube with their garden
Mr. and Mrs. Dube with their garden

I just returned from Zimbabwe last night and while I am tired, I am also exhilarated. I visited families who received livestock and seeds last year and who are now watching their herds and gardens grow. I was hugged and kissed and made to feel like a family member. I hugged and kissed back and held babies and vaccinated goats. I attended trainings and counted new babies added to flocks and herds (14 new kids this past month and countless rabbits). I passed out photos I took last year and watched as my friends danced and clapped at seeing themselves in a photo. The smiles of joy were amazing to watch and to hold on to.

One of the families that took my heart are in the photographs with this report. They are elderly, as you can see. They are raising EIGHT orphaned children, ranging from 3 years old to 16 years old. Together, the family is working the land to work a small set of gardens where they grow veggies for themselves. They also are raising the goats we gave them and to date, they have 5 in their herd, with one pregnant goat about to give birth.

With his ripped sweater and pants and scary cough (we need to see what is happening there), Mr. Dube is all smiles, as is his wife, whenwe conduct a spot visit to their humble dwelling. He proudly shuffles to their garden (he is 83!) to show me what is going on there.  I see that the garden is nicely mulched and congratulate them on a job well done. The couple smiles and says that they do it for and with the children, as they want them to have a better life.  They all eat better now - greens, oranges, yellows, and whites on their plates each day.

I am humbled by our visit to the Dube family. I am touched by their love for the children and for the hard work they do to care for them. When I thought my feeling of fullness was all I could feel, I hear Mrs. Dube say to her husband as she looks at the photo I give them, "Tanya loves us". I turn to her and say "oh, yes, I do". We hug. I get back into the truck and with a tear in my throat, wave an "I'll see you soon" wave out the window.

My heart is full.

Dubes with two of the children in their care
Dubes with two of the children in their care

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Project Leader

tanya weaver

Harrisburg, PA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe