I find myself back in Swaziland five months after my first visit to this beautiful country. I had no expectation that my experience would touch me as significantly as it did, but the people here have an enduring charm- one that grabs hold and never lets go.
I call it the Swazi spirit; resilience, respect, resourcefulness – characteristics that unite the rural families we visit. There is an essence of community here; no one is left behind in their struggle as communities come together to collectively resist the negative ramifications of the insidious cycle of poverty and disease.
Undoubtably, Swaziland is a country full of juxtapositions.
We perceive African nations to be hidden gems, full of culture, majestic animals and rolling landscapes. This they truly are but nestled between South Africa and Mozambique, Swaziland is also home to the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. One quarter of the population are infected, yet this disease affects and impedes the development of numerous more. As we accompany the local Swazi PDI team, each household has been touched by the HIV epidemic.
Today I want to share with you the story of Mahke Matsenjwa* (all information has been de-identified) . Her husband, the sole breadwinner of the family, passed away in 2009 due to a combination of both HIV and TB. He leaves behind his wife and seven children in a single-roomed, incomplete structure with no windows.
With the help of PDI, we were able to install windows to protect the family; we provided mattresses, bedding, maize, beans, soup, candles, toothbrushes and toys to improve their standard of living so that they no longer remain vulnerable. Our next step is to establish an income generation project so that Mahke will no longer need to ask neighbours for assistance. Enabling this family to reach a degree of empowerment will consequently facilitate the growth of her children towards happier and healthier futures; towards significantly improving their quality of life.
For us back home, obtaining water and food is not a hard feat, we are at no risk of deprivation. For Mahke, to move forward with security in food, water and income will be a dream, an aspiration that can be achieved through the facilitation of PDI.
PDI need our support to continue to help realise the dreams of the rural poor. Help us makes the dreams of the sickest and poorest in Swaziland possible by donating on our website: http://www.possibledreams.org/donate-now/
– By Shalini Ponnampalam