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.