Swaziland is a nation full of juxtapositions.
The serenity of the rolling Lubombo mountains, the majestic wildlife that prowl across the plains are a striking contrast against the reality for the people of Swaziland. The future appears dim for a country with a life expectancy of 49.7 years and a HIV prevalence rate of 27.4%. These are the statistics, the negative ramifications of the poverty ecosystem are confronting. However, looking beyond these statistics, the meaning and importance of family is the centre of Swaziland – the beating heart that sends vitality and endurance to all those experiencing the various trials of adversity.
In Swaziland, the environment – a family’s good fortune, their socioeconomic status – is exquisitely sensitive to change. When one factor, such as water or income is affected, other variables such as food security and access to healthcare too are diminished. This is what the Swazi people triumph above everyday. But I do not want to focus on the frailty of the economic dissonance or social disparity. Rather, I choose to pay tribute to and herald the championship of the Swazi people – their resilience, innovation and compassion; characteristics that are all to frequent amongst the Swazis – traits that unify this community.
I was given a new found appreciation towards the gift of sharing. Living in a country where we are blessed in the ability to access all that we desire often makes us unaware of how the act of giving can initiate a cascade of positivity, growth and dreaming within others. I will always remember the small community of families that reside near Maghe Lindiwe* and her three children. Food is limited here, as all she had was a small bag of maize, that if stretched would feed her family for one night. The solution here is linked to the kindness of neighbours who share the maize they have. This is the common understanding where wellbeing is uplifted by the joint support of all individuals. Intrinsic to the culture of Swaziland is the inherent attitude of persevering against all odds. No family, orphan or elder is left behind in this fight. The spirit of togetherness is embedded within this culture
Generosity is the hallmark of the Swazi people, as the individual is not at the centre of this environment, rather here in Swaziland you cannot dissociate the individual from the community. They are one person where everyone faces the hardships together, in support and hope for a more prosperous future. For a country experiencing poverty in its extreme, the Swazi’s are wealthy in their compassion or strong sense of unity – lessons we can all take away and apply to the life of privilege we have here. *Names have been DE-identified for purposes of confidentiality.