We are back from our short weekend trip to Swaziland ~ 15 and 16 August. We visited three (3) Children’s HopeChest care points: Bhalekane, Beveni and Thembeni. It was an awesome experience to see and experience what is already happening at the care points and the growth and successes they have. This is where things are happening! At the Thembeni care point we met up with the team from Capo Beach Calvary Church. Yip and they are from the sunny California! They have “adopted” the care point and shipped a container to Swaziland with playground equipment, bicycles, clothes, shoes, soccer balls, books, etc. We where there when they opened the container and we assisted with the unloading of the equipment. You should have seen the children’s faces!! But despite all the excitement I have never seen so much discipline. Heidi drew a line in the ground and asked the children to stay behind the line to maintain some form of order ~ and behind the line they stayed oo’ing and aa’ing.
But maybe I should give you a short background of the care points:
There are 22 Children’s HopeChest care points in Swaziland. At these care points children are provided with at least two (2) meals per day, clothing, school and medical attention. The basis of these programs is the discipleship. About 2 700 children are being cared for there every day. Bhalekane and Thembeni care points already have a school, kitchen, an all-purpose hall, bathrooms, soccer field, running water, electricity and rooms where the outreach teams, etc. can stay. Beveni care point started of with a small building of sticks, clay and a zinc roof. Now they have a small kitchen and school. They are still struggling with running water and most of the other resources. The small camp for a vegetable garden is in place and waiting for the seedlings. Watch this space for more news on especially Beveni! We would like to support them with their vegetable garden and the painting of their kitchen. And in Florida USA Deb Gangemi and a group of wonderful people are busy raising funds for the plumbing, showers and other resources at Beveni.
I’ve been following Tom Davis and Children’s HopeChest for a few months now and have finished Scared ~ A Novel on the Edge of the World written by Tom Davis a few weeks ago; and would like to share a few thoughts on the book. What makes Scared such an amazing book? It’s scaringly straight forward, based on real life stories, it’s very graphic and it’s about Swaziland. Publisher, David C. Cook says in his note in the beginning of the book:
“Child advocate and speaker Tom Davis gives us a gripping portrayal of the hurt and pain that affects many in Africa. This story reminds us of our need to be engaged in being light in a very dark world. Some scenes will grip and haunt you, some passages you will want to run away from – but this is real life. And real life requires true Christ followers to act justly and love mercy. May Adanna’s story inspire and embolden you.”
That is exactly what happened to me. I’ve always had a passion for the hungry, hurt and abandoned and I love Swaziland and its people ~ but while reading this book things started to change in me … I experienced true compassion. Not just that “shame, the poor things” or “it’s so sad” type of feeling but gut wrenching compassion. And seeing and spending time with the children and the people working with them, this weekend just made the feelings so much stronger.
We know that Swaziland has one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates and we know that there are thousands of orphans in the country, but that’s about all we know. Latest figures are indicating that from the one million or more people only 900 000 are left. That is the huge impact HIV/Aids has on the country. We don’t really realize the huge impact it has on these people’s lives, we don’t know how they live each and every day, we are not aware of the true struggles in the country. The plights of the children are basically the following:
“ Both of her parents died from AIDS, then a distant uncle took her in. Her life was reduced to the life of a slave. She was forced to work fifteen hours a day, and her uncle sold her body to men in the community so he could have money for alcohol. Then he began violently raping her on a daily basis.” (Tom Davis – Scared)
And that is the story of so many little girls in Africa. Currently there is a 9-year-old boy caring for his two (2) little siblings of about 5- and two years after both his parents died of Aids. Can you imagine being 9-years old and suddenly being the head of a household? Where do you start? How do you provide? How do you protect? Luckily Matt Gerber from International Discipleship Ministries Adventures in Missions/Children’s Hope Chest,
and his team found them and is looking after them! I cannot think for one second anymore that it is not my problem … This is within 400-kilometer from my home ~ hunger, abuse, poverty, death, and destruction are all on my doorstep and yours.
Yes, Adanna’s story did “embold” me to take a step and do something. It did shake me into action. And it was not that difficult and it surely was not that impossible. We can sit around in our comfort zones and think of excuses not to get involved or we can get of our couches and start making a difference. The choice is yours. Get involved where you are – locally, found out what is the available platform where you can get involved. Ask the church where you can serve. Matt told us that these children’s biggest need is not just food and clothes, but love and care. Someone hugging them, holding them and praying with them.
Visit http://www.threadsofhopewovenbygod.blogspot.com for more information on especially Beveni Care Point.
Also the team of International Discipleship Ministries Adventures in Missions:
You can also visit the Children’s HopeChest Web site to find out how to get involve in these children’s lives – http://www.hopechest.org. I’m also urging you to get hold of Scared. Visit the Scared publicity page at http://tomdavis.typepad.com/tom_daviss_blog/scared-publicity-page.html. Or the blog of Tom Davis at www.tomdavis.typepad.com where you will find photographs of Swaziland and much more.
I by no means want you to feel guilty, but I do want you to realize that the Body of Christ is ineffective because of our passiveness and that it is time to do something about it. It is time to make a commitment and be active; we cannot wait for some time in the future or a place “far, far away” where I can do something spectacular. The time is now, the place is here and the platform is already waiting for you.
WHAT ARE WE DOING IN SWAZILAND?
- We are still building relationships with the people of Swaziland. We are already supporting Caiaphas Magagula from New Covenant Church in Manzini. He is in urgent need of chairs for his church – he indicated that he needs about 50 chairs. If you want to sow into his ministry you can sponsor a chair for R77-00.
- We are also supporting Emmanuelle with his Open-Market-Ministry. Emmanuelle has being preaching at the Open Market for the past 15-years from Monday to Friday. We already gave Emmanuelle with a sound-system, keyboard and Bibles. This is an awesome ministry and Emmanuelle is able to reach so much more people because of the sound-system and music!!
- Once a year we attend the LTT in Swaziland. This is being arranged by the New Covenant Church every year, usually in September. LTT stands for Leadership Training Time and the main focus is to equip the Elders/Pastors in Swaziland. The LTT is for a week, usually in September.
- During our August visit in Swaziland we felt that we would like to get involved with one of the care points. The one that really touched our hearts was Beveni, mainly because there is still so much need there. All the children at the care point has sponsors, but there is little things like the painting of the kitchen to keep it clean and hygienic, the vegetable garden that is currently just a little camp with a fence, running water to the care point and clothes and toys for the kids.
- Every year Children’s HopeChest give Christmas parties for all the children at the care points. This year we would like to assist with the Christmas party at Beveni. Guess what’s the children’s’ Christmas wish? Not toys, clothes or food … but a cake.
If you would like to reach out to Swaziland, you are welcome to contact me at:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com