HIV-positive women in the Siganda area of Bubi district of Matabeleland North on Wednesday launched a cattle fattening project aimed at assisting orphaned and elderly women in the district.
The Silenjongo Trust, which has one man, was set up in April 2005 with the initial aim of raising funds to buy a truck to ferry their members to clinics when they fell ill or to collect medication. At its inception, Silenjongo Trust was involved in growing vegetables on small gardens and ventured into poultry.
Years later, a sewing project was started with eight machines procured using a loan and candle making as well as grinding mill projects, followed.
Now the group has ventured into cattle pen fattening.
Silenjongo Trust vice-chairperson Sicolekile Sibanda told Southern Eye at the launch that they would start with six beasts with a view to increase the herd for resale.
“We bought six beasts using funds from other projects and with the assistance of World Vision. We would be pen-fattening the cattle for resale and buy other beasts,” she said.
“At present we are paying school fees for three orphans at Hawuke Primary School and we built two homesteads for two elderly women born in 1924 and 1926.”
The beasts were bought in Inyathi area at a cost of $500 each.
“Our prime vision is to expand the project. We hope to establish business relations with Cold Storage Commission and other private cattle buyers,” she said.
“Our motivation is that men from other wards are now emulating us and setting up similar pen-fattening projects.”
The vegetable project is being done at Hawuke Primary School, which made available a piece of land and they installed a water pumping engine.
On the cattle project the group is being assisted by Agritex officials with the technical knowhow of raising the beasts.
The group built feedlots for the cattle, which could accommodate close to 100 beasts.
Group members thanked the community for its assistance since Silenjongo’s inception.
During the launch villagers from as far as koNkosikazi, keen to learn from the project, heaped praise on Silenjongo Trust.
Bhekisani Ndlovu said they were impressed with the cattle project.
“In the coming months we would also be starting a similar undertaking hence our presence here to learn from Silenjongo Trust” he said.
Bubi Rural District Council assisted Silenjongo Trust project by making land available for their projects.
Area councillor Elliot Gwayi said they encouraged such undertakings in the area.
“There are hardly employment opportunities here, but when villagers come up with such innovative income-generating projects, council would assist where it can,” he said.
Several village heads attended the colourful event.