This week has brought more reunions with the people, especially the women of the church and in my Bible studies. It has been so good to see everyone after such a long time away. Either I must have looked pretty stressed before I left or my trip home did me a world of good (or maybe a bit of both) because everyone talks about how much better I look and how rested and happy I am. I thank God for the time spent in the
My friend Thoko and I went up to Lomngeletjane to re-measure the children for school uniforms and check on the progress of the school. Thoko is the woman in a red t-shirt with a black hat in the pictures below. She is the Social Concerns Manyano lady who I’ve come to know and love. It was so good to go back up there and see the teachers and the children. Progress is being made on the school, but there is a lot of work to be done before the school can be finished and registered, dedicated and opened. We would like to have it opened before winter comes because the temporary building will not keep the cold wind and temperatures out. While I was there, I learned that the children don’t have a temporary toilet. There is a pit toilet for the adults at the church, but the seat made out of blocks and cement is too high and too big for the children to use. Therefore, the children are going wherever they want to in what is the school and church yard. It is very unhealthy. I also discovered that someone had brought what looks like a big tractor tire to the school yard for the children to play on. Indeed, several children were playing on it when we arrived. However, upon closer inspection, the tire was full of very gross standing, green water. While we were there a member of the newly formed school committee which is comprised of parents and members of the community came to have a meeting with the teachers. I was able to point out these areas of concern and ask that they be rectified. He was also very concerned and said they would resolve the issues. He suggested maybe someone could puncture holes in the side wall on the tire so that the water could drain and that a small pit toilet could be dug for the children to use until the formal school is finished. It was very encouraging, but I will see if those items are actually resolved and how long it takes. Thoko and I came back after about 4 hours at Lomngeletjane. We thought we would be there for about an hour and a half. It was time well spent and several issues were raised by the school committee members, the teachers and I. We discussed the issues so that we could all work together for the common good. Kubambisana.
Today was another lesson in the ways of the Swazi’s. One of the things I learned today is the process used to verify that a child is an OVC (Orphaned and Vulnerable Children). The chiefdoms have “home based carers” appointed by the Chief’s inner council. These people are responsible for knowing and checking on the health and welfare of the members of the community. Each Cheifdom also has a Cheifrunner who does just what his name implies. It is his responsibility to make sure documents which need to be filed or obtained from the government are obtained. I am sure he has many other duties. But for the purposes of my work, he is the person who should have or obtain the death certificates to verify if a child is a single or double orphan. I will work with the teacher and school committee chairperson from Lomngeletjane to learn the process and then work with it to verify and register the OVC’s (orphaned and vulnerable children) that are and will be attending Lomngeletjane. This process is the start of what has to be done to register the children as an OVC so that the school can receive government subsidy for the children’s school fees. The subsidy isn’t enough to pay the entire fee, but it is better than nothing. It is a start to get services for the children.