Hard Times Are a Thing of The Past for One Family in Zimbabwe
Small livestock production has proved to have the most immediate and pronounced impact on income, food and livelihood security. For families caring for vulnerable children, growth in small livestock production reflects transformation from subsistence to more diverse income generating activities or even graduating to commercial types of livelihoods activities. Firelight partner Masvingo Community Based HIV/AIDS and Vulnerable Children Organization (MACOBAO) operates a small livestock breeding program in Zimbabwe. The program ensures that families have better access to markets.
They train families in livestock production to help them achieve a sustainable income and food security. MACOBAO shared the following story of one of their beneficiaries, Angeline, whose parents died in 2009 leaving her with four young sisters and three brothers. In total they are a family of eight. As the elder sister, Angeline is responsible for providing school fees, food, clothing and financial resources for the siblings to access health services.
Angeline’s story of change
“When I joined the MACOBAO project, I initially thought that they were wasting my time and nothing was going to come of it. I attended their several community trainings and gatherings. They always told our group to identify and come up with possible sustainable projects that could bring change and long lasting solutions to address the challenges faced by families caring for vulnerable children. It was one day when MACOBAO linked us with the local Agricultural Extension Officer. The officer gave us a lecture on small livestock breeding and general animal husbandry training. This lecture knocked some sense in my mind when I heard that rabbits multiply so easily in large numbers with little labor and resources.
He told us that what is simply needed is a safe environment, well ventilated, warm and free from other harmful domesticated animals like dogs. He also told us that rabbits could be raised from fresh farm produce (vegetables, pumpkins) and other grass species. This meant that I could raise more rabbits using locally available resources and at no cost. It is the rabbits, which were donated by MACOBAO with the financial support from Firelight Foundation that is the pillar of my family’s strength to provide for my fellow siblings. Purchased with the funding from Firelight Foundation in May 2012, the 2 rabbits (a male and a female) have already produced 32 off springs. I passed on the first batch of 12 rabbits reproduced to the next 6 orphaned children as agreed at the outset of the project. I realized that with proper care and adequate feeding, the rabbits reproduce after each and every 3 months at an average of 8 to 12 off-springs.
I sold 9 small off springs to other community members and raised $81 in January 2013, January used to be the toughest month in my life as schools and shops hike their fees and levies, for basic commodities to compensate loses from promotions during festive season. I managed to pay school fees for my 2 young brothers doing Grade and Form 4. I also managed to provide their exercise books, ball points and covers. Now I can count on regular attendance in school among my sisters. Communities are now admiring us and hard times are a talk of the past. There is happiness in the family and even our neighbors are now respecting us for we can now depend on our selves. No more begging! Apart from the household income we get rabbit meat and rabbit manure for our vegetable garden. This has improved our nutrition and disposable income.
On behalf of MACOBAO’s project beneficiaries, I want to thank Firelight Foundation and its funders for the heartfelt support to all of us. Your passion for vulnerable children is recognized through the hard work from your grantee partner MACOBAO and your continued support.”
Funding from Firelight enables MACOBAO to reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and families in their community. It helps them to meet the basic needs necessary for children to grow and develop while developing long lasting solutions.
Timothy Manyemba, Executive Director of MACOBAO and Firelight grantee-partner since 2008 contributed to this blog.