Provide Youth in Zimbabwe with Hope

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

In March, 40 of the Morning Star goats were moved across to Providence to develop a new multiplication centre to feed into a new community east of Bulawayo.  Thando and Keith have moved across and have both settled well.  We have plans to update their living quarters so that their families can join them here at Providence.  All the training and time Norma and Diamond have invested in them has been an incredible blessing, and trust that their knowledge and experience will continue as we expand the project.

We have build a few enclosures, one for the bucks and a maternity unit for the does when they kid. 

In June we had  a primary school visit the farm, the children got to see lots of different aspects to farm life, including how the project is designed to help vulnerable families in our community, and the goats loved having kids feed them treats from the greenhouses!! 

Our numbers have increased with the birth of 6 kids. Gary is organizing transport for 6 beneficiary does and Fred from Morning Star later this week!!  Sadly we have also had a few loses for first time moms, but hopefully they will do better next time round. 

We have also built a "milk bar” and I will start to experiment for cheese making when the volumes increase.  I am grateful for the milk that we are getting at the moment because we are supplementing a lamb that has been rejected by its mom.  

As we come to the end of our winter we look forward to the next batch of kids on the block!! 

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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The training on bee keeping was supposed to start at 9am but the trainers are no where to be seen. We find out a couple hours later that their truck got stuck in the mud somewhere along the way to the community center, due to the unceasing rains that have arrived in this area of the world. They finally arrive and teach a group of 28 community members about bees – how to build a hive, how to attract a swarm, the importance of honey to nature and to their own health, and all sorts of other important information.  The people are interested and they want to get into this business of bee keeping and of earning a bit of money.  This training is the beginning of a new AFCA project in the area of Matopos. It follows the goat project, allowing beneficiary families to go a step further in their quest to break out of abject poverty.

Ginny is here, peering over shoulders, trying to glimpse the bee hives that the trainer has brought as samples. It is hard for me to recognize her behind her mask, but when I approach her, I realize it isn’t only the mask that keeps me from knowing her immediately. The fact is, Ginny has changed. Five years ago, as one of our first goat beneficiaries in the area, Ginny was desperately poor. She was skin and bones, afraid, with shallow skin, and mismatched shoes. Her ripped clothes hung off of her and she shivered, as it was too cold and her clothing was just not enough. Today, though…

Today Ginny has gorgeous skin, smooth and filled out. No longer are her cheekbones hollow and she has enough clothes on (I didn’t see a single tear) and no longer looks old and defeated. She made sure to pay her gift of goats forward and “paid off” her contract one year ahead of time, thanks to a goat named Mary who kept giving birth to twins. She is obviously eating well and looks healthy. Smiling, she reported on her current herd and stated that she is ready to work with bees.

We finished the workshop by giving each attendee a bag of ePap (a fortified porridge), which was so gratefully accepted, humbling me at what gratitude looks like when there are no expectations and a much needed gift is extended. 

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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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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Organization Information

American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
Harrisburg, PA United States
$5,032 raised of $7,000 goal
 
112 donations
$1,968 to go
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