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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Swaziland

We're back from Swaziland and I've found that I need to learn some more adjectives.  When someone says "how was your trip?" my instinct is to say "it was great." But honestly, it was not great. It was heartbreaking, overwhelming, intense, frustrating, angering and so full of joy and peace all at the same time.  But I will say this: God is at work in Swaziland and I am beyond honored that I got to play a small role in what He's doing there.

What a beautiful smile!
I have so many stories to tell that I don't know where to start. We worked mainly in a community about two hours away from where we were staying. They had no access to clean water, there was no one there my age (most of my generation has died due to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses) so the community is mainly made up of older men & women and children.  It is one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited with some of the most beautiful people.  And boy was it hard to be an adoptive parent with a completed home study and CIS approval while holding an orphan in my arms. (Swaziland does not allow international adoptions by the way).


The only access to water was the river where animals also come to drink. Women and children walk about 20 minutes to the river once or twice a day to get water for drinking, cooking, and washing.
Here are just some tidbits of info to start:

In the community where I worked, there were many "double orphans" (children who have lost both parents and don't have anyone to care for them). They pretty much stay in their shelter all the time and come out ONLY on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays when the Gogos (grandmothers) of the community cook a meal for all the children of the community. These kids can count on only three meals per week. They don't even go down to the river to get (very dirty) water for themselves.

One of the beautiful Gogos in our community who feeds the children three times a week.
I visited the city dump where children LIVE. Not only that, but people walk from far away to come there. That was almost harder to take than knowing people live there. A met a woman who walked several miles with her child on her back to come sit at the dump all day. They pick through the garbage to find whatever food may be left over.

It costs $3 to see a doctor in the emergency room. Most Swazis don't have that much. And over 50% of them have HIV/AIDS and are NOT medicated.  I prayed with children who had been hospitalized for over a week for pneumonia. A parent HAS to stay with them in order to cook their food and take care of them in the hospital (which means if that parent has a job they have to not work during that time).

We found this little child at the dump and brought her to the hospital. She was at the dump with her mother & grandmother and they had walked quite a ways to get there.
If you want to help the best thing you can do is go. There's a trip headed to Swaziland this fall and the trips for next summer are already posted: http://www.heartforafrica.org/Trips.aspx.  Get to know the people of Swaziland and bring them a message of hope as you work alongside them to help them solve the poverty problem. We are no better than they are but it means so much to them that you travel so far to be with them as equals.

Poverty is a relational problem. Throwing money at Swaziland will not solve the issues. But if you can't go, consider donating to Project Canaan. In short, it's land Heart for Africa has bought in order to grow crops, build a baby home and provide jobs and food to the people of Swaziland.  You can also buy a bag of maize from the first harvest at Canaan.  I just bought a bag that will be delivered to the community where I was working (it's church #10 - Mashobane Grace). It gives the Heart for Africa staff an excuse to go out to the community (remember, it was 2 hours away from where we stayed) and check on them & see how they are doing AND deliver the maize. Awesome... here's how you can do that: http://www.heartforafrica.org/store.aspx?panel=1&categoryid=15

3 comments:

  1. Hi Kirstin! I'm so glad you said what you did about needing new adjectives to describe a trip to Swaziland... I was so frustrated in Swaziland trying to figure out how to answer the question, "Did you have a good day?" at the end of each day.

    I know the heart and the intent of the question was meant to be an open door to talk about the day... But how do you really answer that?

    It was so nice to meet you, I hope we can serve again together someday in Swaziland! Can't wait to see who God has chosen to be your next child!! Isn't it comforting to know that He has the perfect child, chosen just for your family?!

    Our oldest plays a good bit of soccer in your town, each spring, maybe we could catch up sometime... I would love to meet your children too (and you're newest addition when they arrive)!

    Blessings,
    Sharla

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  2. I am so glad you guys are back safe and sound! I bet those two little kiddos were THRILLED to see you both!

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  3. Wow. The thought of those kiddos, on their own, only three meals a week... I feel sick. I'm thankful that you went. I'm thankful to know about the people living in Swaziland. I will pray for them, and that God will show me how to react to what I've heard. Thank you my sweet friend for going and for sharing! :)

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