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January 3rd
I haven’t posted in 3 days now!  Too busy…and exhausted.
I awoke this morning and the first thing on my mind was Mazwi.  When I called Philo she said it still hurt and the swelling was now bruising and expanding.  When I called my doctor friend, she said to bring him into Baylor immediately and she would allow me to bypass the line and she’d see him as soon as we got there.  “Immediately” is an absurd word in Swaziland.  Nothing even happens “moderately quickly” let alone at the speed of light.  By the time the team got ready and Amilcare woke up, an hour had already past.  Then, he drove me to the kids house 30 minutes away but since they were late for a meeting as well, I had them drop me at the highway which means I had an additional 35 minute walk.  2 hours doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things but the entire time I kept imagining the swelling affecting Mazwi’s airways and I couldn’t get there fast enough!  When I reached the house, the kids were bathing.  Going into town is a big deal for our kiddos!  I hurried the kids and we got to Mbabane as fast as possible, by hitchhiking. In the car I glanced over and saw Philo’s bracelet.  We left her letter beads and bracelet-making materials last night (Thanks Leslie!!) and she had since created a masterpiece that said “I love God so very much”.  The faith these kids have despite their situations is admirable!  

Once we got to Baylor, the doctor had to get a translator and she discovered that Mazwi’s rash began after he bathed in an unknown river and the swelling occurred after he was stung by a wasp when he was climbing a tree to pick a mango.  Philo so brilliantly told her that the rash began “three rains ago” and that the swelling was the worst “on the last full moon”. Imagine not having a clock or a calendar and still being able to distinctively describe time – I am always in awe of GHFP amazing kiddos! After prescribing Mazwi some Benadryl and alerting him that he is very allergic to wasp stings and he should not be climbing for mangoes – we were on our way.  As I was leaving the clinic, my gaze kept scanning the unsuspecting youngsters waiting to see the doctor.  They all think they are healthy and will be alerted about their HIV-positive status around their 10th birthday.  I wish they could remain oblivious forever – what a horrible death sentence to have to bear at such a young age.   

We traveled to KFC to get the kids some lunch, and then to the mall to get them school shoes and uniforms.  By that time, the team was finished in Malindza at the Anti-baby dumping walk and we met to run to the movie with the eLangeni High School sponsored students.  For many it was their very first movie and introduction to popcorn, pizza, and slushies! One mentioned that he would remember this forever and it reminded him of when his parents were alive and used to spoil him on Christmas.  Another student alerted us today that he was 23 years old.  His parents died 5 years ago at which time he was forced to drop out of school.  We only became aware of his situation this year when we offered to enter him into our program.  He said it was the greatest thing that has ever happened to him and he wants to make us proud. 

After distributing school shoes, hygiene packs, school supplies, cell phones, and bus fare to get home – we departed to meet with the headmaster at the secondary school.  He showed us that the fencing materials we purchased had been delivered and they’d already started working on the land they have given to us to farm/plant the trees.  This fence will keep the cattle and goats in the village from eating our produce we are growing with the Power of One and Foodom grants to feed the 1259 children at the primary and secondary schools.  Thank goodness for all of our amazing volunteer participants on the ground in Swaziland…our work would be impossible without you! 

As we’re preparing to leave for America in the morning, I am reminded that I cannot be here if the kids need me.  We were alerted by our friend Baby T today that Mazwi was once again climbing the tree in search of a mango as soon as he got home from Baylor!  With no such thing as an epi pen or ambulance – we can only hope that he does not have a more serious allergic reaction while we are gone.   I’ll write a summary of our trip’s accomplishments when I return to the states but for the next 35 hours I will be on a plane and the subsequent 14 in a car driving to Denver only to work the next day.  Yes, if I am not already crazy it is likely that this past year will soon send me over the edge… working full time as a teacher in a high needs school and volunteering full time for Give Hope, Fight Poverty has been taxing to say the least.  

January 2nd
Yesterday I didn’t have time to write in the blog, and today I don’t have much either.  We only have one day left and still lots to do!
Yesterday the participants went on safari in Hlane Royal National Park and I hung out with friends in Mbabane.  I tried to run errands and get work done but NOTHING was open.  When they got home, we went to the Maziyas (Mazwi and Philo) to watch Madagascar 3 on my laptop.  The kids LOVE movies.  The group was exhausted from us running around nonstop that we could barely keep our eyes open.  Sifiso fell asleep in the car – where we left him – and where he remained until we got in the car to go home.  When we finally woke him up, he thought it was time for the movie! I was dozing in and out of consciousness to the sound of Mazwi’s giggles…and Andrew passed out even worse on the Maziya homestead concrete floor! We tried shouting at him and hitting him…no use.  We thought we were going to have to leave him there!

This morning we paid our orphans school fees (GHFP is growing and has 16 kiddos now!!).  We ended up adding the young girl in Malindza who was crying when she found out she didn’t get sponsored.  I feel privileged to have been able to graduate high school and go on to earn 3 college degrees… it’s hard to tell someone their education must end at 9th grade because we do not have the money to help them.  We also bought their school shoes, solar lighting for the homes, 11,000 rand worth of food for the primary and secondary schools (THANKS TO THE FOODOM GRANT), and cell phones for all of our families. 

In the afternoon we had a tour at Baylor Pediatric HIV clinic.  It is always nice to return! The doctors are amazing and they are doing such great work.

Tonight we picked up Mazwi and Philo and took them to the Msibi house.  When I walked up to their home I noticed Mazwi’s eye was swollen shut.  He said that it hurt.  I immediately called my doctor friend at Baylor who said that maybe it was only a bug bite and to give him some Benadryl.  Phew, what a relief.  But then the doctor called back a few minutes later and said that she spoke to her doctor friends and they decided that if he has a rash (yes, since June), and it hurts (yes, he said it hurts rather than itches), then if the other eye starts to swell we should rush him to the ER – it might be a reaction to his ARVs (antiretroviral medication) or Steven Johnson Syndrome.  Every other day of my life I pray for streetlights in the village as it is unsafe at night for the children – but tonight I was thankful for the darkness so no one in the car could see my panic or the tears falling down my cheeks.  We gave him Benadryl and although he got sleepy, it looked like the swelling might have gone down a bit by the time we dropped him off.  I gave Philo her brand new GHFP cell phone and told her I’d call her in the morning to check in on Mazwi.  I am SO thankful for the donations for the cell phones as these children are all alone and not safe without them.  Ill let you guys know tomorrow if he gets better… fingers crossed that it was just a bug bite!! 

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