VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: JODI WINFINDALE
Seeing the world through another’s eyes is a life-altering experience and for mother of eight, Jodi Winfindale, that experience involves travelling to Zimbabwe with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA).
Winfindale has been a volunteer with AFCA since 2012 when she was recruited by Tanya Weaver, who runs the organization. Since then, she has been active in different AFCA programs, including Vacation with a Purpose, where volunteers donate their time to help local communities in third-world countries like Zimbabwe.
“Going to a third world country where there is no reliable electricity or running water is really moving,” Winfindale said. “Volunteering with AFCA is really cool; it definitely takes you out of your comfort zone. It definitely takes you out of yourself, but it allows you to grow and learn things you never knew you would.”
Since working with AFCA, Winfindale has visited Zimbabwe five times. Along with building houses and schools and doing other acts of service, Winfindale works side by side with Weaver, helping start up dairy goat breeding programs in Zimbabwe. She mostly works with children orphaned by AIDS and those who care for them.
Many of the families who participate in these training sessions, Winfindale says, are orphaned children and their grandmothers. Since most young adults leave their communities to work in the city, these children are left with no one after their elderly grandparents pass away, leaving them to provide for themselves and their younger siblings.
According to Winfindale, the breeding programs run by AFCA have been quite successful. In its first year, AFCA provided 100 families with three goats per family. As part of the program, each family is given three pregnant goats to keep and care for. Those participants who raise animals vow not to sell or butcher them for three years. Instead, these children and grannies are taught to vaccinate and care for the goats, breed them and sell dairy products for income. After these three years, they pass on three goats back to AFCA from the herd they had formed. These three goats are then given to another trained and waiting family. This is done to keep the project self-sustaining so that the community can continue to grow.
Besides animals, AFCA also donates seeds for families to start personal gardens, from where they can eat vegetables and fruit while their goats mature and their herd grows bigger. Goat manure is also used as a fertilizer and the families have seen great success with this project.
Winfindale finds her work is most rewarding when she returns back to the villages each year and is able to see the progress the children have made with their goats. For them, it is not only a business but a way of life and providing for their families. The money they make not only betters themselves but also helps pay for their education and livelihood.
“It definitely has a place in my heart, and I have a love for it,” Winfindale says.
She plans on continuing her efforts with AFCA and is travelling to Kenya this year.