Guest Post By: Samantha Shpeller, ECHO East Africa Intern
Apaikunda is a mother of seven in the village of Ngyeku in Tanzania. Her husband has passed away, leaving her to care for the younger four of seven children on her own. In order to provide for them, Apaikunda works as a weeder for other people, as she does not own any land herself. The eldest three of her seven children have moved out of the house, living independently, one of whom is a brick maker (image below). In addition to the challenges of being a single parent, Apaikunda is living with HIV.
Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a disease that weakens people’s immune systems by destroying T-cells. These cells are an important component of the body’s defense system against infections. Therefore, someone living with HIV has a hard time fighting off infections which enter their body. One way to help manage HIV is to ensure you eat a healthy diet, keeping the body as nourished as possible.
Apaikunda was recruited by Safara, a Ngyeku village leader, to participate in this project. As a member of the village, she could identify the most vulnerable people more accurately than an outsider.
Upon being recruited, Apaikunda attended trainings conducted by ECHO on how to care for dairy goats. She now regularly attends group discussion’s lead by Safara for project participants in Ngyeku where farmers discuss problems they have encountered and how to manage them. At the end of training, Apaikunda was gifted a female Irish dairy goat, sponsored by Bothar. The Irish dairy goats normally produce 3-4 times more milk than the local breeds. Apaikunda’s goat is currently pregnant. She pointed out the goat’s big belly to the survey team with optimism. Apaikunda and her neighbour combined resources to build a shelter for their goats together.
Following the birth of her goat kid, the project goat will begin producing milk which Apaikunda can use as a source of food, helping her to maintain a healthy body and manage HIV. Additionally, the goat kids can be sold for income or kept as additional food supply for the family. Apaikunda is hopeful that income generated from the project will help to cover school fees and to help her make necessary repairs to her home.
Currently, a team of interns from Sokoine University of Agriculture, the University of Winnipeg and ECHO are collaborating to conduct a survey to collect baseline data about the project recipients. The purpose is to allow for a study in a few years to evaluate the project again to measure the project impact over time. This survey also allows for the farmers to provide feedback to the project as to how things are going thus far.