Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans
Food and Self-Reliance for AIDS Orphans

In March, 40 of the Morning Star goats were moved across to Providence to develop a new multiplication centre to feed into a new community east of Bulawayo.  Thando and Keith have moved across and have both settled well.  We have plans to update their living quarters so that their families can join them here at Providence.  All the training and time Norma and Diamond have invested in them has been an incredible blessing, and trust that their knowledge and experience will continue as we expand the project.

We have built a few enclosures, one for the bucks and a maternity unit for the does when they kid. 

In June we had a primary school visit the farm, the children got to see lots of different aspects to farm life, including how the project is designed to help vulnerable families in our community, and the goats loved having kids feed them treats from the greenhouses!! 

Our numbers have increased with the birth of 6 kids. Gary is organizing transport for 6 beneficiary does and Fred from Morning Star later this week!!  Sadly we have also had a few loses for first time moms, but hopefully they will do better next time round. 

We have also built a "milk bar” and I will start to experiment for cheese making when the volumes increase.  I am grateful for the milk that we are getting at the moment because we are supplementing a lamb that has been rejected by its mom.  

As we come to the end of our winter we look forward to the next batch of kids on the block!! 

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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This Easter we had three new lives to celebrate, Rabbit, Stewart and Daniel.  Rabbit arrived first and made her demands known early.  Our does remain with their babies for three days and then, while the babies sleep, they go off with the herd to browse and graze, coming back several times during the day to feed their babies.  At four days old the babies sleep most of the time their mums are away.  Birthing usually happens with several mums delivering within days of each other so the babies have company and are not left on their own – very distressing for any child!  Rabbit’s mum, Hope, delivered earlier than expected so on day 3 Rabbit found herself with no company – and she told us she was not happy about the situation.  She cried and called until we thought our hearts would  break, so we decided to bring her into the garden where we were working.  She made herself right at home and, at 4 days old she was bossing the dogs around and demanding to share their space.  Ramsy and Pippa were amazingly patient and tolerant of Rabbit’s disrespect for their positions in the home and allowed her great liberties!  Even to the point of Pippa allowing her to share her bed!

While Rabbit made herself comfortable with us, Fred, who is not the most agile goat, managed to slip off a rock while stretching for a leaf just out of his reach, and found himself stuck between the rock and the fence.  He is a large goat and the space was very small.  It took two strong men to assist him out of his predicament!  He was more embarrassed than hurt, I think!  Before Fred joined us he lived in an area with few rocks, on mostly soft sand and grass.  When he arrived he was not sure what a rock was and struggled to jump onto or off of the rocks which we have in abundance on Morning Star.  He has come a long way since then and this little slip was his first in a long time!

Sadly we have had several deaths in the community over the last few months, mostly the elderly.  One that effected us more personally was the passing of one of our beneficiaries, Elsie.  Elsie had not been well for some months and the doctors were unable to help her.  She was a founder member of our Sewing Club which started in 2012.  She was the member who kept us all laughing at her honest and amusing anecdotes. She leaves two young daughters still at school.  Please pray for them as they face the years ahead without their mother.  The family has very few resources and now have to absorb the expense of yet another two mouths to feed. 

When the sewing group was started, someone asked me, on hearing that most of the ladies had HIV, why I had set myself up for sadness? I didn’t understand the question at first, and she had to explain that when they died from AIDS it would be hard.  It was such an unexpected question!  I had never thought about it like that!  Do I regret starting the group?  Absolutely not!  All of them have had so much to offer in so many ways.  Their lives have opened up so much understanding for me and their friendships and struggles have become part of our lives.  Sad when members have died?  Absolutely.  Regrets?  Not at all.  Should we not be here for each other, despite the potholes along the way?  I have learned more from the people who I have walked alongside than I could have if I had chosen to walk on the otherside of the road. Let us all come alongside each person we meet and hear their stories.  Hopefully it will make us more grateful and compassionate.  AFCA is a true disciple of exactly that.  Finding out the stories and walking the hard roads with them.

Elsie and her two little daughters.  We pray that they have inherited their mother’s strong character.  And may their lives be a little easier than hers was.

Go well and go with someone.

Elsie and Her Daughters
Elsie and Her Daughters
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New beginnings always mean there have been endings.  I think I share the feelings of many that we are hopeful that this new year will not be like the old year; that we are heralding in a year of hope and new expectations.

At ‘Morning Star’ ranch, we started the year by rehoming a small herd of our older ‘ladies’ with their babies to a new venue where we will be pushing the production of milk and its by-products (cheese in its many forms!).  Sarah, a good friend, has been watching our project with keen interest. She is a small-holder farmer who has a few good dairy cows whose milk and cheese she sells to a small market.  We have partnered to promote goat milk into the city of Bulawayo, via her established markets.  With her knowledge and well-established dairy, we are hoping to learn the intricacies of cheese-making. 

Here are Bruce, Trio and Goatrude settling into their new home.  We miss them!  However, it is interesting to see how the younger does are stepping up without the older does around.  When I go into the paddocks to check and chat to the herd it has always been the older does who will come up to me to see what I may have for them. If the younger girls come too close, one look or butt, from them and they scuttle away.  Now those younger girls are keen to come up to me and are delighted when they get the head scratch the older girls used to get!  This photo shows a few of the does that beneficiaries have returned to us after their three-year contracts expired.  Beauty, bottom right, came into us pregnant and produced Luke, a good-looking boy. It has been interesting to meet the characters that have been returned and watch how they have integrated with the rest of the herd.

Another new beginning in the community woke us at 6am on 2 January with a cry for help to take a new mum and her baby to the clinic.  The baby had decided to arrive 10 days early and was born at 5am at home. It is always a surprise to me to see how strong most of our rural ladies are.  Mum, holding the baby, walked casually out of her house and climbed into the car while her mum and sisters accompanied her to the clinic.  The other photos are of the clinic and the hand-sterilizing on entry!

When we finally returned home in November, it was to unpack and distribute items sent to us in the AFCA container!  Many items were delivered to the above clinic where their resources are incredibly limited.  Even band-aids are scarce.  The bandages and birthing kits brought big smiles to the clinic staff!  While the mother kits brought smiles as well as tears to the mothers who have so far received them.  There are many more where those came from and mothers with their new babies will be receiving them as they leave the clinic after delivery.  These were welcome gifts for many!  Thank you to all the people involved in the collection, packing and work that it took to actually get the container from the USA to Zimbabwe!  

And so another year is on its way to next year!  2020 seemed to move so fast, despite all the abnormalities that occurred world-wide.  For us the ‘Morning Star’ phrase we have lived by, over the years, seems to be more true than ever:  ‘The plan in there is no plan!’  Now we can add: ‘The normal is there is no normal!’  We are learning to live with no set plans but a quiet, ‘Let us see what the Lord’s plans are!’

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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A lot has happened on ‘Morning Star‘ since our last update; more than I can adequately cover here. Let me grab the most interesting and keep the rest for later.  Oh dear, that is difficult – it is ALL interesting! 

15 goats were delivered to 5 new families and we anticipate delivering to a few more families shortly.

The father of most of the does handed out was Rupert, our first buck born on the farm; a half Kalahari Red.  These does are all now carrying babies either from Bruce our ¾ bred Kalahari Red, or Fred, our Saanen dairy goat.  What this means is that the genes of the goats in the community will be improved with the introduction of a meatier goat and a milk producing goat.  We have been encouraging the beneficiaries to milk their goats for added nutrition in their homes, and hope this mix of breeds will be successful in the quantities they can achieve.

When the five new families received goats, the ‘Three Amigos’  visited some of our present beneficiary families to see how the herds were progressing.  Lufasi, one of our first beneficiaries proudly showed us his herd. Top right are two of our original stock herd, Oreo and Snowflake.  Each of these does had just produced yet another baby to add to Lufasi’s herd.  Lufasi recently repaid the three does the contract calls for, (after three years, three does are ‘paid back’ and then the rest of the herd belongs officially to the beneficiary).  The bottom photo shows some of his herd and the top left is one of the does, Cindy, which he returned to us.  She was pregnant and a month after her arrival she produced this very sweet little doeling. 

AFCA graciously donated towards the Zimbabwe call for food assistance.  The lockdown caused all sorts of tactical problems, but after a long delay, we were able to get food parcels to vulnerable homes in our rural community. All the goat beneficiaries and sewing group families, as well as many other needy families in the area, were so excited to receive this unexpected blessing.  Several families danced with joy when the food was delivered to them. 

It brings back powerfully to us how much so many of us have and how little others have to survive on.  May we find it, in our hearts, to walk with our hands held loosely over the excess that we have and become more aware of the needs of the poor and vulnerable.  

Although it seems many COVID restrictions are slowly been lifted, let us continue to be wise as we begin to socialize and move around.  By protecting ourselves we can protect others.   Keep safe!

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 uncertain and turbulent times we suddenly find ourselves in!  Times of confusion, fear of what tomorrow will bring, and if the ‘normal’ that we have grown to know will ever return. 

We have a new baby on the farm!  Sheila, one of our original does, gave birth to a bouncing little girl, weighing in at 7pounds 7 ounces!  Fred, our Saanen (Dairy) buck is the sire.  Sheila has given us some very good babies in her time with us.   

We have been connecting with several potential beneficiaries.  After some training and checking of shelters, the team has been able to transfer to four homes; that means at least 12 of our pregnant does have left the home herd to help establish herds and therefore independence in vulnerable homes in our community.  Exciting!   We will then have only a few pregnant does remaining in the herd, and those are pregnant by Fred, our dairy buck.  We will now wait a few months before we introduce any does to the bucks so they will not give birth in the winter months. Giving birth in our cold winter is hard on the mums and kids in our environment and we try to prevent pregnancies occurring during this time.

The little brown and white doe, Jakey, was returned to us by one of our beneficiaries, Victor, recently as the first of his ‘pay backs’.  The little black and white kid next to her, Jami, is actually Jakey’s mother!  Jami was handed out pregnant just over a year ago.  The reason I show you these pictures is to indicate how well the programme is working in our community. I previously introduced you to Easy, one of our beneficiaries.  Prayer would be appreciated for her health as she has been struggling for several months now.  With the Covid-19 now appearing in Zimbabwe, she could be very compromised.

As I sign off, I pray for safety and health for you all, may we not be brought down by fear of what tomorrow may bring.  People keep saying to me that they cannot wait to get back to ‘normal’.  What is ‘normal’, I ask myself?  Daily things change – what was normal last year or even 10 years ago, is not what tomorrow’s normal may look like.    We move on into different seasons and different experiences daily.  Let’s not be scared of change but embrace it (from a distance at the moment!) and be excited by what lies ahead after we deal with this virus that has caused such apparent havoc in our lives.

A quote I read today by Brene Brown spoke loudly to me: ‘We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.’  There IS a silver lining in it somewhere. Let us keep looking for it while we support those who have experienced loss and additional hardships.  

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
$34,095 raised of $40,000 goal
 
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