Welcome to the Kingdom of Swaziland!

King Mswati III and our team welcome you to the Kingdom of Swaziland! We landed in Jo-Burg at 6:45 am Wednesday local time (10:45 pm Tuesday night Wpg time). ‘Jumbo’ met us at the airport and we began our 5 hour drive to Manzini…which will be home-base for the next week.
The terrain from Jo-Burg to Manzini really surprised us. It could have just as easily have been Minnesota or Wisconsin. Rolling hills, plains, green fields and tons of corn. After we crossed into Swaziland the landscape turned to mountains and winding roads.
Jumbo gave us 30 minutes at the hotel to shower and change (we had been in the same clothes for 48 hours)…and then we were off to join the rest of the CHC (Children’s Hope Chest) group of 22 at the garbage dump. There the team had given up their own supper to provide a meal for the people that live in or near the dump. From there we headed to visit our first Care Point called Zakhele.
The Care Point had been built by an American…and was now being maintained by a group called Children’s Cup. The kids are given a meal a day (of corn-meal or sour sweet cereal).
We had a blast playing with the kids and hearing the story of the Gogo (the woman in charge who volunteers to cook and take care of the kids). At this particular Care Point, they had two teachers who had just started.
Kelly quickly flipped into ‘teacher mode’ and began singing with the kids and playing games with them. i, in turn challenged a couple of kids to a game of soccer…AND WON:)

On the five our drive from Jo-Burg we did nothing but ask questions of Jumbo. He was so patient and so full of information. Here is some of what we learnt:

* Swaziland has a population of 950,000

* There are 94,000 jobs in Swaziland…70% are government jobs

* Swaziland is ruled by a King…who has 14 wives…who each drive a BMW and have their own royal residence. He also has 6 palaces.

* In the last three years…350,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS

* In this country of 950,000…215,000 are orphans or vulnerable children

* There are about 6 or 7 churches currently sponsoring Care Points.

* Most of the population is un-educated and education ranges from $50 – 1000/year/child

* Children’s Hope Chest has partnered with AIM (Adventures in Missions) to help the people of Swaziland.

* 44.6% of the population has HIV/AIDS

* When a man wants to marry a Swazi woman he has to negotiate how many cows it will cost him (payable to the girls parents). Usually it is about 13 or 14 cows ranging from $400-$600 each. (i’m planning on bringing this new-found tradition to Winnipeg and figure my future could see as many as 42 cows in it!)

* Because of the lack of education…many believe myths, like, to use a condom causes worms and to rape a virgin child will cure you of aids.

* The religion here is a bizarre synchrotism and mix of Swazi tradition, Zionism and Christianity. It’s called a “powerless” faith.

This evening we went for a KFC supper to Jumbo’s house and met his wife, Kriek (‘creek’). Now we’re off to bed…our first since Sunday night. Tomorrow morning we go visit a Care Point and in the afternoon we’ve had an itinerary change so we’ll be joining the larger group for a safari. Then we’re back to Manzini with our group of 4 for the rest of our stay here. We will also be staying in a guest-house without internet…so we’re not sure when we will update our Blog next.

Thanks so much for coming with us. Please continue to pray for us and the people we meet. Pray for wisdom as we will need to discern which village/Care Point is the one Riverwood should choose to ‘become special friends with’.

– All our love…Todd

5 thoughts on “Welcome to the Kingdom of Swaziland!

  1. I have wondered about that point. There are so many to help. . . I can’t even imagine how difficult this decision will be. I ask that you would hand it over completely to the Lord, and that God you would totally be in charge of this entire mission.Lord please provide clear direction for our whole team, and that You would provide aid and assistance through another means for the villages that are not for us to partner with. Thank You Lord, for this opportunity. Amen

  2. Good luck with your visit to Swaziland. There is a lot of sadness and need there. Please correct your statistics to reflect the correct information. 42.6% of the sexually active aged 15 to 40 years are HIV positive and of the GERERAL POPULATION, about 27% are HIV positive.

  3. T, C.Great Update! Our prayers are with you…. Kaitlyn and I can’t wait to get to your place tomorrow!Love ya.Brother Dave

  4. Just got my 1st chance to catch up and see what you guys have been up to. Sounds more like the making of Amazing Race 8 or 9. Todd,I thought you said we should do that someday! I’m already looking forward to makeing the trek in the near future to come out and help the sponsored village.Enjoy the safari, I’m sure the animals will all be safe as I’ve seem how you can shoot:)In in our prayers.RW

  5. Say hi to the college AIM team from Gainesville, GA if you see them..especially my daughter Danielle. 🙂 They just arrived last week for three months and haven’t started blogging yet. Will pray that God will rain His love down on that country! Consider yourselves a rainstorm of love with choosing your village and may many other storms follow! Those college kid ought to stir it up too! I hear they’re awesome!!

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