06/11/2012 10:39 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An Exchange Between Farmers Builds Friendships and Strengthens Communities

One of the reasons why Project GRACE is so impressive is because of the support networks it creates between farmers living with HIV, which will contribute to the longevity of the project well after Just Like My Child Foundation completes its role in the project. Through these networks farmers share their practical knowledge with one another, help each other improve on their livestock rearing and agricultural production, and support each other to overcome the stigma of HIV and to stay healthy.

This past week, Project GRACE farmers from adjacent villages met in Bweyeyo village to share their successes and challenges.

Pictured above: Project GRACE farmers from three neighboring villages take a break in the home of Bweyeyo village resident, Teddy Nalweyiso.

Bweyeyo village resident Ssebisalu Paulo told visiting farmers that in order for them to benefit from Project GRACE as he did, they need to know the basics of feeding and caring for livestock. He also advised them to devote their time to the animals because it is a step to achieving the best results.

Initially, Ssebisalu was given three goats, two nannies (female goats) and a billy (male) goat, which produced six kids. The group marvelled at how he has expanded his project and manages to keep all the animals well fed and in clean pens: four goats, a dozen chickens, two pigs and over 10 piglets. He shared the importance of de-worming the animals regularly and also shared the secret of using residues of malwa, a local brew, as feed for the pigs. He said it is economical and that 1000 Ugandan shillings worth of the residue, about 40 cents, will last for three meals if they mix it with other feed. One of the biggest challenges many of the farmers have faced in this project is affording enough feed for their animals. Advice like this on alternative feed is invaluable to these farmers.

Ssebisalu's neighbor Veronica Nampa had a problem with the mother goat refusing to feed her kids. Veronica said so far she has lost two kids just because their mother refused to feed them. The group quickly advised her to use a specific type of plant to tap the udder, which will allow Veronica to forcefully feed the kids as she holds the mother goat's legs. Veronica, grateful for the advice, gave the others some advice of her own and told the group that using sundried peelings of potatoes, cassava and other foods have helped her boost the feeds for the goats.

Pictured right: Muwanga sits in the doorway of his goat house in the sky, as other farmers admire the house from below.

Yowasi Muwanga, the last exchange visit of the day, left the group mesmerized. He has built a pen for his goats and pigs with so much art and at such a height as if he had mountain goats. His homestead is immaculate, cleaner than anyone the group has seen before.

As lasting friendships develop among our farmers, you too can develop a relationship with Just Like My Child Foundation and our beneficiaries. Click here to support Project GRACE.