Livestock for Orphaned Children in Congo

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Livestock for Orphaned Children in Congo
Livestock for Orphaned Children in Congo
Livestock for Orphaned Children in Congo
Livestock for Orphaned Children in Congo

This story is about a man named Nathan and his family, beneficiaries of AFCA’s Livelihoods Program in Gemena, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Nathan entered the project because of a child named Bennett whose father passed away due to complications of AIDS. Bennett was adopted by Nathan's family, joining a rather large family of 5 other children, some adopted and some biological.

According to Nathan, before being a beneficiary of this project, they had approximately 75 cents for food for the entire family per day. They obviously couldn’t eat well and the children were to weak to go to school. When he has been selected to be part of the project, he was trained in agriculture, in animal breeding and in financial management. AFCA gave him peanut, beans and corn seeds for a field, vegetable seeds for the house garden and three rabbits to breed in order to allow them to live well.

With the knowledge that he has acquired from AFCA, he has been able to change his way of feeding his family - his field productivity was good and helped him to well live.

After one year, he gave back three full grown rabbits to AFCA (for another family) and he traded a bunch of rabbits for two goats. Before long, he kept trading up and now has seven large, healthy goats. Some rabbits were sold for cash, allowing him to send his children to school. When somebody in his family is sick, he is able to bring him or her at the health clinic.  This was all unheard of in the past and Nathan is so happy to know that his life is different now.

According to his calculations, from the 3 rabbits that AFCA originally gave him, he returned three to the program, he has sold approximately 180 other rabbits and the family has eaten many more. Now he is living well with his family because, while before they consumed 1300 FC per day but now they consume 6000 FC ($3) and all the children are doing well in school.

Nathan thanks AFCA’s project because it has changed his life and he asks for AFCA to continue with its good work to help those who are vulnerable in his community.  “May Lord bless all the people who contributed to the evolution of my family.”

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Mr. Mopoe sits quietly with a smile perched on his lips as we enter his yard. When he sees us, he jumps to his feet and comes quickly to greet us and welcome us to his home. I immediately notice that there is a structure that was not there eighteen months ago...the beginning of a small house, the skeleton already standing, waiting for bricks to complete it.

As soon as we sit, he hands me $45, payment for a loan I gave him those months ago when he said that he had an idea and he needed a loan to get it moving forward. Now, he pays me back and he explains that the loan has changed his life, along with the gift of goats, seeds, garden tools, a solar lamp, and a water filter. You see, he gathered all he was given and with the $45, he hired people to help him plant the biggest garden he could. He harvested peanuts, corn, beans, and veggies. He then filled buckets with peanuts and gave loans to others in his community. If he loaned one bucket, he received two as payment. Soon, he had earned so many peanuts back, that when he sold them, he purchased a small piece of land with palm trees. Now, he presses palm nut oil for sale.

As he tells us his story, he takes a small break to call his goats, all which come running, knowing grains of corn await them. They are beautiful! So well cared for! Some are pregnant, some are babies and all are in wonderful shape. I laugh as I see a heavily pregnant goat waddle over like a puppy, full of life and goat happiness. 

I point to the new structure and if Mr. Mopoe was happy before, he is doubly so now, telling us that, thanks to the start-up he was given, he is building a house for his eldest son, right next to his own small house. It doesn't get better than this! Healthy children and animals, every child in school and eating well, growing food for his family and for an income, living debt free...Mr. Mopoe is what we hope every AFCA family can be. Smiling and waving, he bids us goodbye as we get on motorcycles to go visit another family. 

I can't help but grin as I wave and wave and wave, shouting "merci mingi"! (Thank you very much!).

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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AFCA is very happy to welcome Guy Likonza to our staff in Congo! Guy is an agronomist who has taken his new role as Manager of AFCA’s office in Gemena eagerly, learning at rapid speed and integrating himself with our families well. Guy has hit the ground running and already, he has been:

  1. Has set up a training for the next 70 families who will benefit from our livelihoods projects,
  2. Has distributed goats to other trained families,
  3. Has hired a new man to oversee the grinder project (where families can take corn and cassava to be ground into flour),
  4. Helped move our solar vaccine fridge from Tandala to Gemena, to be used in a local clinic

These are some of the tasks he has done in the past four weeks and we are grateful to have found Guy, who has taken each job with a smile and willingness to do well. His plate will be full, we know! He is a willing servant of his people, smiling as he asks questions to learn their stories, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. I liked the way he sat with families, seemingly at ease while asking questions and letting them get to know him a bit, as well. I liked the way he asked me many questions, learning as much as he could in the two weeks I was in town. As my French grew weaker after a day of work and tiredness crept in, he’d give English a shaky try and kept vowing that he’ll learn it better soon. Somehow, I don’t doubt he’ll make that happen!

We have great plans to accomplish much more in northwest Congo and it will be great to do them with this man leading the charge from Gemena.

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Charlotte with Tanya Weaver
Charlotte with Tanya Weaver

Before I was selected as a beneficiary for the AFCA project, my life was very difficult. I have eight children of my own and I raised my late sister’s six children, as well.  My husband passed away in 2011. At that time, we were spending about 1800 Congolese Francs per day for food (.90 cents) because we simply didn’t have more. Life was so hard!

Then, AFCA accepted me as a beneficiary! That is when everything changed. First, I received training in gardening and in raising animals. When I was ready, I was given rabbits, gardening tools, seeds, and a water filter. I planted the seeds and after the rains, I had corn, peanuts and vegetables and we started eating better. The rabbits started reproducing and I gave back a pair to the project, as I had agreed that I would do when I signed a contract with AFCA. I was careful with the breeding of the rabbits and soon, I had many. We ate some, along with the vegetables we grew. The extra vegetables, we sold. For our entire family, we now eat well and have 3500 Congolese Francs per day (about $1.75) to spend on extra items like sugar, flour, tea, milk, and other things we don’t grow.

The extra rabbits have become a source of income for us and we were able to build a house where we all can stay together. Now, we are so happy! We built a small house which we rent as a clinic so that other people can get help and we have income from that. Bless you all for loving us!

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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What was the purpose of visiting Congo? Why all the crazy travel and excitement? Despite many days of travel to arrive to Gemena, DRCongo and then, the days of travel between sites, we got a lot done! Here are some examples of the things we did:

Picked up donations sent from USA for our Congo programs, including all sorts of instruments for a youth education project.  

Visited with two site supervisors to see how they are doing with their work and how the families under their care are faring. This falls under our livelihood program: animals, gardens, lights, and water filters.

Delivered seeds for three hundred families.

Traveled to a remote project to conduct a needs assessment to determine if we will be doing more to help their nutrition standards and we received the request of a school roof, as their school fell during the heavy rains.

Met with a sewing and hair dressing project twice to help them think through the logistics of growth and business as mission.

Visited grannies and their families who will be the recipients of our first team of volunteer's work. We will be building a house, remodeling a house and setting up two latrines!

Worked with an engineer twice to set things in motion for our volunteers.

Discussed finances, policies and reporting with staff.

Tried to keep on top of email by visiting a friend with a satellite dish from time to time.

Worked on a big grant that is due today. Haven’t finished it yet because my laptop has decided not to work, foiling my plans to finish it during the long layovers in various airports. Must figure out how to finish it today!

And the list goes on…

None of this would have been possible without the help and hard work of Mandaba (who translated in and out of five languages and who drove me everywhere, keeping me safe), Bebe (cooked for us and kept my clothes clean while keeping me company), Matthieu (bookkeeper), Jérôme and Denase (site supervisors), Patrice (who let us sit in his living room, charging my laptop and phone while I furiously answered hundreds of emails and wrote the grant), Toussaint (driver and battery finder), and Richard (cooked for us in Tandala). Thank you to each of you!  Now, as the plane touches down into Johannesburg, South Africa, I am tired but happy. I already miss Congo!

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
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Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
Harrisburg, PA United States
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