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

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 

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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 

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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 

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In last update, we all were praying the rains would not be long in coming.  The plants in the bush were sending out new growth hopefully and trees were starting to flower despite no sign of water.  I shared the purple Jacaranda tree flowers and this month we have amazing shows of the red flowers of the Flamboyant.  Our city of Bulawayo is awash with them as they take over from the purple to lift our spirits a little from the depressing Zimbabwean economy in which we are all trying to survive!  

Then after watching the skies for promising rain clouds, the rain arrived!  Delightful, refreshing and soaking rain.  Immediately the bush plants and trees were washed clean and new growth appeared overnight.  Also what appeared overnight were twin boys, Brad and Ben, born to the famous Piglet, the second doe in our original herd.  While in the community we discovered this sweet young donkey foal who we couldn’t resist sharing with you.  Although Brad and Ben are not yet sponsored they have been named after our grandboys! 

As a result of the struggles we had with water, this year, we have invested in water storage tanks that will be filled from rain water coming off the rooves of the new goat sheds, erected by the two AFCA teams who visited us this year.  The overflow will be fed into a holding reservoir.  In the last week we received about 5 inches of rain and the tanks are filling rapidly.  For us who live in a drought area, this is very exciting.  In one of the photos you can see a few of our team next to the one goat shed just after they had completed the installations.  This will be a huge benefit in the coming years.

Ruth, who visited us with one of the teams this year, ran an Embroidery Workshop for some of the ladies in our community.  It was such a great success that a number of the ladies have started a club in the hope of improving their skills.  I am not an embroider at all, but between us we are ‘playing’ and starting to develop ideas that may be able to supplement their income.  

Another year is nearly over.  Like everyone we have had highs and lows.  Fortunately, we had so many highs this year that we can hardly remember the lows!  As we watch our does produce such perfect little kids, it remains proof for us of our miracle-working God.  He is ever present in the little things as well as the big and nothing is too small for Him to involve Himself in!  As we finish this year may our own lives reflect the wonders around us. Despite the hardships and sadness we live through each year, may this Christmas and the coming year be filled with blessings.  As we enter our own 2020 race, whether it is a short sprint or a marathon, may we run it well and strong. 

The team here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS thanks you for supporting this project and the work we do for the children in Africa.  As you start to make decisions regarding your end of year giving, please keep us in mind so we can continue our good work into 2020 and beyond.  We wish you a new year full of many blessings and as much hope as you have shared with us.  If you would like to learn even more about what we do or how you can meet some of the children you have helped, please contact Tanya Weaver at 

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Micah Hard at Work Doing Administration
Micah Hard at Work Doing Administration

As we entered our second year of our partnership with AFCA and the goat project (we had a herd of around 50 goats at that time with some does pregnant), I remember Tanya asking if we wanted to expand the herd.  Our reply was – ‘Not yet, let us get established with this number first, we still have a lot to learn.’  Well, we are into our third year and like it or not our herd has expanded to just under 100!  We are STILL learning and STILL have a lot to learn, but it has been a fun time with some heartaches along the way, but so many more highs than lows.  Meeting the folks who join AFCA’s visiting teams has been a definite high, making friends that often feel like family by the time they leave.  Sharing what we are doing with the teams and their enthusiasm refreshes us for the harder days we face.  Right now, our major concern is the drought and the scarcity of water in our region. 

Mamas with big tummies are waddling around preparing to surprise us with a delivery or two!  Already this birthing time we have been presented with 11 babies.  In that number are included twins by our half Kalahari doe.  Bruce is the father, so we are getting closer to breeding pure Kalahari Red goats.  The twins, Henri and Mercy are also amongst the 11 and are a good size.  We anticipate they will be fine specimens when they are full-grown. 

Before we left for break there were two mamas, Marci and Demmy, who were obviously so close to delivery.  We were sure they would deliver before we left and so we visited them regularly, day and night, to see how they were doing and begging them to birth before we left.  The last thing we did before getting into the car, on the day we left, was to check on them once more – but nothing.   We were eager to meet these babies as they would be Fred’s first babies to be born since his arrival on the farm in March of this year.  No sooner did we arrive in town (a 90 minute drive) than I received a text saying BOTH of them had given birth!!!  Marci produced a whopping 8 pound doeling and Demmy presented us with a set of twins; a buckling weighing in at 6 ½ pounds and a girl at 6 pounds.  Well done Fred!  This will hopefully be the start of the milking herd.  In a little more than a year these two girls should be producing their own babies and therefore milk.  A number of does who are due to deliver soon are first timers.  It is good to be close by to help if necessary, although our assistance is seldom needed!

Last month we delivered to two further beneficiaries: Easy received Tess, Cocoa and Hobo, while Jabulani received Marty McFly, Toot Toot and Mango.  Jabulani had a smile from ear to ear when he visited us, a few  weeks after receiving his does, to tell us that they had all birthed and he now had eight goats!  In just over a month his herd more than doubled! 

One of the challenges we had to face with a larger herd was staffing.  We needed to employ another man for the goat team and asked Keith to join us.  He lives on the border of the ranch and is the son of a lady, Emma, who we often ask to help in the camp when we have visiting teams with us.  Talking of additional helpers, we had a young man spend a few days with us and he asked if there was something he could do to help us.  NEVER do you ask me that question unless you seriously want to help!  Micah sat for several days updating the goat records, from the simplest of data collection to the more ‘interesting’ activity of creating new records following buck and doe progeny.  LOTS of work!  He did a great job as I had not been able to fully update the records since the start of our teams arriving in June. 

Thanks for taking the time to share our triumphs and challenges.  Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts as we struggle through this dry time towards the hope of early rains.

Finally, I read this today and felt there is a lot of truth in it, so I share it with you! 

A great thinker was asked, ‘What is the meaning of life?’  He replied, ‘Life itself has no meaning, it is an opportunity to create a meaning.’

Be strong, be kind and create meaning in your life!

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 

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American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
Harrisburg, PA United States
$33,816 raised of $40,000 goal
728 donations
$6,184 to go
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