I can’t believe our whirlwind trip has come to an end… and I really can’t believe we returned the rental car entirely unscathed (that NEVER happens)!! Yesterday we went with Raymond, one of our builders, to CashBuild (think Swazi Ace Hardware) where we bought materials to update the New Hope feeding center’s kitchen and patch some leaking holes in our pre-school’s roof. Also, thanks to your generous donations this week, we were able to purchase a 110 pound bag of manure for Philo, Mazwi and Samkelo’s subsistence farm. This family never asks for handouts, and when they do, it is always for something that will help with the work they do (like the manure for their farming). I was so grateful for the donation funds to buy the bag but simultaneously hoped that this giant bag would not split open in the car… I’m sure the rental company would have frowned upon that!
One challenge our adolescent girls face is attending school during their periods. Sometimes they use corn husks or old newspaper, but sometimes they have nothing at all. One of my best buds Kristen is part of a women’s group in Iowa and they sew us beautiful reusable sanitary pads. The awesome part is that these pads have a super-absorbable insert that, when removed, just looks like a wash cloth so the girls do not have to be embarrassed to wash them and hang them on the line. Over the years we have been able to distribute hundreds of these bags thanks to the generosity of Kristen and her friends…and yesterday we delivered 50 more to our partner Nomfundo in Malindza Village. She will disseminate them privately to the girls who need them most and teach them how to use and clean them.
We then performed two free pediatric pop-up clinics in Malindza Village: one at a new care-point and a second at our New Hope Centre. We had two local Swazi nurses performing the checkups while Emily, Brianna, Celiwe (our preK teacher) and I packaged the medicines into single doses and handed out soaps, toothpaste, beanie babies, and stickers to the children. After one of the clinics, some of the local leaders decided to make some speeches to the children. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the community leaders are often quite long-winded!! The kids spent the time comparing stickers and throwing things at each other. One of the kids sneaked into the “clinic” and came out with a medical glove blown up like a balloon. He proceeded to run around through the kids “high-fiving” them with his rubber glove and kicking it around like a soccer ball. I tried to keep my focus on the leaders but I definitely had to stifle a mega-case of the giggles!! We’re very grateful for the medical supplies donated by Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, the non-prescription medication donated by my friends from our Amazon Wishlist, and the financial support from the Indianapolis Rotary Club making our clinics possible.
Last night we took Lungelo, Njabuliso, Bongani, Philo and Mazwi to Debonairs Pizza (Philo’s choice). At dinner we learned that: Mazwi plays the keyboard now (he’s learning at church), Njabuliso has been working in various garages around Mbabane fixing cars while he waits for permanent employment (he just finished an Automotive Engineering program), Bongani described his business plan after he graduates in high school which includes owning rental homes and flipping houses, and Lungelo is still working hard in his 4th year of Accounting at University of Swaziland.
Everything we bring to Swaziland with us (even our suitcases) are left behind. For the last couple of years, I have left our clothing with Philo because she is a hustler!! Yesterday morning I gave her a 50lb suitcase full of our dirty clothes and by the time we fetched her for dinner she already had them cleaned, dried, and on the market! Last time we left clothes in May, she used the money to pay for a church camp for herself and Mazwi. This time, she said she will use it to pre-pay for some electricity in their home.
I’m endlessly proud of these kids. I’m endlessly thankful for our generous donors. And I’m endlessly prayerful that the orphans' hard work and your support will continue. That combination will change the future for our children… www.ifightpoverty.org/donate.html Until March 2018…. Siyabonga (thank you)!!