Orphans of HIV
The remote roads of KaPhunga.
This past week I drove into the highest concentration of HIV/Aids in the entire world. Swaziland is infested with the disease and it has devastated the adult population in the last ten years. There are over 56,000 orphans in this tiny little African country.
The country is very beautiful. Majestic mountains, rolling hills and deep v shaped valleys mask the silent killer among the people. Life is basic and the most difficult tasks are the essential needs to sustain life. Finding usable water and food.
Almost three years ago God connected us with Ronas Marule a missionary in the neighboring South African province of Mpumalanga. His mother-in-law is Numsa Lukhele a significant leader in the rural villages of Southern Swaziland. She and Ronas established a ministry to train and feed orphans in an eight village area.
Numsa has recruited 29 mothers and grandmothers in those eight villages to be a care giver to children in each area. She secured fields from the local chiefs to allow children to plant corn for food. Each of the care givers plant a vegetable garden to supplement the corn. Numsa raises chickens for eggs and sells them to help sustain the needs of the children. It is a massive operation because these villages hold over 900 orphans in this remote area.
We climbed into a van with Numsa, Ronas and the son of Numsa to visit some of the villages. We drove for over an hour down bumpy and dusty gravel roads to the village of Ngobelweni. This area is one of the most remote areas they serve. The care giver, Maria, met us at her home and showed us around. Numsa was suggesting a water well be placed here to serve the 120 children and families who live in the secluded area.
We spent the entire day looking at villages and meeting families who serve these children. The final visit was to the village of Eyishineni late in the day. We actually had to abandon our vehicle and walk the final stretch up to the homes.
I was introduced to three children who had been discovered eating mud after their parents had died. Sandile, Mcolisi and lindelwa were wonderful kids. Sandile was shy and would not smile despite my attempts to get him to do so. His pants were torn at the crotch. They were torn on the seam of the leg and torn in the seat. You could see his embarrassment as he tried to hide the openings. It was his only pair of pants.
The family who took the children in was Albert and Thuli and their children. They were obviously dirt poor. They sat on grass mats on the soil. Albert had broken his leg and is now out of work. Numsa had brought a large bag of mealies for their food.
I have much to process about my visit to Swaziland. It takes my breath away to grasp the enormity of the problems. I guess I can more clearly understand the feelings of the disciples when Jesus asked them to feed the 5,000.
I had to pause and reflect when we went through customs and returned to South Africa. The agent, well aware of Ka-Phunga and its isolated issues, was surprised that an American was visiting the remote area. She looked around Ronas to see this white man who would stopover at such a hopeless place. It made no sense to the agent that someone would list Ka-Phunga as a tourist destination.
Thank you so much for your prayer. I preach in Graskop today and do the same for Easter weekend in a community called Kinross. This will be my final week in Africa before returning home a week from Tuesday.
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Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.