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

Meet Othiliah, a 55 year old guardian. She takes her reponsibility to heart in caring for the four children in her care.  She shares her home with Primrose (age 11), Anabel (age 10), Limpert (age 6) and Eric (age 1).  They are a family bound by Othiliah's love and dedication.

Othiliah and the children have been blessed beyond words by your generosity!  She tells us about the rabbits they received back in 2012 ...

"We are enjoying the fruits of the project.  We have sold six rabbits and we managed to buy uniforms and pay school fees for the children.  So far we have slaughtered five rabbits as relish and the whole family enjoys the meat.  This is the best project.  I wonder why other people struggle, because if you apply what is taught during training and report quickly if a rabbit is not well, there is no room for failure.  This is a project I cannot stop talking about! "

Thank you for being a part of the hope that keeps this family going.  Can you imagine 6 rabbits helping to provide school fees and uniforms?  Amazing!  Your generosity is felt each day that Primrose, Anabel and Limpert are able to attend school.

Would you like to learn more about our projects and the work we are doing every day? Please write us at And, check us out on Facebook and Twitter and see what else AFCA is up to (@AFCAids).

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Fundis - coordinator with a heart
Fundis - coordinator with a heart

He is a simple man, with no money to call his own.  His house is a small round hut in the middle of barren ground, with a few clucking chickens and peeps trying to find grain and worms to eat.  I hope these chickens are patient because I don’t see anything worth eating around here! His wife is inside the hut, surrounded by a cloud of smoke as she cooks a mixture of peanuts, round nuts and beans in water with a bit of salt.  They cook for a long time to get to a point where they can be eaten and when she is done, she places the single pot to the side, waiting for her visitors to come visit.

He brings us to the hut to greet his wife and lets her know quickly that we’ll be back after a few hours – we are off to visit some of the beneficiary families who received livestock in 2012 and 2013.  I don’t understand what they are saying to each other, but I listen anyway because it is beautiful , the sound of this language.  I like guessing when I’ll hear the click, pop or drag of back teeth that makes N’debele come to life. When they are done planning, we start our day.

He talks to each of the beneficiary families in a gentle way – teaching, showing, pointing out, encouraging.  He proudly shows us the animals these families are raising and smiles as he indicates healthy ones who are producing milk for the children and who are producing kids for the families.   His baggy clothes almost fall off of him as he walks on, re-introducing us to families and showing off how well the project is going. 

Between visits, I ask him about himself.  He is a pastor but receives no compensation for the church he serves.  Yet, here he is, a volunteer who works an average of four hours per day, helping orphans throughout his village.  He walks from home to home, visiting the elderly who care for the children.  He visits each and every one of his 45 families to make sure that the animals and people are healthy and growing.  Why does he do this, I ask. 

His answer is simple: my heart hurts when I see them suffering and I know I should do something to ease their pain.  This project allows me to do that and I am happy to give my time to help the orphans and the elderly. 

I ask if he gets paid to do this work and he smiles and says no.  He tells me that his payment is the satisfaction of helping others.  When asked, “how do you eat?” he shows me his garden and points to his chickens.  I find out later that other families also partake from the garden’s harvest, as he and his wife share even that.

We make our way back to his hut and sure enough, plates of a mixture of boiled salted peanuts, round nuts and beans are given to us.  As I chew and chew and chew, I realize that I have seen beauty in people before but sometimes, it appears in such pure form that it leaves me without adequate words to express it.  Here is a poor man and his wife by the world’s standards.  Yet, he gives more than anyone I’ve met.  I am humbled and I hope I am changed.

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Girls with their chickens
Girls with their chickens

 Daisy is a 72 year old guardian looking after three prhaned girls in Maphane, Zimbabwe. The girls are Sinethemba, aged fifteen, Sihle, aged fourteen and Tholakele, aged three.  About a year ago, AFCA, thanks to YOUR generosity, gave this family four hens and one rooster as part of our Livelihoods Project. They so desperately needed an income generator and when given the opportunity to be trained in animal husbandry and to start their own chicken flock, they jumped at the chance.  

Since then Daisy says they have watched in amazement as the chicken project blossomed to give a hopeless family hope and restored pride. “When my son died, the situation was very bad for me and my grandchildren. We felt like the world had turned against us and that everyone hated us. We struggled to get food; at most we would eat once a day and I saw my grand children’s lives deteriorating at a very alarming rate.  I could see sadness in their faces. Then one day, a local Pastor told us that the area committee had selected our family so that we could start a chicken project!  Our lives have been changed by this project. At the darkest point of our lives, we came to the realization that there are some people out there who still love us. The chickens have multiplied rapidly. At one point, we had twenty five mature chickens.  As required by the project, we have given back four hens and one rooster so that another family can start the chicken project and that was a really good feeling - to be able to help someone else. We have sold more than eight chickens so as to pay school fees for the girls and to buy them uniforms. We are eating eggs during our breakfast and the children enjoy them. We are also eating eggs as side dishses and these days, we can even afford three meals a day. We are using manure from the chickens in our plots and the crops are responding well.  This is such an amazing gift!”

Really, friends, this is because of YOU. You were generous and you changed lives.  Thank you!

On an aside:

I am excited to announce that Microsoft will be making a 100% match to this specific project on June 25, 2014, starting at 12:00PM EDT and ending on June 26, 2014 11:59AM EDT (24 hours).  There are only $200,000 available in matching funds, and last year, the funds ran out in the first couple of hours.  If you’d like to support our project again, this is the perfect day and time to do so.  Please mark your calendar and consider giving to this project on that day.  You’ll double your help to our children!  Please share with friends, as there is a $2500 bonus prize for the project with the most unique donors, which we’d love to receive!

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Taletha and her porridge
Taletha and her porridge

Theletha  is a 69 years old guardian from Sizeze village in Zimbabwe who is looking after her three orphaned grandchildren: Ashillary  is a 13 year old girl, Talent is a 16 year old boy and Amandolive is a 14 year old girl.

Theletha says she and her grandchildren were struggling to survive before the fortified porridge came. Since the rains did not do so well last year and their crops failed, there was nothing to give her grandchildren to eat. She says ‘it was very painful for me to send my grandchildren to school knowing they are going on empty stomachs.  The porridge came just in time. I had given up and was in tears daily. Now my grandchildren have shining cheeks", she adds before bursting into laughter. She points out that she is amazed that someone can think about her from such a distance to send her this porridge. She prays that God bless them.

Granny Teletha’s grandchildren received three goats in 2012. She is celebrating since those goats have multiplied and now she has 6 goats and 3 kids. Teletha says,” I had no hope of buying livestock for my grandchildren. Now they walk with their heads held up high because they can be counted among the people with livestock.  If I die, I know that they will not suffer. They will be able to survive with the milk and meat from the goats."

And now, thanks to the gift of porridge, the animals are not in danger of being butchered before their time, before the flock is big enough to sustain the family.  

We at AFCA are thrilled for Taletha and the children - they are a fine example of how well this livestock project is going.  Thanks for supporting it, friends! 

If you'd ever like to know more about our work or how you can become more involved, please write me at  I am always happy to answer questions!

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Goats recipient with new kid - his herd grows!
Goats recipient with new kid - his herd grows!

The AFCA livestock project continues to get stronger despite a number of challenges that have been encountered. 

We are so excited to see that more than 75% of the chickens in the Biriri area have started laying eggs and it’s only a matter of time before we see the phenomenal growth. The rabbits in Biriri are a large breed which tends to take longer to start reproducing, but those rabbits are doing their best! What is exciting, though, is the fact that over 50% of the families who received rabbits have started recording pregnancy cases.

Considering the harsh conditions the animals have been exposed to this drought year, we are very happy about the performances. We must point out the record growth in the pig pilot section!  This is the first time ever for us to be involved in a pig project and so far, the performance is AMAZING! One family had 10 pigglets born this season!

It is also worth noting that more than 95% of our beneficiaries are utilizing their small stock and are benefiting on a varying scale. Some are collecting manure and urine for their gardens and others are enjoying eggs, milk and rabbit meat. Eight families have already sold a rabbit in order to pay school fees and three families have eaten a rabbit as relish.  This means they already gave two rabbits away to another family and have enough left over to be a small business.  Good stuff!


The major challenge this year is limited feed resources due to drought. The families are fully aware of the importance of dry season feed and are doing a lot to alleviate feed shortages and ensure the survival of their small stock. In all our sites, beneficiaries are supplementing their small stock by using legume residues which include ground nut hay and cow pea hay. Sorghum and maize residues are also used. The bulk of the beneficiaries are also using wild legumes and are also collecting acacia pods for their small stock. Those with chickens and guinea fowls are supplementing using sun flower seed and small grain. The orphan families are very excited that we are introducing fodder crops and they see it as a very effective way to mitigate the effects of dry season shortages that threaten the gains of various projects.

Diseases and parasites continue to be an issue in some areas, but it is worth noting that the regime that has been put together has made a great impact in countering these threats. Through training, beneficiaries are having sound understanding of basic small stock diseases, prevention and treatment. Orphan families have reported a lot of diseases during this dry season which could be due to poor nutrition and subsequent poor body condition. The most common diseases have been pulpy kidney, internal parasites, tick borne diseases and eye problems. But, we are happy to report that the orphan families did not lose many animals because of the vaccination and deworming programmes. Also, in cases of sickness, the families have improved a lot and are reporting such cases on time. The beneficiaries, through AFCA sponsored training workshops, are exposed to farm level disease management and are accessing relevant support services through the use of veterinary kits and trained veterinary assistants.

We are incredibly grateful and happy about this program and we are expecting to add a new site this year so we can help even more children.  Thank you from all of us in Zimbabwe!

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Organization Information

American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
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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