The lives of children living with HIV in Limpopo province took a new course after the introduction of goat milk into their morning meals. It was gathered that management of the school resorted to introducing goat milk in the pupils’ meal following signs of improvement after administration.
Vhutshilo Mountain School outreach handler Khathu Nemafhohoni said,
“The goats’ project is about food security and nutrition. Women living with HIV were struggling with breastfeeding their children because they were afraid of infecting them since the virus can be passed on in the milk.”
“We learnt that goat’s milk was more nutritious than formula, which is not always available at the clinics and is expensive to buy. So we did some research and spoke to farmers to find out more about goat’s milk”.
“We then got a goat so that the milk it produced could be used to feed the children as well as to sell for an income. Good nutrition is especially important for children especially those living with HIV. Goat’s milk is far superior in this regard to cow’s milk.”
Vhutshilo Mountain School in Tshikombani village, Vhembe in Limpopo province came to the aid of the sickening children when they bought a herd of goats to promote their health. The school now harbours a herd of goats for the initiative. Also, a benevolent donor offered to promote the initiative by offering to erect a fence and help with some money.
Following the success of the project, residents are beginning to enjoy healthier meals. Apart from the goat milk project, greater attention is being paid to the community garden. Till date, caregivers and pupils receive training on how to keep and run a food garden. Not only that, the project guarantees more money for the school, because it provides food for them. Plant seedlings from the school garden are also sold.
Observations from a local organization – the Centre for Positive Care (CPC) showed that many of the HIV positive pupils do not take good meals at home. Not only that, the local organization realized that HIV positive mothers have not been breastfeeding their new-born babies.
Reacting, the co-founder of the organization Susie Cooke opined that the organization seeks continuity and tangible results from the initiative. Hence, people who take care of HIV positive children were handed a mother goat, with the understanding that its first kid would be given to another caregiver.
Speaking about their first challenge, Susie Cooke said “initially we were worried about inter-breeding but we learned that you can use a ram for breeding for at least four years before you need to bring another one in. ”The workforce then learnt that breeding a Swiss Alpine ram guarantees an excellent high quality of milk.
“The initial goats were bought from another area and it was difficult for them to acclimatize, they ate the bark off trees and later died.