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.
Grace is a seventy four year old guardian looking after two orphans - Minenhle, a seven year old girl and Mthokozisi, a nine year old boy. They live in a village called Maphane in the area of Wenlock, Zimbabwe. This is a dusty place, a place that hasn't seen much rain in a long time. It is a hard place to live, but these three call it home.
In 2012, this small family was given four hens and one cockerel. Grace, not too long ago, said, “The chicken project has brought some healing to us. We were hurting after the loss of my son and the challenges that came with not having someone who is gainfully employed to support us. My grandchildren enjoy feeding the chickens and I have seen their excitement grow as the flock continues to grow.
We have given back the four chickens and one rooster so that another family can start their own project. What a feeling to be able to help others!!
We have slaughtered eight chickens so far and my grand children enjoy the meat. We are using the manure in our fields, too. My grandchildren say the eggs are tasty and they enjoy them most when we mix them with vegetables from our garden. Our flock has been growing well and at one point we had twenty-one mature chickens. We even sold some eggs to our neighbors because we had plenty.”
Grace's story fills me with wonder - how a small gift can change lives so powerfully. 4 hens and a rooster are responsible for food, manure, funds, excitement in the children, and dignity in having the ability to help others. Wow.
YOU are part of this beauty. You may not know Grace and the children, but rest knowing that your gift has changed their lives and the life of the family they helped.
If you'd like to find out more about our work, please feel free to email me at tweaver@AFCAids.org. I am happy to share!
Asina Dube a 75 year old guardian from the village of Sizeze. She was all smiles when she received her fortified porridge because she knows exactly what it means. You see, she takes care of three grandchildren:
Asina Dube has seen hardship and sorrow since watching hopelessly as her children died from cholera, hunger and HIV. She says she was encouraged by the gift of food when she received her portion of porridge. She kept saying over and over ‘May God bless His servants who sent this porridge’.
The best part was watching her laugh and dance all over the grounds, singing her made up song "since God’s servants came from far, the hunger has gone away’. She narrated how she was very worried about her small grandchild who needs food which builds his body. When we explained that this porridge had all the vitamins and all the goodness the little one needs, tears of joy rolled down her face. “Don’t worry my children, these are tears of joy. I had nothing to give my grandchildren, especially the little one. We are so grateful for this gift.
The grandchildren of Asina had received 3 goats last year and now, they have five goats including 2 kids born late last year. She and the older children have been caring for the goats and they milk them to feed her youngest grandchild. She adds that even the older ones get to have milk in their tea, which helps with the hunger pains. She says’ I want to meet these people who have saved my life and my grandchildren’s lives by sending this porridge and these goats’.
Note: AFCA requires that orphans and guardians sign a contract which states that they will not sell, barter or eat their goats for three years, giving the animals a chance to grow and reproduce, establishing a herd. This is a very difficult thing to accomplish in times of hunger, so this family was gifted with porridge to help them meet their goal of becoming farmers who can fend for themselves, even in times of famine. Thanks to your donations, they are going to do it because their goats are alive and everyone should make it through this difficult time of hunger.
If you'd like to learn more about what we do, you want to volunteer or you are looking for other ways to help more people like Asina and her kids, please contact me at tweaver@AFCAids.org. We need you!
In 1984, a group of renown musicians got together to sing. It wasn't just any song they sang and they didn't sing it for a particular audience. No, they sang to raise awareness and funds for the people of Ethiopia because millions there were in danger of starvation. Click here if you want to listen. Now, don't laugh when you see the hairstyles, makeup and outfits worn in the 1980's!
Now, in 2013, there is a hunger that is stalking another country: Zimbabwe. Thankfully, the situation isn't as severe as it was in Ethiopia in 1984, but it IS severe and children no longer can walk to school because they are too weak to do so. Children and elderly people are dying because they just don't have enough food to carry them through another day. My heart breaks for them and I pray for rain and for hope for them.
During this holiday season we can all get together and do something to help others. While we celebrate with food, family and friends, we can also celebrate the giving of life to others who just don't have what they need to survive for much longer. Will you join us in giving hope?
For $1500, we can deliver enough food to feed 256 children and guardians for an entire month. Surely, together, we can do this...we can share of our riches so that children in our programs can make it though this terrible time. When they come out on the other side of it, we'll be there with seeds and livestock, ready to teach them how to grow veggies with little/no water so that next time the rains don't come, they are able to eat and survive without external help.
If you have questions or want to do more with our organization, write me at tweaver@AFCAids.org. I am here to help.
Happy Holidays, all,
It is with deep sadness that I read a report about the food situation in Zimbabwe. Here it is: http://www.trust.org/item/20130906111437-9zysp/?source=shem 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 tweaver@AFCAids.org 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.
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