We went to our New Hope Centre to play with our new 2018 preschool children. As we arrived, we didn’t see the usual commotion and wondered what was wrong. Once we pulled up to the school, the teachers informed us that on “very cold days such as today” the kids do not come to school. It was 60 degrees. Apparently in Swaziland, that is considered a snow day!!
We took advantage of the spare time to deliver food to the children’s homes. We purchased 10 emergency meal packs thanks to the generous donation from Sube & Margaret! Our first stop was the “dancing gogo (grandmother) house”. The group asked me why I call her that. As soon as Gogo saw the car – she started to dance/run toward us and the group quickly picked up on her nickname! Then, she wanted to pose with herself on her grassmat covered in the food we delivered all while enthusiastically shaking her broom in the air like a pompon. She’s hysterical! We delivered to many more homes including a home with a little girl who insisted on walking with us to her homestead boldly leading the way and laughing the whole time. Her strength, joy and lack of fear reminded me of my little daughter back home (Hi Tinlie, mommy misses you!!). Then we arrived at a home where we thought no one was home. Our teacher decided we would try the door and if it was unlocked, we would leave the food just inside for when the children returned home. But, when we opened the door, we saw a very elderly woman lying on a thin blanket on the cement floor. As Fortune spoke to her in SiSwati, we stood back. She translated that the woman is unable to use her legs and lives with the children we sponsor “as their caretaker”. This woman was very old, emaciated and laying in her own excrement on the floor – unable to move away from it. As horrifically sad that it is that there is no nursing home available to make her comfortable, it is equally sad that the very young children living with her have no one to look out for them, and the additional burden of caring for their immobile grandmother. Payton was finding it difficult to hold in the tears as we smiled and said our warmest “you’re welcome” after being smothered in “thank yous” from the nearly lifeless gogo. Life is so very tough in rural Swaziland.
We spent the evening taking Bongani out to pizza for his birthday! Bongani is doing well in form 4 (junior in high school) and still has dreams of flipping homes and owning rental properties here in Swaziland. Lungelo was also at the pizza party. He is finishing up his 4th year (of 6) at the University of Swaziland in accounting. He aspires to own his own accounting company someday soon! Nomfundo also joined us with her baby girl Lihle. Nomfundo found a nannying position in Manzini that allows her to bring her daughter – which is perfect since Lihle is only 13 months old. They provide food and housing as well as a monthly stipend. Her sister Nosipho also joined us. Nosipho is in her first year of business college. She hopes to not only run her own business after she graduates but also to have a singing side hustle (she has the voice of an angel!).
There are often times here in Swaziland when I want to pinch myself. I looked into these kids’ eyes tonight and saw hope and happiness. Instantly however, I can close my own and recall a decade ago when there was only loneliness and fear. When I reopen them and I’m able to see that the past was only a temporary nightmare, I want to simultaneously pinch myself, praise God, and run around giggling in delight. These children are miracles. They are game-changers for the future of their nation. They are inspirational. And I am constantly trying to remind them that they are loved. Thanks for helping me do that!!