I woke up this morning thinking of Mazwi’s tiny bedside table. It had at least 8 bottles of pills he must consume multiple times everyday, mainly for his HIV. I woke up wondering if he knows why he takes the pills. Dr. Sarah at Baylor said that they suggest to parents to not tell the children until they are 10 years old so they can stay children for as long as possible…unaware that they are sick. Then, on their birthday, they will attend Baylor’s weekend retreat for HIV positive teens called Teen Club (we get to volunteer at the July Baylor Teen Club retreat next Saturday!).
Has Samkelo told Mazwi? Will Mazwi be scared since he watched both parents get very sick and die from the same disease? How much does he know about what will eventually happen to him? He is by far the most precious and sweet boy I have ever met in my entire life. Kait and I have been pouring our personal money into this nonprofit over the last year and working nights/weekends around our full time paying jobs to organize programs for our kiddos. Yet all of it is worth it when I see the children smile. Especially little Mazwi since it happens far too rarely. I would trade my life if that meant he could live long, happy, and healthy. Gladly. Every single time, whether I am here or in the US, that I think of his limited future I cry.
Today we had a dance party with our children. 12 of the older kids were meeting us at the party, but we went to fetch Mazwi, Pilo and their 8yr old neighbor friend from their homestead. When I got there Mazwi was doing his laundry from the past week in a small basin outside and hanging it all to dry. Then I saw an enormous pile of firewood that they woke up early to fetch in the nearby forest all alone. When I asked Pilo how she got it all home by themselves, she matter of factly told me that she carried it on their head. I am always impressed with how amazing the children truly are – they can do everything for themselves at SUCH a young age! One of my Swazi friends asked them if they are ever scared of going into the forest alone and Pilo said that she is scared of all of the snakes. He suggested that she watch very carefully in the bushes as sometimes “thugs” will hide and rape young girls. I hate that I cannot be here full time to protect them. Why are a young 14 year old girl and her small 9 year old brother having to fend for themselves in such a scary and hard world? I am absolutely proud of their independence but often I wish they could just be children – playful, happy, and carefree as I was so blessed to be growing up.
Finally, we arrive late (swazi-style) to the dance party and it was SO much fun!! We had our flat-mate (THANKS SEBASTIAN!!) burn us a CD of local techno music as well as some USA favorites (Chris Brown (the kids all have a crush on him), Usher, and the Call me Maybe song. The kids were teaching us some moves, and we were teaching them some ridiculous white girl moves. :) Little Mazwi and his neighbor friend who tagged along kept sneaking off behind the house to practice and synchronize some moves and then they came out pelvic thrusting and moving their little legs Elvis Presley style. I haven’t ever seen anything cuter in my life. Then Baby T and Hannock (our dance choreographer friends) showed up and our girls went wild! I guess they are somewhat famous here in Swaziland. And I must admit, they really know how to work a crowd… the girls were drooling, staring, and imitating their every move.
Thinking about how Monday is Katy and Amber’s last day here, I know my time too is limited. I have been finding myself constantly thanking God for giving me the chance to love this much for the last 5 years… I cannot imagine my life without these incredible children!