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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

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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The sun has set on an incredible few weeks of hosting teams from around America.  Are we sad to see them leave us here in our home in the hills of Matopos, Zimbabwe?  Yes!  Without a doubt!  So much was achieved in so many areas in the time each team was with us.  So much good, good stuff was achieved and shared with us and our community!    

Tanya and Eric led the first team of energetic and enthusiastic folk.  The goal was to erect a goat shed in order to renovate our current shed that had really reached it’s sell by date.  They had four days to do it in and the determination to complete so the second team could start on the renovation of the old shed was tangible on day one.  Working with third world tools, no power and crooked poles the men tackled the job with gusto.  A few quiet words of frustration were heard, but the words were overcome by the hard toil to complete the job.  And so they did on the last day and the goats are very happy with their new home.

The ladies helped the men dig holes and hammer in nails.  They visited and worked in the pre-school in the community every day, assisting the young teachers with the curriculum. Ruth ran an embroidery workshop. Thirteen ladies aging between 15 and 70 attended.  Ruth taught them the beginning stages of embroidery over three mornings.  The enthusiasm was noticeable, as each day they became more proficient and relaxed until they were singing as they worked.  Ruth spent the eve of the last day preparing a wall hanging to leave with them.  The group completed it with their own work.  It now proudly hangs in the church.  Hopefully this workshop will be the start of a ladies club that may generate a little extra income for each member.

We also delivered three goats to Chipo!  Here she is pictured with Tanya explaining to her how the water filter works.  Then we visited Victor to see how his goat herd was growing and visit his three recently born kids.

No sooner had the first team left the camp than the second AFCA team arrived!  It was a smaller team but with as much energy and enthusiasm as the first!  What they lost in numbers they made up with muscle!  The renovation of the original goat shed was completed before we could say ‘Bruce the Buck’ and then small but necessary jobs were completed around the property, including re-building a wooden bunk bed for an imminent guest.  Jodi ran a sewing workshop where she taught our sewing club to make a purse.  The ladies were delighted and we hope to be selling them in our little shop soon!      

Jodi also ran a goat workshop focusing especially on the importance of nutrition and correct breeding practices.  There was a good question and answer time and it was felt that good information was shared.  

This is just a little review of what these two teams did while with us.  So many untold stories, so much laughter and sharing of information and lives.  So many good memories to keep us smiling.  Thank you AFCA for once again visiting us and your project to help not only us but our community.  Until next time ...

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 are back in harness after a delightful break in Atlanta and Statesboro, Georgia.  We attended a conference held each year for missionaries around the world.  It was a special time to catch up with old friends and make new connections. The groups that have come to us, over the last few years, ALWAYS want updates on the goat program.  Many of them have met Tanya Weaver and her family, so the connections have become deep and impactful.

While we were away we were sad to hear that one of our young does aborted halfway through her pregnancy.  It was her first pregnancy, and this is one of the reasons we like to keep our first time mamas until they have had their first babies, before we send them to beneficiaries. We have had a few first time mamas head for the hills directly after they have delivered!  Fortunately though they have returned very quickly to become good mothers!  The good news, though while we were away, was that Trio, one of our original herd, had a beautiful doeling that weighed in at just under 9lbs!  We thought she was having twins and were surprised when only one baby arrived.  After weighing the babe we understood why Trio looked so large! Her name is Biscuits.  

Biscuits is the first born this year and a few days ago we welcomed Aggie into the herd - another little girl who arrived two weeks before her due date.  She was born with very weak hind-quarters and not a lot of sucking power.  We spent time ensuring she was getting enough food and helping her to steady herself on her back legs.  Only 4 days after her birth she was as strong as any newborn.  She is springing onto rocks, knows exactly where to find mum and demands her nourishment with fervour.  The move is on and more births are imminent before the onset of winter.

This year looks like it is turning into a very bad drought year again.  The community wells are almost dry and we are at the end of our rainy season.  Almost all the crops in the area have failed and it looks like a hungry year ahead.  We are encouraging all the goat owners to start collecting and drying food for their goats.  

Onto more encouraging news though!  One of our first beneficiaries who we have shared with you about, Gladys, is ready to return 3 of her young girls as her herd is growing so fast!  She is nervous she will not be able to build onto her shelter before the hard winter arrives and her does produce more babies. Plus she is worried that a buck will impregnate her young doelings before they are of breeding age. Her returning the doelings will mean that she is released from her contract, more than a year ahead of the required three years!  She feels that out of the 11 goats she has, only 2 of them are males so giving back 3 of her does will still leave her with 6 breeding females.

Fred, the Saanen buck, who also joined us in March, is settling well.  Saanen’s are milk goats, so we are planning on using Fred to produce a herd that will provide more milk, which will be a real asset within the community.  He has intimidating horns, but we don’t think he has any intention of hurting anyone!  He came from a home where he was loved and pampered, so has had to get used to being one of a big herd!  He has also had to get used to rocks!  His previous home was fairly flat and our rocks here were a bit daunting for him when he first arrived until he found his footing!  He stuck to the smaller rocks where he was confident!  He and Bruce have been introduced to each other, but we will not risk any battles developing over the ladies, so are keeping them well apart.  He has already covered a few of the does, so we look forward to seeing his babies in the next few months.

We delivered 3 pregnant does last week to Victor, all of whom are due to deliver within the next 6 weeks. Victor’s nephew lives with him and they will work the goats together.   We are also preparing to deliver to new three new beneficiaries in the next week.   

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It is always a fascinating time of the year, watching these babies arrive in the world.  We have 12 new kids and 8 of those are twins!  Sometimes we are lucky enough to observe and cheer our mums on as they work hard to bring their babies into the world.  Then to see how within the hour those helpless babies are doing a wobbly balancing act and searching out their mum’s udder for the first suck of nourishment.  In each birth I see another miracle of life. We still have several more does due to give birth and so the waiting game continues. 

So far we have had a really good season with 4 sets of twins and 4 single births.  Ratio of bucklings to doelings is slightly in favour of the girls!  It is a close competition!  We are short of sponsors for names and have given temporary names as it is hard to communicate with babes with no names!!!  We can’t call them all Cutie!!!! Some of the temporary names are Bubble and Squeak, Shirley and Shrek, Peach and PawPaw (their mum is Mango!) Cecil and Pookie.  

We have also been busy visiting families, and have identified another few vulnerable families where we are hoping to re-home does.  One family Thando and I visited live over 8 miles from us on a very ‘scenic’ road!  We were lucky to be able to get to a speed of 6 miles an hour for most of the drive.  We will need to move the goats there before the rains begin as I do not think a vehicle will be able to travel those roads easily when the wet season is upon us.

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 2019 giving, please keep us in mind so we can continue our good work.  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
$16,840 raised of $20,500 goal
 
242 donations
$3,660 to go
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