Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe
Livestock for 300 Orphan Families in Zimbabwe

We have 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.

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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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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Things are moving forward on the farm and many of last year’s ‘babies’ are now ready to produce babies of their own and be re-homed into the community. We are hoping to re-home 7 or 8 in the next month.  Diamond, Thando and Talent (our chat group is called ‘The Three Amigos’!) have been watching for suitable homes as they move around the community and evaluate those that may ‘fit the bill’.  From our original beneficiaries we are starting to receive the required 3 goats back onto the farm that will then release beneficiaries from their contract with AFCA.  The does will meet one of the bucks and as soon as they are pregnant will also be re-homed.  It is a busy time and the Three Amigos are being stretched – and enjoying the challenge!   

Our sewing club was sponsored through our website to make hundreds of masks from donated fabric, which we have received over the years, a lot from visiting AFCA groups.  What an amazing way to use up scraps as well as larger pieces of fabric.  It has been a blessing for the club, as their usual small income has been affected this year with the cancellation of all our visiting teams.  The club’s main sales are from these groups.  So when we saw the window open for the opportunity to make masks for the community we leapt through it.  They made masks and gave them out in the community, to their neighbors and friends who had no money to buy masks when the government made the wearing of masks compulsory. Thank you to those people who follow us and made a donation towards this project.

Harvesting of our one bee-hive had to happen and Talent bravely donned the bee-suit and successfully harvested the hive.  We are hoping to introduce a bee project in the community in the near future and ran a workshop some months ago to see the interest people might have.  It was popular and Talent has been to a couple of further workshops.  He is showing a natural ‘talent’ for it.

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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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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This is the season we watch carefully for the Flame Lily flowers.  They are not prolific in our area and when we sight them we quickly tell others where to see them.  The Flame Lily is our National flower, which also makes them special in our eyes.

After the excitement and relief of the first rains, we have received little more.  If we don’t receive more very soon many crops already in the ground in our area will die, causing more hunger and external dependency for this year.  A friend living in Austria who assists in many projects in our area contacted us recently and asked if people were already needing help.  We told him about the rain and crop situation and he immediately stepped up and sent food to help the most vulnerable in the area.  Several of our AFCA beneficiaries were on the list and in dire need of assistance.  We were blessed to be able to help them with the gift of corn meal and a few other food items.

Our kids are growing up quickly and will soon be ready to wean.  Always a hard time for them as they will be separated from their mothers for at least 6 weeks until the mums milk dries up and the kids can rejoin the herd.  Right now they are only separated at nights and spend the days with the herd when they can drink.  This is the time when we can see which of the does are good milk suppliers and we decide which buck we put them with for their next pregnancy.  The good milkers will be matched to Fred, the Saanen buck who is our dairy buck, and the others will be matched to Bruce, the Kalahari buck who is a good meat producing goat.  When we send does to beneficiaries we try to send a mix of both dairy and meat goats.

Our last kid to be born in 2019 was Gus, son of Clover.  Gus was her first born and is a tough little character who complains loudly when he cannot see his friends, who are a little bigger, more nimble and faster than him!  Every day the herd is checked for any health problems and are attended to where necessary.  Both the guys have been to several workshops where they have learnt about illnesses, correct goat nutrition and how to make supplementary feeds from the available plants in their areas. 

In the last month we have had a quieter time and were able to take more walks around the ranch and visit a few of our neighbors.  We also had a few visitors who took advantage of the climbing routes amongst the rocks.  It looks like it is going to be another hard year for the community with the continuing struggle for water for gardens and crops.  Even drinking water is likely to be a serious problem.  Our beneficiaries at least have water filters which are still working well.  However, this community are amazing in how they live with expectations and dreams of their situations improving.  If there is a word that I always think applies to people living with hardship, it is Hope.  Hope that there will be food for the day, money for school fees, an improvement in their day to day existence.  Life is so hard but whenever we visit people there is a welcoming smile.  Their lives are a lesson to us to be grateful for the little things we take for granted: a teaspoon of sugar, a slice of bread, clean water in our cup and a bed to lie in at night under a roof that does not leak.  Until next time when we HOPE to report a miraculous weather change that will supply our community with enough water to take us though to the next rainy season!  Be blessed!

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 giving for the new year, 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 tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Organization Information

American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
Harrisburg, PA United States
$18,834 raised of $20,500 goal
 
288 donations
$1,666 to go
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