This project is competing for a share of $1,000,000 in bonus funds! *

Provide Youth in Zimbabwe with Hope

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Provide Youth in Zimbabwe with Hope
Fred
Fred

One of our goals with handing out goats to needy people is that their family nutrition will improve. Our first aim when we started the goat project we were trying to develop a stronger, bigger and meatier goat, as our local goats are quite small with little ‘meat’ on their bones.  In addition, they do not produce much more milk than what their babies’ need.  However, we noticed that some of the local does produced much more milk than others.  This got us thinking about introducing a dairy breed into our herd, and so Fred joined our family.

Our hope then was to produce not only a stronger and meatier goat, but also one that could produce more milk. We identified the does who seemed to be the best milk producers and have been breeding them with Fred. Our herd of milkers is growing! 

The community families have been interested to see how our ‘dairy’ is developing. When they have a few extra dollars or a bunch of vegetables to trade they are keen to buy our goat milk. We have been encouraging them to do the same with their goats. Some of the pregnant does that are handed out now are pregnant by Fred and hopefully if girls are born they will go on to become good milkers. 

We do not produce a lot of milk - a couple of pints a day when our best does are lactating, but it has been enough for our needs.  Some town folk discovered that we were producing goat milk and contacted me.  We have been supplying them when we can.  

One of our town recipients isTanisa and this is her story ... 

Greetings, everyone.  I am a mother to Devin, a very lively and bubbly two-year-old boy.  Devin has had eczema from birth.  Initially around his neck, and then progressing to his knees, elbows and wrists.  As a mother I felt so defeated after I tried all types of ointments, creams and body washes to ease his itchy flare ups and oozing skin, with no improvement.  I started researching diet and how changes can help with eczema.  At first I was very unsure because Devin’s favorite food could be the cause of his distress (and mine) – cow's milk.

Then I came across an article on goat's milk and to my surprise found that it has much more nutritional value than cow's milk.  This was a big plus for me as my son is a growing boy and needs all the nutrients he can get. I also learned that goat's milk has proteins that are easier to process and digest for eczema sufferers.  Plus it is also good for the gut.  After a lot of research and reading I began my search to find this miracle food.  I posted on our local social media group, as I could not find it in any of our local shops.  This is how I linked up with Norma who was able to come to my and Devin’s rescue!

I started by adding the milk to his oatmeal.  Normally after Devin eats oatmeal with cow's milk he would need his antihistamine syrup as he would start to scratch, but with the goat milk - no antihistamine!  We then moved to one cup of goat milk a day and, wow, no scratching, no tears, no flaking skin!   Dee now has his milk as often as he wants and goes out to play soon after, which was something he never did previously as he would be drowsy from the antihistamine.  Goat's milk has truly been a miracle for my son and has given me peace of mind knowing my son can still enjoy his milk without fuss and tears.

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. 

Tanisa and Devin
Tanisa and Devin
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Still in lockdown, semi-lockdown or just social distancing?   So much controversy about what we, our neighbors, community, government and world should be doing to protect, treat and rid ourselves of this pandemic.  One moment ‘this’ seems sensible, and the next moment ‘that’ makes more sense.  Reports from Zimbabwe are vague and many citizens don’t trust the reports, as our government seem to be using the virus as an excuse to control the distress that the lockdowns have caused.  While we are still in South Africa with no easy access to returning home yet, we are thankful for our church community back home, who have helped us with sourcing and delivering necessary items and salaries for the staff, on the farm, who are holding things together until we can get back. 

Meanwhile 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!  Nine kids have been born on the farm since we left in February for the USA, and many more in the beneficiary homes.  It has been hard missing all the new arrivals!  Fortunately the ‘Amigos’ send me regular updates and photos of how they are growing and developing. 

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.

Gardening has been continuing despite the bad drought.  Not a drop of water is wasted in the whole community.  It is too early for the hope of rain, but we are already praying for a good season this year.  Diamond shows a small crop of potatoes that he harvested from imported seed; the very tasty purple potato that Tanya introduced to us a few years ago.

Before we sign off, we would like to say thanks again to AFCA and all the generous donors who are enriching the lives of the vulnerable families in the Matobo community. 

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 is 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!

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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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.

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 end of year giving, 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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Mamas with big tummies are waddling around preparing to surprise us with a delivery or two!  Already this birthing time we have been presented with 11 babies.  In that number are included twins by our half Kalahari doe.  Bruce is the father, so we are getting closer to breeding pure Kalahari Red goats.  The twins, Henri and Mercy are also amongst the 11 and are a good size.  We anticipate they will be fine specimens when they are full-grown. 

Before we left for break there were two mamas, Marci and Demmy, who were obviously so close to delivery.  We were sure they would deliver before we left and so we visited them regularly, day and night, to see how they were doing and begging them to birth before we left.  The last thing we did before getting into the car, on the day we left, was to check on them once more – but nothing.   We were eager to meet these babies as they would be Fred’s first babies to be born since his arrival on the farm in March of this year.  No sooner did we arrive in town (a 90 minute drive) than I received a text saying BOTH of them had given birth!!!  Marci produced a whopping 8 pound doeling and Demmy presented us with a set of twins; a buckling weighing in at 6 ½ pounds and a girl at 6 pounds.  Well done Fred!  This will hopefully be the start of the milking herd.  In a little more than a year these two girls should be producing their own babies and therefore milk.  A number of does who are due to deliver soon are first timers.  It is good to be close by to help if necessary, although our assistance is seldom needed!

Last month we delivered to two further beneficiaries: Easy received Tess, Cocoa and Hobo, while Jabulani received Marty McFly, Toot Toot and Mango.  Jabulani had a smile from ear to ear when he visited us, a few  weeks after receiving his does, to tell us that they had all birthed and he now had eight goats!  In just over a month his herd more than doubled! 

As we entered our second year of our partnership with AFCA and the goat project (we had a herd of around 50 goats at that time with some does pregnant), I remember Tanya asking if we wanted to expand the herd.  Our reply was – ‘Not yet, let us get established with this number first, we still have a lot to learn.’  Well, we are into our third year and like it or not our herd has expanded to just under 100!  We are STILL learning and STILL have a lot to learn, but it has been a fun time with some heartaches along the way, but so many more highs than lows.  Meeting the folks who join AFCA’s visiting teams has been a definite high, making friends that often feel like family by the time they leave.  Sharing what we are doing with the teams and their enthusiasm refreshes us for the harder days we face.  Right now, our major concern is the drought and the scarcity of water in our region. 

One of the challenges we had to face with a larger herd was staffing.  We needed to employ another man for the goat team and asked Keith to join us.  He lives on the border of the ranch and is the son of a lady, Emma, who we often ask to help in the camp when we have visiting teams with us.  Talking of additional helpers, we had a young man spend a few days with us and he asked if there was something he could do to help us.  NEVER do you ask me that question unless you seriously want to help!  Micah Witherow sat for several days updating the goat records, from the simplest of data collection to the more ‘interesting’ activity of creating new records following buck and doe progeny.  LOTS of work!  He did a great job as I had not been able to fully update the records since the start of our teams arriving in June. 

Thanks for taking the time to share our triumphs and challenges.  Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts as we struggle through this dry time towards the hope of early rains.

Finally, I read this today and felt there is a lot of truth in it, so I share it with you! 

A great thinker was asked, ‘What is the meaning of life?’  He replied, ‘Life itself has no meaning, it is an opportunity to create a meaning.’

Be strong, be kind and create meaning in your life!

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. 

Micah Hard at Work Doing Administration
Micah Hard at Work Doing Administration
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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
* This project is competing for a share of $1,000,000 in bonus funds!
through the #GivingTuesday 2020. Terms and conditions apply.

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