Sunday, September 9, 2007

Just one of God's Blessings

This afternoon I met a woman named Patricia Dlamini. She is the mother of 5 children, 4 of which are still living. Her youngest child is starting 7th grade. Her husband passed away in 1995. Both Patricia and her husband were correctional officers in Swaziland. Patricia had to leave her job when a growth was discovered in her throat and she could no longer talk. She had been a correctional officer for 30 years when she had to leave her job. She received the equivalent of $13,000 when she left. By the way, Patricia’s voice returned even though Doctors said she would never talk again after the growth was removed from her throat!
Patricia feels that she can’t sit home and do nothing. Therefore she has undertaken several projects on her land. She has built a concrete pig pen and is raising pigs, she has numerous chickens, has many different fruit trees, is starting to keep bees and has visions of creating a fish pond on her land so they will have fish to eat. Her house is modest, and very pleasant, clean, and comfortable.
I met Patricia because she had donated a pig to Mrs. Ngema as a gift of thanks for her service as the Women’s Manyano President for the last three years. The pig had been slaughtered and someone had to get the pig and deliver it to Mrs. Ngema. Patricia lives about 45 minutes away from St. Paul’s on a homestead which is part of an area or town called Kabhudla. The shortest way is via a long dirt road. Patricia brought me to her home to fetch the pig for Mrs. Ngema and to show me her farm and the other live pigs. (She didn’t think someone from the US had ever seen a real live pig before. It was hard to disappoint her.)

It was one of those many situations where I wasn’t sure what I had been volunteered for but I knew it wasn’t going exactly as planned. Eleanor, the church secretary who got me into this, and who is so dear I can’t say no to her, was supposed to go with me. However, there was a death of a church member and she had to stay behind. So I was leaving with a woman I had never met, to a place I had never been and had no idea where it was, with a woman whose level of English was unknown. It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. I could understand Patricia’s English much better than she could understand mine. I am guessing that we were close to the same age. She said she wasn’t ready to lay down and die after she had to quit working. Working is what keeps her growing. Her dream is to have a self-reliant farm to pass on to her children. She hopes her children learn from her efforts and keep it growing after she is too old. She is striving to pass down the work ethic to her children so “they won’t become lazy and expect others to feed and take care of them.”

Patricia is the type of person who instead of going to the local church which is probably a 2 mile walk from her home, is now attending St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Manzini, where she has to take a Kombi to attend. She goes to St. Paul’s because she says it does more work than the local church and she wants to work and give back. Patricia is an example of a strong, hard working Christian Swazi mother. She has done well. One of her daughters is a nurse, the other a teacher. Patricia believes you have to have a vision in life; a vision so that others don’t have to take care of you.

As we walked around her land, laughing and talking with ease and as I drove home alone through the Swaziland countryside waving at most everyone I passed, I was so aware and grateful of Gods many blessings. God wanted me to see and understand that not everything in Swaziland is hopeless. There is a lot of beauty and a lot of mother’s (and father’s) who are working hard to raise their families with the best values they can in the best way they know how. Women like you and me.

I drove home, following Patricia’s directions, through the small, well kept farms, cows grazing by the road, with the sun starting to go down in the sky, feeling very comfortable and knowing that all is not hopeless. I felt I had received a beautiful gift that afternoon: the gift of friendship and the sharing of two people’s lives.
I ask you to pray for Patricia and her family. Please pray that she is able to continue to work towards her dreams. Please pray for all of the other Swazi families that are working hard to create a better world and a better set of work ethics in their children.

1 comment:

Janet Cavalier said...

I think by first post just disappeared into cyberspace because I did not first establish an identity. I hate when that happens! Anyway... It is so good to finally find time to read your blog. The team from Munholland is getting so excited about coming to work with you in May. Reading your blog will help us better understand how coming we might work with you, show you and those you work with that God's love is so large that it can reach around the world, planting seeds of faith that can grow into beautiful relationships.
Thank you for sharing stories like your most recent post about Patricia. I will keep her and her family in my prayers.
I will be in touch.