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It is the Swazi way to give when you receive, even if you have nothing - Day 17

It is such the Swazi way to give when you receive.  We completed our last food drop to Nkhosingiphile’s house which was absolutely full of tiny children.  Her grandmother and grandfather care for them all.  They are amazing! The grandfather cannot hear and could only see me when I was five inches from his face, but then he grabbed us and said “you ladies are beautiful”.  I am certain that was the glaucoma talking as it was cold, rainy, and a designated ugly-clothes day – but I still thanked him for his kindness.  The grandmother told Nkhosingiphile to pick avocadoes from their tree for us as a thank you for bringing the FOODOM donation (Mitali, I’ll bring them home to you!).  I know it is rude to not accept such a generous gift but when I glance around at all of the hungry and barely clothed (it’s winter here) children around, I resist my urge to say no.  We load our pockets and bookbags with delicious treats for later and I fist bump all of the little boys crowding around our car goodbye.  

Then we headed to our friend Njabu’s house.  She is SO amazing!! I wish I was half as warm and energetic as she is, she reminds me of my aunt Maureen! I feel like I’m home in her house with her hot tea, chocolate biscuits, and absolutely loving hugs. We always feel like we can ask her anything but tonight the girls got more than they bargained for.  I was happily playing stomach (a Swazi card game) with my little Mazwi who was belly laughing whenever he beat me (so of course I continuously lost on purpose).  The sound of his laughter is more than my heart can bear and I was so content that I was barely listening to the adult conversation going on beside me.  But then I glance over and see Katy and Kait crying and I immediately wonder what they’re talking about.  Samkelo.  Mazwi and Philo’s older brother and caregiver.  I have never been more proud of another human being in my life.  This is the kid who dropped out of elementary school to care for his infant HIV positive brother and his very young uneducated sister.  He works two jobs and begs from neighbors so his young siblings are cared for.  He grows all of their food in their yard even though the neighbor’s goats and pigs eat most of it, yet never complains.  Ever.   The girls were asking about him tonight and Njabu said that he recently went to get a birth certificate/ID card so he can apply for a legitimate job and they told him he’d have to come back another day after he softened his hands because they could not get an adequate fingerprint since his fingers are all severely calloused from his hard work.  So he went home to do so and then his sister died.  Njabu said that Samkelo was stressed for weeks trying to make sure the funeral was perfect so his extended family would be proud of this young family and his sister would make it into heaven.  When I think about the things I was “burdened” with at his age I am embarrassed.  An all-wrong-for-me-boyfriend, a “killer” biomedical engineering exam at Purdue, and the fact that I didn’t have a car to be able to drive 3 hours home to the fore mentioned all-wrong-for-me boyfriend.  How does Samkelo manage all of this responsibility raising a young sister and an HIV positive little brother with basically no income, no electricity, no running water, and no education?  How do any of our GHFP kids manage their load?  I will forever be impressed and in awe of the strength and endurance of our young amazing kids.  I could never conquer in my entire lifetime what they have already mastered in their childhood.  Samkelo is requesting a fence so he can keep the crops in his siblings tummies rather than the neighbor’s farm animals.  This will enable him to quit his overnight security job and spend more time at home with our little ones.  If anyone would like to donate to this project, please consider doing so on our website:  Any amount helps!!

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