Friday, August 31, 2007


On Thursday, 8-30, I drove almost two hours to Mahamba to meet with Rev. Margaret Dlamini. Rev. Margaret is the Superintendent of the Mahamba circuit. She is an amazing lady and the Mahamba area is an amazing place. It is home to the oldest Methodist church and mission in Swaziland which was dedicated in 1912. Rev. Margaret was instrumental in renovating it over the years and it continues to be the church home in Mahamba. It is now a national landmark.

Mahamba is the largest circuit of the three circuits in Swaziland, geographically speaking and the poorest because they don’t have a big town in the circuit. It is a very rural area, with the major industry being wood and wood pulp from the vast forests of tree farms. It is a very beautiful mountainous area. The Mahamba circuit has been hit very hard by the HIV/AIDs rate largely because of the extended length of time the men are away in South Africa earning a living in the mines. The extreme poverty and lack of health care are also contributing factors. The “town” (I didn’t see any evidence of a town) is situated in the Southern part of Swaziland next to the Mahamba border post.

The Mahamba circuit has fourteen Methodist schools with an enrollment of approximately 6200 students of which 12% are destitute, 18% are single orphans and 10% are double orphans.

Margaret’s top priorities (wish list) for projects are:

1. A proposed project for feeding HIV/AIDS infected and needy pupils in the Mahamba Circuit that will cost approximately E 60,000. (approximately $8600.)

2. A proposed vegetable garden project that would provide vegetables to all the schools in the circuit as well as the needy and elderly people of Mahamba. The total of this project is estimated at E 125,155. (approximately $18,000.) This is a very interesting proposal. The church owns a very large piece of property near the MKhondo river, which runs from South Africa through Swaziland and has water in it year around. This land is basically going unused. It is good farmland. The proposal is to plant a garden on 4 hectors employing local residents to maintain and harvest the garden. The harvested vegetables would be taken to each of the schools to supplement the proposed feeding project. This project would not only bring needed food to the schools, but employ some of the local residents, thereby providing them with a source of income.

The above two projects would need some amount of funds over the years to sustain the program. Those figures haven’t been determined.

3. Provide Assistance to Thembelihle Primary School. The head teacher’s priorities at this school are: 1) Provide an agriculture building enabling the 6th grade students to do the required 6th grade agriculture projects of growing a vegetable garden and raising chickens. 2) Provide razor wire for the fence to keep animals and people out of the school yard and vegetable garden. 3) Repair existing and build more teachers cottages.

4. Provide water for Nsongweni Primary and High Schools which are on the same property. Between the two schools, the enrollment is approximately 1,000 students. Currently, there is no water at the school. This will be one of the 2008 projects adopted by Dennis Little via his fund-raising efforts.

While we were there, she also took us to the Mahamba Gorge Lodge on the Mkhondo River, not far from the proposed vegetable garden site. The Lodge is also on the church’s property. A lodge was built by the community and includes 3 chalets, picnic areas, facilities for camping, hiking trails, mountain biking and swimming in the River. Each Chalet has two separate rooms which sleeps two people for a total capacity of twelve. Each room has its own kitchen, which contains all utilities needed to prepare meals, a bathroom complete with hot water. Lodgers must provide their own food. Proceeds from the lodge are split between the community (75%) and the church (25%). The lodge is operated by employees of the community.

They would like someone to help them build a stone conference room and help with marketing this facility to bring in more tourism and revenue to Mahamba and the church. This was a very beautiful facility in a beautiful setting. This was an exciting venture. The setting is very rural, and I’m sure it gets very hot in the summer, but what a concept! Check it out at

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