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
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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Training in Conservation Farming
Training in Conservation Farming

It is with deep sadness that I read a report about the food situation in Zimbabwe.  Here it is:  I have a hard time understanding how some of us have so much and others have so little. It is hard to wrap my head around the fact that children will be hungry while we throw food away and complain because we want more choices. 

But, there is a silver lining around my thoughts - because of you and of AFCA, there are 628 orphaned families who are eating this season and they are eating balanced meals, at that.  That means, there are over 3100 children and guardians that get up in the morning to milk their goats, gather eggs from under their chickens and who gather vegetables from their gardens.  Yes, times will be tough for them with little water, but, with planning and proper mulching and water conservation, I trust they will all get through this next drought healthfully and full. 

What about the other children, though?  There are 1,800,000 orphans in Zimbabwe and all of them should eat.  None of them should perish due to lack of food.  Now is the time to do more, to dig deeper and to help out the others.  AFCA is expanding our programs to include two more villages in Zimbabwe, but we need your help (and that of your friends) to make it possible.  We'd like to purchase and deliver more goats, chickens, guinea fowl, seeds, and hope.  Will you help us?  Let's rally together during this last part of the year and do more for more children.  This will be the cry of my heart as we march into the holiday season - let's give kids on the other side of the world the chance to celebrate life, too. 

We are taking our first volunteer team to Zimbabwe in June 2014.  We'll be finishing the construction of a school and will be building arborloos.  Come join us, visiting this magnificent country and see what you've helped us accomplish.  If you are interested in being part of a Volunteer with a Purpose team, email me at and check out our website (VWP tab) to find out more.  We have space for 16 people - why not be one of them?  Families welcome.

Conservation Farming Works!!
Conservation Farming Works!!
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Mr. and Mrs. Dube with their garden
Mr. and Mrs. Dube with their garden

I just returned from Zimbabwe last night and while I am tired, I am also exhilarated. I visited families who received livestock and seeds last year and who are now watching their herds and gardens grow. I was hugged and kissed and made to feel like a family member. I hugged and kissed back and held babies and vaccinated goats. I attended trainings and counted new babies added to flocks and herds (14 new kids this past month and countless rabbits). I passed out photos I took last year and watched as my friends danced and clapped at seeing themselves in a photo. The smiles of joy were amazing to watch and to hold on to.

One of the families that took my heart are in the photographs with this report. They are elderly, as you can see. They are raising EIGHT orphaned children, ranging from 3 years old to 16 years old. Together, the family is working the land to work a small set of gardens where they grow veggies for themselves. They also are raising the goats we gave them and to date, they have 5 in their herd, with one pregnant goat about to give birth.

With his ripped sweater and pants and scary cough (we need to see what is happening there), Mr. Dube is all smiles, as is his wife, whenwe conduct a spot visit to their humble dwelling. He proudly shuffles to their garden (he is 83!) to show me what is going on there.  I see that the garden is nicely mulched and congratulate them on a job well done. The couple smiles and says that they do it for and with the children, as they want them to have a better life.  They all eat better now - greens, oranges, yellows, and whites on their plates each day.

I am humbled by our visit to the Dube family. I am touched by their love for the children and for the hard work they do to care for them. When I thought my feeling of fullness was all I could feel, I hear Mrs. Dube say to her husband as she looks at the photo I give them, "Tanya loves us". I turn to her and say "oh, yes, I do". We hug. I get back into the truck and with a tear in my throat, wave an "I'll see you soon" wave out the window.

My heart is full.

Dubes with two of the children in their care
Dubes with two of the children in their care
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Phides Ncube is an elderly guardian who is 83 years old.  She's lives her life working the land and doing odd jobs, making sure her kids grew up healthfully and decently.  As the years went by and her country changed drastically, she found herself looking around for hope.  With a massive drought, fields died and animals perished.  Children had to leave to search for work. Some died. Some never looked back.

Now, at 83, Phides is looking after Praise Chikondo who is 16 years and Tabiso Sibanda, who is 9 years old.Tabiso’s father died 6 years ago while Praise’s father also died 6 years ago.  Their mothers are gone, as well and Phides took them into her home to give them what they need to survive and grow, just as she did with her own children.  Tragically, though, there isn't much to give and the three have been hungry for a long time.  The children have been pulled out of school due to lack of fees, uniforms and books.

Phides says she is suffering from painful knees and that the constant hunger is a big challenge. This year, this small family found hope.  HOPE, in capital letters.  We gave them 3 goats. What can three goats do, really?  Well, when they are pregnant, as these three were, they produce milk to drink and baby goats to grow a herd.  They produce manure to grow the seeds we gave the family so that their gardens will produce vegetables. Yes, three goats = HOPE.

Now that the rains have come on Zimbabwe, there is plenty of feed for the goats and water to drink. This is the opportune time for the pregnant goats to grow and produce milk and babies.  When we asked Tabiso about the meaning of this gift, he said "These goats will educate us. The milk is very nice and makes the tea very thick.”

As a mom, I know I like it when my children find comfort in the simple things of life and Tabiso has done just that..."the milk makes the tea very thick".

I love it when a dream works out this way and when a group of strangers works together to help a child on the other side of the world return to school and to find comfort in his cup of tea.

Thank you.

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In Africa, we don't refer to rain as simply "rain".  For some reason, we call it "the rains".  I don't know why this is, but maybe it is because the rains have such power over people.  If there is no rain, crops fail, animals die and people starve.  But, if the rains are too hard, the earth is too dry to take the onslaught of water and erosion occurs, crops are squashed under the weight of the water, and the suffering continues.

Right now, in Zimbabwe, this is exactly what happened.  After such a long time of drought and dry, dry, DRY weather, the skies opened up and the RAINS came down.  They came and they came and they came.  While the maize flats were flattened, the rivers and dams are being filled.  Where the earth hasn't been eroded, bits of green is shooting up, giving livestock something to chew on.  These are some happy little goats, rabbits, guinea fowl and chickens, let me tell you!  Finally, green to eat! They will produce more milk now than at any other time of the year, and for that, we are grateful.  And, they will drop manure to be used in the gardens, which is a blessing.  All in all, the rains are bringing life back to many.

It's wild, this cycle in life.  Everything in moderation, seems to be the cry.  Yes, we need the rains, but we need them to come in bits and pieces, not in a huge downpour, day in and day out.  We don't know if we should cry or dance.  We have rains, which gives us water, which we desperately need.  But, we also have devastation, erosion and homeless as their houses were washed away.  We take the rains, as we take much of what comes our way - with gratitude mingled with hurt for those who hurt.

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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
$22,631 raised of $25,000 goal
352 donations
$2,369 to go
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