One of the disappointing events of the trip, was the unsuccessful drilling
of a borehole on our land.
We are heavily reliant
on water for irrigation, livestock care and hygiene, and Wilmslow Wells, another UK charity, funded the drilling programme for us.
The initial survey’s results were inconclusive, but with so much anecdotal evidence about abundant water in the area, we eagerly awaited its arrival. However, having drilled through 46mtrs of granite, it came up dry, and we were all stunned and disappointed. After discussions with the Village Chief, permission was granted to
re-drill in other areas, but in the end, we had to abandon the attempt.
So a borehole looks unlikely - a tragedy for the local villagers.
Friends in the UK kindly donated a small incubator to help hatch the Black Austrolope eggs laid by our hens. This breed produces good big eggs, but are reluctant to hatch them. With electricity so erratic it was a major task, but we managed to successfully hatch some chicks, and have left the incubator for staff to continue to breed more.
Spurred on by the enormous challenge of hunger and nutrition, we started a rabbit project, for meat, both to enhance diet and develop into an income-generating activity, for the poor and frail. Many more people are now confirming their HIV+ status, and this programme will be especially beneficial to this growing group as rabbits need little energetic care, just regular food and careful handling.
We’re building up a dairy herd of goats, breeding for milk yield, and In due course, the Milk Programme will be implemented into the villages, replacing the Play Centres. This will provide local life-saving milk to orphaned babies, and AIDS-affected, and other malnourished youngsters.
As home assessments are completed, we’ll establish “milk runs” into the remote areas for the most acutely vulnerable.
One difficulty faced by many is the weaning of AIDS-affected babies. To minimise risk of cross-infection, health officials instruct mums who are HIV+ to cease breast-feeding abruptly at 6 months - not a problem in the west, but almost unheard of in this part of Africa where over 70% breastfeed for at least 2 years.
Babies are dying through ignorance of nutritional requirements in a rural society that for many generations seems to have drifted into weaning late to avoid yet another mouth to feed.
So we’re hoping to help with a Weaning Programme, a month-long revolving plan, using our nutritious goats’ milk, fortified phala (porridge), and introducing lots of new tastes and textures along the way.
A good balanced diet is essential to run alongside AIDS treatment, but that is a rare commodity in these remote areas. The AIDS pandemic is still growing, but voluntary testing is also increasing and ARV’s are becoming more readily available - if you can afford the transport to the hospital to collect them!
We have an AIDS support group running weekly meetings in our Training Hall, led by one of our staff. Further south, where our 2nd office is, the area is now regarded as the worst affected area in the country. Figures of 70% HIV+, are generally accepted, the high incidence means there’s little stigma there anymore.
Prostitution to buy food for hungry families appears to be the main cause.
Training is a vital key in capacity building, so in our purpose-built Training Hall we hosted courses in nutrition, agriculture, manure production, agro-forestry and group dynamics for local farmers, in both theory and practical demonstration in the field.
During this early trip, Jenny and Wyn came to visit us for a couple of weeks.They had a busy fortnight.
Wyn is a retired nurse, and lectured on basic nutrition, especially helping the participants to understand the nutritional needs of children.
Jenny, in the past has trained our Play Centre staff in nursery teaching, and this time hosted a childrens’ party, with lots of fun, stories, balloons and simple treats, all alien to this disadvantaged culture. They also sorted and distributed clothing, and even found a few moments to relax ......
It was an exciting though challenging time in the goat department.
Their khola (goat-house) took months to refurbish, but all is now complete and they have protected pens and a hygienic cement floor.
This led to problems of how to feed the kids - no milk supplement here! We had to resort to UHT cows’ milk, topped up for the smallest with diluted baby formula - these young ones are the future of our milking herd!
Up to the time we left, 11 kids had been born, 7 of which were female, (Lacey is pictured here at 3 days old) with one goat still to give birth.
However, this time wasn’t without its difficulties, we lost one goat in premature labour, and then “Snowy” our prime saanen milker mysteriously died after giving birth to three healthy kids several weeks earlier.
This is page 2 Summer trip 2010