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 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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Jacaranda Trees
Jacaranda Trees

It is the purple month yet again!  The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom and where roads have them planted in abundance along each side, it is like driving thru a purple tunnel.  Lovely.

It has been an exciting and eventful month on the Goat Farm!  We started the month weaning Pizza and Charlotte, which they thought was totally unnecessary and were happy to inform us of their displeasure.  They are VERY loud and vocal kids!  Weaning means we also slowly stop milking their mums, Piglet and Brittany.  So we needed new milkers and decided it was time to take Clover and Flower (the twins), Hazel and Sunny away from their mums for the nights as they are now nearly 3 months old.  This means in the morning their mums, Demmy, Wendy and Princess have milk  for us before reuniting with their kids for the day.  We feel this is a more gentle way to wean than to just remove the kids from their mums ‘cold turkey’ so to speak!  However, it does mean we have a couple of noisy nights as everyone settles to the new routine.

Mid-month we had a call from Edelow, one of our beneficiaries, whose three goats had already expanded to 6 by March of this year (sadly one passed away during a very cold spell in July).  Edelow was very worried about one of her kids who was not looking well.  Thando and I leapt into the ‘Goat Ambulance’ with our Home Visit medical box and headed off to do a house call.  While we were there we noticed that Daisy, one of the original mamas Edelow had received, was looking unhappy.  She was pregnant, but Edelow assured us she was not due until end of October.  We medicated her as well, prayed for healing and returned home.  But Edelow’s story is not yet complete! Five days later we received a frantic call from her saying that Daisy was not at all well.  Off we go for another home visit and this time we decided we would bring Daisy back for intensive care so we could watch her, rather than travel to and from Edelow’s home which is at least five miles away.  We couldn’t see much wrong with Daisy over the next few days as we monitored her.  She was very quiet initially and not keen to eat.  Then she settled down and wanted to reunite with her old friends in our herd!  She went out with the herd for a few days before we took her back home to Edelow.   The next day we get an excited call from Edelow to say that Daisy has given birth to twins!  According to Edelow’s due date they were three weeks early!  All is well though and Edelow’s herd has increased now to seven with her twins, a boy and a girl.  Her other two does are due in the next month as well, so if all goes well before the year is up, she will have at least tripled her herd.  She is an excited lady!

We have explored various methods of identifying each goat in the herd for ease of management. We tried to come up with a more practical method than tagging their ears.  We do not like this method as the goats sometimes get the tag caught on the wire fences and unless we are close by, can cause themselves an injury. We tried tattooing their ears, but that was unsuccessful and a lot of work.  However, as the goat herd grew and we had more and more unidentified goats running around, we have gone back to the ear tagging method again.  This month we chose a day and tagged all the untagged.  It is about as painful as ear piercing if done correctly.  The team did the deed without a drop of blood spilled and only a few ‘piercing’ complaints.  Job well done and we hope there will not be any fence issues!

What you may ask are we doing with the milk we are getting from the ladies we milk?  Several things, actually. We have donated some to a project in town that is assisting young school children with life skills.  One of those skills is soap making and they have introduced goat milk into the soap. We purchase some of the soap and sell it in our small craft shop. Making Kefir instead of purchasing yogurt for our kitchen. No longer purchasing milk from the shops. Making feta cheese.

We should soon be seeing more miracles on the farm when the birthing starts in just over a month.  Each birth still astounds me.  It is such a privilege to see these babes arrive in the world, usually with so much ease.  Within minutes they are up on their wobbly legs and searching for their mums’ udders.  We are in a great place – you should come and visit!

Until next time, I am off to make lunch: green salad with lots of feta!

Edelow and Daisy on Their Way Home
Edelow and Daisy on Their Way Home
The New Twins
The New Twins
Charlotte Minutes after Her Ear Piercing
Charlotte Minutes after Her Ear Piercing
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Winter is here!  We are experiencing cold like we haven’t experienced for some years – and it is likely to continue for a while!  But all is not gloom as we have also had some beautiful blue skies and warm sun while most of the visiting teams have been with us. 

While I lie in bed at night, warmly tucked under blankets with socks warming my toes, listening to the cold wind whistling outside, I think of the goats in their open shelters and wonder if we shouldn’t knit them winter woollies!

Tanya brought a team over in June to work with us around the community and with the goats.  It was a very industrious group and they got through a lot of work amidst fun and laughter.  We visited the homes of goat beneficiaries and were pleased to see the herd growth in every household.

Unfortunately with winter the browse and grazing are much less nutritious.  We are now collecting pods from some of the indigenous trees and buying in supplementary feed to stop the herd losing too much condition.

Bruce, our new buck, will soon be old enough to run with the ladies.  At the moment we are introducing him to the herd slowly so he can build up to his full potential gradually.  He is turning into a delightful character; as sweet natured as his predecessor was.

And our youngest brood who are still too young to go out with the herd have fun in the ‘kindergarten’ play area with specially collected ‘greens’.  Unlike many human youngsters of their age, they have no problems tucking into their meal of greens!

Pixie, the young lady in the top left corner above, was amongst the first born on the farm from one of the original does we purchased that were pregnant.  She has not grown to the size she should have, due probably to inadequate feeding of her mother when Pixie was in the womb.  She may never grow big enough to have her own kids but is a quiet favorite in the herd.  She finds her way into our garden and quietly finds herself good browse that her friends in the herd cannot get to!

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS enjoys the updates and stories from our partners.  We hope you enjoy them, too, and know that we could not do this amazing work without your continued support.  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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Just over a year ago, the American Foundation for Children with Aids partnered with us to supply goats to vulnerable homes. At the end of 2017 we were in a position to release our first goats into their new homes within our community.   To make it even more significant, 4 ladies representing AFCA came to assist with the delivery of the 15 goats.

Tara Fisher spent 6 months with us in 2016 through to 2017.  She helped us set up the herd and records.  It was a very busy time and nothing ever went accordingto plan!  She learned the crazy ways of Africa and missed us all so much that she came back for the first goat hand-outs!  She brought with her, Tammy, Kaitlyn and Rebecca to assist.  Tammy blessed us with her knowledge of goats and was able to help and advise in so many areas – including lancing an abscess on the udder of one of our does, and she operated under a tree with minimum First World medical tools.  The doe has fully recovered!

We delivered the first goats to Edelow, a widow who has several children.  She was ecstatic to receive Daisy, Hope and Speck.  Within days Daisy surprised her a girl kid.  The next delivery was to Deliwe, who lives with her mother and several grandchildren. She received KitKat, Nutmeg and Fern.

Next in line was Media, a deserted wife who has 6 sons who she has almost single-handedly managed to get through school.  She has also been supporting Gracious, her granddaughter who was ‘sent’ to her to be looked after.  Media and Gracious received Cali, Carlos and Moo.  Cali presented the family with twins not long after settling in!

Then came Joyce, although she is known as Sister in the community.  In Sister’s household she has her son and his wife and several grandchildren.  Sister is also a widow.  Her son has planted cotton bushes, apple trees and several unusual varieties of trees in their homestead garden.  Sister’s small vegetable garden is also very productive and she plants a variety of vegetables.  The goats Sister received were Penn, Brittany and Zoey.  We heard that Zoey gave birth to a healthy baby girl last week!

Our last delivery was to Gladys who lives in a very poor household.  She is a much younger wife to an older gentleman.  They have 4 children who should be attending school but due to lack of finances only one of them is able to attend.  The family received Blythe, Augassi and Mary, who thinks what is outside the pen is tastier than what is inside. Augassi has delivered a girl kid since arriving.

From a breeders point of view it was very hard to part with these lovely goats who we had watched improve so much since they first arrived.  We got to know their characters- who was friendly and who needed a little more attention than others.  Delivering them and seeing the happiness and excitement on the recipients’ faces somehow eased the hurt of parting with them.  And now they are settled in their new homes it is so good to hear when they are having babies, especially when they are girls so the herd can grow.  Their new owners are jubilant to announce when their ‘girls’ give birth. 

From all of us in Zimbabwe to all of the donors of this project, we thank you for your generous hearts.  Your support is making a big difference in the lives of vulnerable families in our community.

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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
$22,301 raised of $25,000 goal
 
347 donations
$2,699 to go
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