Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lutsando Lwa Krestu - For the Love of Jesus

Today we went to Salukazi Methodist Primary School to bring the Lutsando Lwa Krestu project to our second school. This project was started by a grant from what was then called the National Children’s Home in England. It is a 3 year grant with the goal to help children who either are HIV+ or have AIDS or who are at risk for becoming HIV+. We also help the most vulnerable of the vulnerable children. The first school we went to, Lutfotja Methodist Primary, we started by visiting 4 families identified by the head teacher and counselor at the school. (I use the term counselor loosely. She is a teacher who has taken a few extra seminars and is then appointed by the head teacher to take on this role for almost no extra pay. It is a “other duties as assigned” type of thing. My experience has been that most of the teachers acting in this capacity have a HUGE heart.)

Anyway, back to Lutfotja: After working at Lutfotja we ended up getting involved with 12 families. We could have helped 100 families, but out goal is to go to all of the schools and institute this program at each school. With the funds for this grant we help pay school fees, we pay transport so the children can go to the Doctor or clinic to get their monthly ARV medication, we’ve helped some families with fencing and seedlings so they could grow their own food, and we’ve helped some kids with uniforms and shoes. The need varies depending on the situation. Our goal is to help them help themselves and not to make them dependent on us. Although I must say, I wonder what will happen when the funds are gone. We are working on the sustainability part of this project. So, per our plan, today we moved to Salukazi. Salukazi actually has the highest OVC rate of all the Methodist schools in Central Circuit. We had our initial meeting today with the Deputy Teacher who is also acting as the school’s counselor. She also invited the Rural Health Motivator (RHM) who is appointed by the chief. Her job is to know the health issues and status of all the families in the chiefdom. We were also going to invite a woman from the local Methodist society, but as God would plan it, the RHM is a member of Salukazi Methodist Church!

The Deputy teacher and the RHM had a list of 12 families for us to help. Most of the children on the list are either single or double orphans. The number of children in these 12 families who will actually be helped by this program probably well exceeds 20. They also had a second list of about 12 families. We put them in group 2 meaning IF we could take on more families, we would start with group 2 children. The number of families that need help is overwhelming. We have to limit the number of children we can help for obvious reasons. But it is very hard to tell the child that we may help him or her in the future. Most of the conversations with the children are in SiSwati so I can’t understand most of it. I get the highlights at the end. I figure my role is to pray over each child, the teachers and the volunteers while they are gathering basic information about the child and their family.

From Salukazi we went to La Mawandla High School to talk with the school and Mthokoisiwe. The District Manyano have given Mthokoisiwe a bursery grant for 5 years so he can attend high school. The Manyano are having their yearly convention next week in South Africa and they want Mthokoisiwe to attend. This is no simple task. He had to get his birth certificate and then apply for a passport so he can leave Swaziland. We also have to get everything he needs for school so the District Manyano treasurer can reimburse us for the costs. The really wonderful thing about this is that the Head Teacher and now the Deputy Teacher know Mthokoisiwe’s story and are looking out for him. They are so grateful that the Methodist Church is helping him and that we come to check on him. Today while we were in the Deputy’s office talking a young teacher walked by and stopped to say hello. Come to find out, he grew up in the Methodist Church in the youth group that was headed by a young man who is now a Reverend here in Swaziland. This teacher leads a group of students every day at lunch called the Scripture Club. He now knows Mthokoisiwe and has told him he needs to come every day to the club so he can help him as well. The little hairs on my neck and arm stood up and I felt a shiver all over. I know that was a moment planned and ordained by God. God is SO awesome. The other highlight of this visit is just seeing Mthokoisiwe’s smiling face. He is always so happy to see us. He is a special young man who I think is learning that many people love him and care for him (and his sisters).

So as usual, we had two extremes today and it was so obvious that God was very present in both situations.

Lutsando Lwa Krestu…For the love of Jesus.

Pictured from Left: Volunteers Thembi, Thoko, Gladys & Thini, Ann Dlamini the Deputy Teacher, and Mrs. Zubuko the RHM.

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