Sunday, September 13, 2009

A new home for the Nhlengethwa Family on 8/29/2009

Finally, after eight months, Mthokozisi and his sisters have a decent roof over their heads with walls that aren’t collapsing, windows and a door that actually locks. As a quick review, I met Mthokozisi and his sisters last August (2008) when we went to the homestead where the children were living as part of our Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu (For the love of Jesus) project. The children had been brought to our attention by the head teacher for Lutfotja Methodist Primary School. We were told the children are extremely vulnerable because both parents had basically deserted the children. We started making regular visits to the homestead bringing them food and seedlings to make a vegetable garden. In November, 2008, after a pretty severe rain storm, they told us that their thatched roof was leaking and that termites where dropping out of it. Just before I returned to the US in early December, I bought them a large piece of plastic to put over the thatched roof to hopefully stop the rain and insects from dropping on the children. Then in February after I returned from the US we discovered that the mud and stick hut had collapsed during the heavy rains in January. (See my blog post of 2/11/09 for pictures of the collapsed hut.) Although I wanted to just buy the building materials and hire someone to build them a new small house, I knew that was not the right thing to do for many reasons, the biggest one being that I needed to be patient and let the Swazi’s solve this problem their own way. This was not a problem I could solve and if I tried, I knew I would only make matters worse. So I’ve tried to be patient, poking people for progress a few times when I couldn’t stand waiting any longer. The patience has paid off. Thoko, in her infinite wisdom, patiently contacted the father, talked with the chairman of the school committee, the Rural Health Motivator (who is appointed by the Chief), the children, the mother, the father’s parents and the local Methodist Society. The Rural Health Motivator brought the situation to the Chief’s inner council. After many conversations and meetings, permission was given by all involved for the children to go live in their father’s house on the father’s parent’s homestead. The father and his parents are estranged and therefore the father rarely goes to that house.

On August 18, Thoko, Thini, the Lutfotja CCS (Manyano community service person) and I took Mthokozisi to talk with the grandparents to make sure they were okay with the children coming to live on their homestead and to see how much work needed to be done in preparation of the children moving in. We determined that everyone seemed very willing for the children to live on the fraternal grandparent’s house. The house and yard needed to be cleaned and the house has a lot of cracks and it is full of the little tunnels of dirt that the termites had dug but it is much better than where they were currently living.

On Tuesday, August 25, Thoko, Thini, the Lutfotja CCS, Jeri and I went to see if the children were at their grandparents house cleaning up the house and yard so we could move their things over. We really went to see if they needed any help. The children were there working and seemed very happy. We visited for awhile, and then the Grandfather wanted to show us where they are to build their own house. We walked a short distance to an area on the homestead that the grandfather indicated. He said he wanted their house to be built close to his house so that he and his wife could keep an eye on the children. He gave an emotional speech in SiSwati to the children welcoming them to their new home and telling them how happy he was to have them there. When he was finished, he took two handfuls of the tall grass without pulling them out of the ground and tied the tall grass into a knot to mark the spot for their new home. It was very touching. Everyone seems to be so glad that this move is taking place. After this little ceremony we all got to work raking the yard, putting the trash and junk that was burnable into a pile which Thini lit a match to. Yes, all that burning makes me cringe, but what else are they going to do with it? At least it was all gone. It is amazing what burns. We finished our day with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and oranges for all.


1. The spot where Babe Nhlengethwa tied the knot marking the spot for the children’s new house.

2. Working in the yard.

3. Thoko, Jeri and I preparing PBJ sandwiches.

4. Lunch time.

The children and their grandparents are happy and looking forward to the move. You can almost feel the relief and hope. Everyone's step is a little lighter, their smile a little brighter.

On Friday, August 28, Thoko, Thini, Gladys, the Lutfotja CCS, the rural health motivator, Gary, Jeri and I went to the grandparent’s homestead. Thoko and I drove to the father’s homestead to pick up the children and their belongings and take them to the grandparents homestead. Then we all worked together for a few hours replacing the door to the house and hanging new curtains Gladys had made for the house. Since I was paying for the material, I got to pick the color so of course I picked blue. My mother's and my favorite color! She would be so happy. I don't think there have ever been blue curtains in a house in Swaziland before! Gary showed Mthokozisi how to take the door off the hinges and then Gary got help from Thini as he trimmed the door. (In reality, Thini showed Gary up in how well she could work that saw to trim off the sides and bottom of the door so it would fit!)


1. Gladys and Mthokozisi hanging the new curtains.

2. Thini so proud of herself when she finished trimming the new door.

3. Mthokozisi painting the new door.

On Saturday, August 29, we all went back to the homestead with Rev. Nyameka, Thobile and Elter to pray over the homestead. We were met by the members of the Luftotja Manyano. After praying in the home we went and prayed over the land where the children’s new home is to be built. It was a very moving time. This has been a long process and we are a long way from a secure happy ending, but things are going extremely well. The best part of it is that the children know that people care for them. They know they can tell someone at the church or at the school if they need something and if the church or school can’t help they will let Thoko and I know so we can make it happen. One of the discussions that happened on Saturday was the discussion of whether the children should start attending a Methodist church that would be closer to their new homestead. We know there are schools that are closer, but we have all decided that we would rather find a way to pay bus fare to get the children to and from school to keep them in an environment where they are loved and looked after. When the discussion of the church came up the same decision was made. So even though the children now live further away from their school and the church the school and church aren’t about to let them go. So, as we try to figure out how we are going to pay for bus fare for the children to get to and from school (both where the funds will come from and how we will get them to the children each week) we must include bus fare for the kids to go to church each Sunday. That’s a great additional problem to have.


1. Blessing of the homestead.

2. Blessing of the house.

3. I presented the children a gift for their new home. I gave Mthokozisi a Bible and to Nozipho (the oldest girl) a book of Children’s Bible Stories to read to Tiphelele (the youngest girl).

4. Blessing of the ground for the new house.

5. Me sharing some of my favorite books of the bible and specific passages with Mthokozisi and Nozipho.

We pray that the Lord keeps blessing and watching over these children, that they grow strong in their knowledge and faith in the Lord and that they grow up to be strong Christian men and women.

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