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Another day of flooding. Anne and I went jogging to see how bad it was… it just will not stop raining here and Mbabane has no drainage system so the water just sits… EVERYWHERE. Cars are stranded on streets and there is no running water because one of the pipes downtown is broken so everyone is out of water. Anne and I picked a good day to go jogging and not be able to shower. Cedza took us to the market to see if we could get some bottled water to shower with but all of the economy-sized water containers were sold out, so we are going to have to shower with a million little liter bottles. Hilarious.

Baylor Medical Center in Texas has been branching out around Swaziland. We got to tour the Pediatric HIV hospital today in Mbabane and we saw a second facility that is currently being built in Manzini. The physician told us that there are 8 remote sites currently being constructed due to the success of the first site in Mbabane. When we toured, we met many US doctors who came for a year to work in the clinic. It is incredibly heart-wrenching. In Swaziland (like many developing countries), although ARVs (anti-retroviral “cocktails”) are provided for free by the government, people do not have access to them until their CD4 count goes below a level of 200. At this time, a person is considered to no longer just have HIV, but full-blown AIDS and it is also this time that the person can no longer fight off infections/diseases and typically have opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis. In comparison, in the US, HIV victims start treatment when their CD4 levels are at or above 350. This prolongs their viability and dramatically postpones the time which they will contract full-blown AIDS thereby allowing them to maintain a higher quality of life for a much longer period of time.

Of course I knew this from my courses, but seeing a skin-and-bones infant no older than 6 months old on life support, being tube fed through their nose, and barely clinging to life really puts a face on HIV. At this time it is no longer just a statistic in a textbook but a human life struggling to hang on. Very sad. They said that their PMTCT (Prevention of mother to child transmission) during labor is quite high (80-90%) but many of the children then contract the disease through breastfeeding. Although the alternative, dying of malnutrition due to the lack of money to afford formula, is another tragedy.

Today we went to Elangeni to say goodbye to the village people we have been closely working with and interviewing since the Purdue undergrads are going to be returning to the US on Saturday. Elangeni put on a goodbye celebration complete with singing, dancing, and HIV-related skits. Afterward, when we were saying goodbye to our Child-headed household, Ashela gave the 12year old girl a My Little Pony coloring book and crayons and the little girl cried and said it was the nicest thing she had ever received. It is hard to believe that these children are so grateful for the littlest things when the kids in the US these days demand Ninento Wiis and Cell Phones or they refuse to believe in Santa anymore.

One of the families we visited has 5 generations living on the same homestead. There is one great-great-grannie, 2 great grandmothers, 7 grandmothers, 20 mothers and 100 children. It is really a miracle to see. The great-great-grannie wanted a fence around her farm so that her chickens and the neighbors goats would stop eating the food they grow to feed their large family. So, we went and purchased fencing wire and the neighborhood men chopped down logs for us and we all helped to put up a fence!! (well, in all fairness, I mostly was involved in supervising as I was in a dress and the fence was dirty) But, it WAS completed and the great-great-grannie said that if her late husband was alive, he would NEVER have believed to see a group of white people working for them.

25th birthday!!!!:

Sandla children playing at the park !! :

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