January 3rd

Day 7: We are all leaves from one tree…
Yesterday my friend Alex took us mountain hiking to see Mbabane city from above.  I warned the girls not to wear flip flops but told them it was an easy hike and they’d love the view.  Alex took us to the same mountain I’ve been on before but a MUCH different path…this one was STRAIGHT UP!  We lost two girls on the way up due to falling and refusing to trek higher.  On the way down, I was the mama duck with my ducklings waddling directly in my footsteps.  I kept praying that no one would fall because if they did, I would go down with them, domino style.  We had two slip…including Kailey who slid for at least 15 feet while looking like she was surfing but laughing the entire time. When we made it back to the car Amber said she was never mountain climbing again and Makinzie asked if her fall tore a hole in her yoga pants.  I think over all, our hiking expedition was a huge success.
Weeding.  This is a chore.  Two of the puniest girls (Stephanie and myself) offered to help Philo and Mazwi weed their maize field with their broken hoe while they bathed and got ready for their trip to the city to see the movie.  I immediately regretted my offer as I was afraid I would accidentally upchuck one of their beautiful little maize plants…and butt sweat was drenching through my slacks.  But on a positive note, Stephanie and I felt very productive on an early Saturday morning.  When we were done (who knows how successful we really were as our 20 minutes of weeding made very little progress on their huge garden), we saw our donated jump ropes tied to the top of their covered “kitchen” area.  It’s funny how we think we’re donating a toy and they turn it into a useful tool – a clothing line to dry their freshly washed clothes!
Today we took half of the sponsored orphans to see a cartoon movie called “Epic”.  I loved it!! The movie had an “Ubuntu” theme as they said that we are all leaves growing from the same tree – or “I am because we are”. AND I just so happened to be seated in front of little Mazwi who exclaimed “yeah yeah yeah!! Ohhhh!! Ahhhh!! Ohh noooo!” throughout the whole movie.  On the way home in the rural village I plopped Mazwi on my lap and let him drive us home.  I cannot get enough of that boy’s giggles and smiles.  I love watching him grow up and I pray to God that his HIV medication will carry him through to an old age that beats my own. 
I usually love the movie days – pizza and movies always make goodbyes easier.  And it’s only a see-you-later until March.  But today I went home with a heavy heart. Two of my girls are pregnant.  One was from a rape and the other was a sugar-daddy/coercive older boyfriend situation.  Both girls are terrified of what the future will bring for them (now “damaged” goods) and their babies (being born of unemployed hungry single mothers).  Both girls asked me to take their babies back to the US when they are born.  Both girls only wish this because they want to give their children a life better than their own – orphaned, HIV-+, unemployed, and uncertain of what their future holds. Sometimes it feels as though, in the grand scheme of things, our GHFP kids are only statistics: “120,000 HIV orphans in Swaziland”.  But these kids are human beings – AMAZING children with passions and dreams and endless love.  I wish to make them infamous.  I wish to tell their stories to anyone who will listen.  I wish for people to remember Mazwi not as the poor orphan with HIV but as the hilarious, rambunctious, courageous, hardworking, and sweet sweet sweet boy that he is.  Thank you for reading and spreading the word… YOU are helping make them live beyond a statistic.   

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