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2. Tanzania: Keeping chickens revived my life (by Lazarus Laiser for Farm Radio Weekly in Tanzania)

Mr. William Moikan Loibanguti wears the colourful red clothes of the Maasai tribe. He is a pastoralist and lives in Loosikito, near Arusha in Tanzania. Back in 2000, his cattle enterprise was already feeling the effects of climate change. With pasturelands drying up and little land available for farming, Mr. William decided to try paid employment. In 2000, he headed to Nairobi. He left his wife and child in their three-square-metremud house.

He worked in Nairobi for three years. He also spent time in Dar es Salaam. During six years away, his life changed completely. Mr. William became infected with HIV. He thought he was going to die, so he decided to go back home.

After one year back home, he was blessed with a baby boy. His wife Judica William took an HIV test. But she and the baby were HIV-negative.

Two years later, Mrs. William conceived again. This time she gave birth to a baby girl. Again, she and the baby took the HIV test. But they were not infected. Around this time, Mr. William started to feel weak. He discovered that he was suffering from tuberculosis, or TB. He remembers, “It was not easy. I felt guilty and suffered with pain when I got TB. People laughed at me, and my wife was crying a lot.”

The government hospital treated him free of charge. He recovered after six months.
Staff at the hospital advised him to join a group for HIV-positive people. Members of the group receive help from the government and education from various organizations.

In the group, Mr. William learned that he did not need to wait to die. He learned that if he kept himself healthy, he could live for a long time. He says, “I then said … I will die even if I was not affected. I should rise up and do something for my family before I die.”

Mr. William started to work hard. He found a job as a watchman in a shop. After six months he built a chicken house. Three months later he bought 10 chickens, which gave him 10 eggs per day. Mr. William sold the eggs. With the income, he was able to feed his family. But he decided to leave the job because he was losing weight. He was advised that his weight loss was due to lack of sleep and being cold during the night.

With his poultry business going well, Mr. William was soon able to buy a donkey. The donkey carries goods and fetches water for the family. He also bought two goats. These provide milk for the family. Then he started growing amaranth. This crop has a good market and brought him a lot of money. Amaranth also improved his diet as it contains iron and calcium. With the money he made, he bought sofas for his family.

Mr. William and his wife and four children now sleep well in a good house, modern by Maasai standards. The house is made ofwooden poles, and is roofed with iron. Thinking about how his life has changed in the last few years, he says, “I went to the church and said goodbye to my pastor. I knew I was going to die soon. But [since] I tried [keeping] chickens, I am still alive and I will not die soon.”

Mr. William is now a teacher and coordinator for HIV and AIDS awareness programs in Loosikito village.He runs seminars every week and visits people affected by HIV and AIDS.

Mr. William plans to build another chicken house and increase the number of chickens he raises. His wife is pleased with her husband’s project, saying, “He has brought hope to the family and not death.” They are happy that they can pay their children’s school fees without any problem. Smiling, Mrs. William says, “The family is protected and restored.”