On May 31st, 2012 the Maxwell family boarded a plane and moved to Swaziland to live at Project Canaan. I hope to update my blog on Saturday mornings and share, as honestly as I can, the highs and lows of our life in Africa. We are living on a farm in a remote part of this tiny Kingdom and are serving the community as well as the orphans and vulnerable children of the nation. The 365 day count down started on June 1st, 2011, but the real journey begins now. Thanks for joining us.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011
One young mother dies, one unborn baby dies, four more children are orphaned in Swaziland. Jesus have mercy.
One of the primary objectives of Project Canaan is to provide training and employment for people in the community surrounding the farm, and beyond. Ideally we would be hiring men who would then take their incomes and provide food, water, shelter and education for their children However statistics clearly show that in Africa if you pay a woman, she will feed and provide for her family. If you pay a man he is much more likely to spend it on beer, cigarettes and things other than his family. Let me tell you about one of the women who has worked at Project Canaan since the fall of 2009.
Her name was Stula (which is a nickname meaning "hefty" in siSwati). She was a bright, friendly, robust Swazi woman who spoke excellent english and worked hard to provide for her four children. She was pregnant with her fifth child and until last week still showed up on the farm every day to work. Last Thursday that baby was very overdue and Stula made her way to the local clinic where she was told that she must go immediately to the Nazarene hospital in Manzini (one of the best hospitals in the country). She and her sister took public transportation (a small crowded bus) and when they got there Stula was induced with pills. When the pills did not work they gave her an injection which brought labor on hard and fast. As she cried out for help and moved into a state of distress, the nurse who had been attending her left to find a doctor. By the time the doctor arrived, Stula was dead. And so was her unborn baby girl.
Stula was 29 years old.
The four orphans (ages 4 to 10) who have been left behind will live with Stula's mother, and the orphan statistics bump up another notch. Grandma, or "Gogo" as she would be called there, also works at Project Canaan, but may have to quit her job completely to care for her grandchildren. She is in her 50's and has long outlived the average life expectancy in Swaziland of 29 years. To an outsider she looks to be more like a 70 year old woman.
The all night funeral vigil was on Saturday and I was moved to know that our Project Canaan farm team was able to take Stula's children to the funeral and be with them as they mourned.
Stula had her own open coffin and the baby girl (whom the family named Sibongile Khoza or "Thank you God") had her own little coffin next to her mom. The teams says the baby showed visible signs of distress prior to her death. This did not have to happen.
Stula and Sibongile Khoza are dancing with Jesus, and for that I am thankful, but I pray that their deaths are not in vain. I believe with my whole heart that if the Medical Center at Project Canaan had been built then Stula would have had easy access to prenatal care and someone to oversee her pregnancy. I therefore believe there is a VERY good chance that Stula and her baby would be alive today. She would have six mouths to feed, we would have a great farm worker and Swaziland would have four fewer orphans needing care.
According to the United Nations the infant mortality rate in the United States is 7.07 deaths for every 1,000 births (infants under the age of one year). The infant mortality rate in Swaziland is almost TEN TIMES that at 68.63 deaths for every 1,000 births. The infant mortality rate globally is 49.4 deaths for every 1,000 births. This is not okay with me. It does not need to be this way. I believe Stula is one woman we could have saved and I am more determined than ever to get our Medical Center built so that we can save the next "Stula" and her baby.
I won't ask you for money often, but I am today. If you can help us financially to build a medical/dental clinic on Project Canaan, please give today by clicking here. We still need almost $200,000 to make this dream and we believe that El Shaddai, God the Provider, will provide, maybe even through you. Thank you on behalf of all the "Stula's" in the Kingdom of Swaziland.