We started our day in rural Malindza Village. We toured Mpaka High School where our 3 Malindza orphans attend school. The school was large and appears to be high performing. They serve a decent hot school lunch every day (including chicken on Thursdays!). There is also vocational training (woodworking, foods & nutrition, home econ, etc) on site. While the teacher was showing us around, our lovely Nomalungelo appeared. She noticed us from her classroom window and came to say hello. I am sooooo happy that we are breaking through her shy shell! We promised the girls we’d be back to pick them up from school but we needed to stop by Sharon’s house to set up her new GHFP solar panels.
Sharon’s grandmother was waiting for us at the road with her two littlest ones (She cares for 4 orphaned grandchildren). She was nonstop hugging and dancing saying that she prayed for a miracle to help her with Sharon and God listened and delivered Give Hope, Fight Poverty. She kept repeating “Nothing is impossible with God. One day this thing (AIDS) will be finished and Sharon will not need any more tablets (ARVs).” We found out that our sweet Sharon is positive from a mother to child transmission at birth. Her father died when she was born and her mother died a couple of years later. Sharon’s grandmother was then given this child who she described as a bag of bones. She knew something was wrong and suspected it was HIV. She tied her to her back with a blanket (normal "Mom" way to transport an infant) and made the long commute to Siteki to have Sharon tested. She said that Sharon was so light weight she didn’t know if she was still attached to her back or if she had fallen off on one of the bumpy dirt roads. Her HIV illness suspicions were confirmed and at 2 years old Sharon started anti-retroviral treatments. The Gogo said that for the last 13 years she prayed that she would not die until Sharon was old enough to be able to make the long trek to Siteki by herself to get her tablets (HIV medication) every couple of months on her own. She said that now that we are sponsoring her schooling and Sharon is old enough to retrieve her tablets, she is ready to die when God takes her. Even before the words were out of her mouth, the GHFP team immediately started crying. How could the world ever be the same without her amazing spirit? I wouldn’t even want to imagine it.
Just as we tried to compose ourselves, I receive a phone call from our little Philo in eLangeni saying that she has ringworm all over her body and wants our help. Literally after I hang up the phone I get another phone call from a scared little girl saying that our Malindza orphan Nothando is pregnant and has dropped out of school. We told Philo we would bring her medication tomorrow and we told Nothando that we will always love her no matter what and that we will support her and make sure that she is able to finish high school. She was afraid to tell us as she thought we would turn our backs on her. How can you turn your back on one of your own?! Life in Swaziland is overwhelming. Sometimes I think I need to be here full time. Other times I think if I were here full time I would die of a broken heart at 35. But all of the time I am thankful for all of the people – YOU – who are helping us help these amazing children who literally have no one else.
At the end of the day we receive a plea from our eLangeni primary school saying that it is only halfway through the school year (their school year is from Jan-Dec) and their pit latrines are already overflowing. There is literally fecal matter on the bathroom floor now as the toilets have reached their capacity. They said that each port-a-potty should only have 25 students per year using it. They have 634 students and only 8 toilets. A recipe for sanitary disaster. We (GHFP) are going to build 8 more pit latrines, another hand-washing station, and a soap dispensary for our eLangeni primary kids. If you would like to contribute, please donate online. Any amount helps!!: http://www.ifightpoverty.org/donate.html
Celebrate Swaziland... there is so much to emulate here. Compassion, empathy, tradition, community, selflessness, and LOVE!