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

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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Although we still have had no rain and plants and trees are looking stressed, the Jacarandas still show their beauty around the city and bring smiles to stressed faces. 

We have 5 new babies!  Not all have names yet but that will change shortly, either when we get sponsors or when we find fitting names for them, as it is very confusing having babies running around with no names!

The drought and lack of good browsing is having an effect on some of our pregnant does, especially our ‘first-timers’.  A few of our older goats and the feeding mamas are struggling to maintain good condition. We have lost several babies who were born premature and even aborting half-way through their pregnancy.  Reports have been made to us that this has also been happening within the community. On a trip to town this week I called in to consult our vet about this problem and he recommended some mineral and vitamin supplements but assured me that we were not the only one experiencing this at the moment.  He also puts it down to the extreme heat and dryness of vegetation.  We have purchased a lot more supplement to help them get through to the rains and new growth

One of our latest beneficiaries is Elaine, let me introduce you.  Elaine is a widow whose husband died of AIDS, leaving her with 4 children to bring up and educate.  Her father is a local village head.  She is fortunate in the fact that they all live in their own homesteads, and the homesteads are very close, making it safer for Elaine, a single parent, to have her own home while enjoying the security of family close by.  They are a very poor family and work their small gardens for food and to sell if they have extra.  I met Elaine some 11 years ago when she and a group of other ladies who had AIDS visited me and asked for help with food.  I was not in a position to give hand outs but suggested we look at what skills they had or would like to learn.  And so birthed the little Craft Group that meets at Morning Star regularly.  The club is made up of 8 ladies who have various skills.  One or two knit and crochet well while the others are better with sewing projects.  We have been able to make a steady but small additional income that has helped the ladies pay school fees for their children and buy groceries.

Elaine is a very strong character and a GREAT dancer!  Life is especially hard for woman alone in Africa. Although she lives close to family, quite a few of the family are AIDS sufferers as well and not strong.  She has been busy constructing a new home almost entirely on her own, with a little help from her father and brother.  It’s a start but there is lots still to do. When we delivered her goats, they were all close to giving birth.  After a week we received a panicked message to say they had run away.  The word was put out in the neighborhood that there were lost goats and to our delight after a few days they were reported to be about 5 miles from their new home.  Diamond and Thando went out and collected them and redelivered to Elaine, who was so very happy!  Although she was happy to get them home, over the next couple of weeks they all either lost their babies or aborted.  Desperately looking for reasons why this should have happened, we put it down to the stress of being lost and travelling so far before being found.  We have no idea what experiences they may have gone through.  We will collect them all as soon as the rains start and have our bucks cover them again.

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. 

Elaine and Her Children
Elaine and Her Children
Elaine's Goats
Elaine's Goats
Elaine's House
Elaine's House
The Beauty of the Jacarandas
The Beauty of the Jacarandas
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American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
Harrisburg, PA United States
$18,189 raised of $20,500 goal
 
277 donations
$2,311 to go
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