The day we arrived in Swaziland, I felt something like Tom Hanks in the movie “The Terminal”… except we didn’t even have the crackers and ketchup to snack on. We arrived at the border crossing after a flight that was disastrous including a 10 hour layover in Washington DC with 5 smiles and 7 computers for the primary school only to be told that our primary school doesn’t exist in their system and we weren’t allowed to pass through to Swaziland until we had someone from the school come to the border crossing with letterhead stamped by someone at the Ministry of Education and a tax clearance code. This, however, would be impossible until the next day, because the school at this time was already closed. I thought we were doomed to spend the night in between two 25 foot tall metal fences – not quite in South Africa, yet not quite in Swaziland. I asked our driver/friend, Amilcare, what he thought our chances were of speeding past the policemen unnoticed – he said he wasn’t willing to risk the chance of being beaten up to find out and the girls agreed. So, we were stuck.
Then Amilcare devised a brilliant plan and we left our friend, Frank, at the border with the computers and drove to elangeni school to see if we could find anyone who could help us – of course there was nobody there except for a few cows who looked too busy trying to find something to eat to lend a helping hoof. Then, like a mirage, our friend and the headmaster of the secondary school drove by! I have never been so happy to hug a sweaty man in all of my life! He made a few phone calls to customs, said a few words about his American friends, and poof – our troubles disappeared. We drove back to the border to find a tired and cold Frank (sorry about that Frank!!) and 7 computers waiting for us. There went an entire day, but at least we made it though with all of the computers for the primary school.
Today (the second day) was one for the record books. We were invited back to the secondary school and of course as soon as we get there the headmaster rings what sounds like a tornado drill and all 620 students come running to line up. Then he talks about how their American friends have returned, as they have been doing for many many years, to see them and do whatever they could to help (THAT’S US!!). J He asked if I had a few words to say. I said hello, and all 620 students giggled. Then I said that I was so happy to see all of them again (more giggles). I told them that we would love for them to come find us throughout the day and say hi and tell us more about them (giggles). I found out later that they think I have a funny accent!
Afterward, we got a tour of the school. I LOVE partnering with this school because the headmaster is so proactive and amazing. Since the last time I was here, they have hired a dance choreographer and have won numerous national dance competitions, formed a marching band complete with amazing uniforms, started a goat research project with their seniors, and built a basketball court for competitive games played with neighboring high schools. We even got to watch the school practice for their national dance competition that starts tomorrow (we were invited by some of our orphans and of course will be in the front row hooting and hollering and embarrassing the poop out of them!!!!).
We then went to the primary school to deliver the computers. They were all brand new and amazing! (Thank you Pam, Amilcare, and Sean for your generosity in helping us find such a great deal in South Africa!) They had a room that just received electricity access all set up for us with 7 tiny desks and 7 tinier chairs. I cant wait to see the adorable kids who fit in those chairs using the computers made possible by the GHFP donors! The entire school staff came in to look in awe at the computers. Then the Chief showed up with a village elder. This woman is my idol – such a giving selfless woman! She said she just wanted to have a small ceremony to show the village’s appreciation for the computer lab. She said that although they have nothing to give us in return, that she is certain that God will do so. She continued on for many minutes speaking of how generous we are and how I have been around for many years delivering every promise I have made. She called me the children’s angel a couple of times, and then thanked us 99 more. It is awful being the recipient of such heartfelt gratitude as Kait and I are simply the middle men. We were not the donors of the $5,000 computer lab, or any other expensive program we will be implementing this month. This computer lab was only made possible by the generosity of others – the “others” who should be hearing this gratitude first hand!
Once again I hear the same thing “we are hungry”. When my kids tell me that, it breaks my heart and the only remedy is pizza. I told the kids we would pick up the Maziya’s (3 child headed household orphans) and take them to the Msibi’s (3 child headed household orphans) and pig out on pizza and pepsi. When we got there, the kids were ready! They were eating so intently that our friend Amilcare came in to check on us because we were so quiet “it sounded like a funeral”. After dinner though, it was all laughter and smiles. We played multiple rounds of some card game Sizo taught us that had to do with not matching the card suits or else you have to pick up the pot. Whenever someone got stuck with the pot little Mazwi laughed and smiled like I didn’t even think he could. I prayed every time it was my turn that I would have to take the pot, even though it would mean I lost the game, just to see that smile again. I swear that if Mazwi would laugh if I dressed up in a hot dog suit and jumped off of a building into a pool of ketchup, I would do it… twice. I am certain that’s my favorite sight in the entire world. And I get to see it again tomorrow. I’m a lucky girl.