Day 5-6: Feel free to skim thru the pictures…or for you hard-care-Swazi followers, grab a coffee or tea, sit back and enjoy the read!
8:30 am Alarm (slept in a bit because we know what’s ahead)
9:55 am Leave Asante (guest house) to go drop off two of Sheila’s sewing machines for repair.
11:02 am Hit ShopRite & Teacher’s Supply Store for more home-visit gifts including fresh bread, lanterns, kerosene, soccer balls and a white board and markers for teacher Nancy.
11:37 am Leave for Enaleni (Ncobile is shocked at how fast us ‘men’ shop…not bothering to check the prices for 2 hours).
12:03 pm We arrive at Enaleni just as the food delivery truck arrives with boxes of rice ‘n veggie packets packed by ‘Kids Against Hunger’.
1:45 pm Water tanker truck arrives. With the drought and a very low water table, the well hasn’t been pumping as much water into the plastic tanks as is needed.
3:05 pm We hang out with kids, shoot scenes for one of four videos we’re working on and play with the kids until the older kids arrive and everyone is gathered for the D-Team singing / Bible story / role-call time.
4:05 pm Home visit for Cam to the home of his special friend, Lungelo. Such home visits for a sponsor are rare and so very special. Cam does a great job of blessing the Magge and their home.
4:37 pm Home visit to our family’s special friend, Wilile’s homestead. Carolyn visited last April so much of the conversation was about how Carolyn was doing and what a great time they had with here.
i had the chance to deliver a card, some photos, some clothes and a new dress for Wilile along with a bag of groceries for Magge. I also had the chance to buy a piece of her ‘intended-for-market’ handicraft for a ridiculously inflated (by me) price.
5:30 pm Arrive at Lindiwe’s home (the mother of our other special friend, Ncumcile).
We have the extremely rare and remarkable opportunity to watch (and actually be a part of) what happens on the average Swazi homestead after the kids leave the Care Point. Once they return to the homestead they walk 3 km to get pails full of water. Then it’s time for boiling water, laundry…
…dishes, cooking a bit of porridge for supper, killing a plucking a chicken (for the guests…us!)…and be shown to our hut.
What was most shocking was, first, that the sun goes down at 5:55 pm …
…and it’s very dark by 6:30…and, secondly, that there is so much activity that happens in the dark. Cam and i were struggling to see where we were walking while our friends were going about their chores and even playing a bit of soccer in the dark with the ball we had brought. Thirdly, the number of people on this homestead at one time: 29! By bed time we think it had dwindled down to about 18 or 19 staying in three mud huts.
Supper was served to Cam and i in our mud hut, the one where the boys normal stay, around 7:45 pm. It was ‘homestead chicken’, porridge and a pot of tea.
8:30 pm We all gathered in Lindiwe’s hut (this one equipped with two beds) for some wonderful worship and prayer.
8:50 pm Cam and i were brought to our hut. Two straw mats were laid on the floor and we were given one of the kerosene lanterns and a mosquito coil.
8:52 pm There was a knock at the door and we were told that two of the young boys wanted to sleep with us. We welcomed them in and with their straw mat, the room was now full. However, right behind them came 4 of the girls.
They were just coming to visit. i told them they could, but they would have to sing for us. This started an awesome time of singing, them teaching us Saswati, Ncumsile being a goof, and me telling them what my daughter Carley wants me to do when i say good night: scratch her back and sing. So i scratch Ncumsile’s back (who’s laying beside me on her stomach) and sing ‘Good Night Sweetheart’ and ‘Jesus Loves Me’.
9:30 pm The girls leave, (all us boys go outside one at a time for a pee) and we turn the lantern down to sleep.
Cam and i don’t sleep very well. Between a few mosquitoes, a couple of cockroaches and spiders (and the thought of BIGGER ONE’S), the hard clay floor and the dog that barked just our hut until 1:55 am NON-STOP…we barely sleep.
At 2:00 am we begin to settle in and relax…and at 2:05 am the rooster starts cock-a-doodle-dooing!
5:05 am The homestead comes alive. Some of the kids wipe the sleep from their eyes, grab a hoe and head out to weed the corn.
Others cut fire wood, do laundry and begin boiling water.
5:32 am The sun rises.
5:45 am Cam and i are served breakfast in our hut (plain bread and tea. It’s wonderful!)
5:59 am We spot Ncumcile folding laundry that was hung on the barbed wire fence. 6:05 am…there is a line for a bath in one of the huts and those emerging are wearing their school uniforms and brushing their hair.
6:39 am The older girls begin their 6 km walk to high school.
6:52 am After presenting Ncumcile with a card from Carolyn, some photos, clothes, school supplies and a dress…the primary school kids leave for their 4 km walk to school.
Aside: This trip has been marked by ‘three-choke-up-moments’ for me. One was at church just before i went up to preach. i looked around and had a flashback of walking onto this property 5 years early and was overwhelmed with emotion of i was witnessing the amazing difference…because of the love and generosity of Riverwooders! The other two came when Wilile and Ncumsile opened their card’s that Carolyn had given them and inside were pictures of Carolyn and the girls on their last visit. Seeing Carolyn’s picture in those little brown hands half-a-world away from home just got me.
7:49 am Arrived at the Primary School with the kids. We watched as they gathered for General Assembly (singing and prayer) and then went off to their classes. We had the chance to sit in on Ncumsile’s class for a while.
9:10 am Headed back to Manzini to charge camera batteries, grab a shower, some breakfast and get some more money exchanged from Jumbo.
10:44 am Hit 2 markets to buy some stuff for Jon. On the way, Ncobile points out a lady who is dressed all in black and tells us that this is how you can tell that a woman has lost her husband. She will wear the black dress for a year.
We pick up the sewing machines (they are fixed already…but now two other Gogo’s at Enaleni come forward with their broken machines…so we have a couple more to fix), grab some lunch and head to Bhobhokazi.
1:38 pm Arrive at Bhobhokazi to continue our video-project work.
3:27 pm Deliver the fixed sewing machines and pick up the other broken one’s from Teacher Nancy and Gogo Eunice.
4:40 pm Leave Enaleni to head to King Pie and then back to Asante.
5:31 pm Do some laundry in the shower and begin uploading the video and photos from the last day-and-a-half.
Hang the laundry outside…but run to bring it in as it begins to rain and hail.
It’s been an amazing couple of days and we feel so honoured and privileged to have experienced what we have. Best of all, we feel our friendship our friends who live in unbelievable poverty, in mud huts with no electricity, has grown deeper and richer.
It will be a late night of catching up on the blog, emails, FaceBook and Skype. Tomorrow we are up and leaving at 6:30 am for some personal time (on a short game-drive/safari). From there, we leave Manzini with the Swazi Leaders for JoBurg at 12 noon.
No idea when we will have internet next. The Global Leadership Summit in JoBurg runs all day Friday and Saturday. Our flight leave for home (via JoBurg, Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis, Winnipeg..ugh) on Sunday night.
Thanks for joining us!
– Todd & Cam