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Saturday, November 7, 2015

No, you are not allowed to grab her breasts at work!


Adding a cute photo 'cause I can't post any photos pertaining to this blog.
I have written a lot about our babies, the farm, our challenges, HIV/TB and other health related topics.

Today I want to tell you about something that will be “new news” to even our most die hard followers and supporters.

A few months ago we started something called “Lehora lekufundza”.  Simply translated it means “lunch’n’learn”.  It’s a concept that most people in Canada and the US are familiar with if you are in a corporate environment.  You bring your lunch and sit for an hour while someone talks about a topic that is relevant to the company or to you personally (or so you hope).

Many of our workers can not read or write. Many only got through grade 4 before their parents couldn’t pay for their education anymore or they had to stop school to work and help the family with chores or income.  Some have finished High School and might even have a Post-Secondary diploma.  One of the many things I have learned in the last few months is that education is so much more than schooling.

Out of a personal frustration around the amount of rape, incest, domestic violence, STD’s, new HIV infections and TB transmission we encounter every day/week I literally cried out to God and asked what I could do to try to stop these destructive (and often evil) behaviors.

I met with the highest levels of Government Health Officials, NGO’s, Police officers, Social Welfare Officers and even Pastors to see what we could do to stop the death and destruction.  In the end, I felt the Lord telling me to start with Project Canaan.

And so it began.  First, I met with all of the women who work on Project Canaan and listened to many of their challenges and woes.  I wept with them and we had a few laughs too.  Then I met with all of the men at Project Canaan and shared my heart with the challenges that I am seeing the women and children going through here and in the communities around us.

After many meetings over a period of several months, we formed a very structured adult education program that will address a long list of questions and issues that have been given to me by a committee whom we call the “Project Canaan Social Safety Committee”.

Each month there are two education days. A guest Educator (specialist in that area) speaks for 60-90 minutes to the baby home Aunties, then they move to Khutsala & Construction, then to the farm workers and then back up to the toddler home Aunties and teachers.  Once a month we have a “health” topic (HIV/TB/STD’s/family planning etc) and once a month we also have a “social” topic (domestic violence/incest/reporting rape/sexual harassment etc).

We started the series with Ian and I telling who we are, how we got here, why we are in Swaziland, what Project Canaan is and why they are a part of it.  You know, I assumed they all knew those things, but alas, only our Supervisors did.

The next most critical topic was HIV/AIDS.  I thought that EVERYONE in Swaziland had been overeducated on the topic of HIV transmission/health/treatment.  And in actuality, that is true. But they had so much false information that they couldn’t separate the truth from the lies.  We have a LONG road ahead to totally solve this issue, but we are working on it.

Our topic of Sexual Harassment at work was moved right up next to HIV/AIDS when I learned that it was VERY COMMON for men to walk up to women at work (AT PROJECT CANAAN!) and just grab their breasts or their hips and make a very sexually derogatory comments and want to have sex with them in the bush.  I literally had to say to a guy, “No, uou are NOT allowed to grab her breast at work! Or at any time any where if she doesn’t want you to!”  I could write volumes on this, but won’t today. 

Yesterday we had the very best talk yet.  The topic was Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases (fun eh?).  The speaker brought huge color photos of the worst cases of herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital warts, public lice and ulcers you could ever imagine. At the end of each session there was no one in the place who planned to EVER have sex again. I am thinking of getting those photos blown up and posting them all over the property (not sure Ian will allow this when he gets back from the US J). 

At the end of the day it was reported that several people waited at the clinic to be tested for STI’s that they had been suffering with for months. They were so thankful for the education session and were so thankful that we had a nurse who could help them immediately.

Most days I LOVE my job, but there are many dark and discouraging days too.  Yesterday (in a strange and twisted kind of way) was a highlight for me.  We are starting to break through. The gift of knowledge is the best gift that can ever be given to someone, and we are starting to do that with our employees in a mighty way.

Thank you for reading this long blog to the bitter end, so that YOU TOO can become more educated about what is happening on Project Canaan, in the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland.

Live from Swaziland … Jesus bring the rain.

Janine

PS - I can't possibly post photos related to this blog so will just post some cute baby photos for those of you who like pictures :)

Junior's 3rd birthday.

Ruth enjoying a pear after her piece of birthday cake.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for keeping US educated.

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  2. You are moving mountains and very successful! Thankful God put you on this earth!

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  3. Great work you are doing Janine. I am excited to meet you in June as I will be traveling with Amy and Chad Gregory. I would be more than happy to lead a lunch and learn. I have worked in perinatal medicine for 22 years at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, GA. Northside Hospital is the undisputed leader in maternity services, delivering more babies a year than any other community hospital in the USA.

    What would you think about a the topic The importance of prenatal care in pregnancy with an emphasis on infection and transmission risk from mother to baby?

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    1. Hi MIchelle, thanks for your note. Let's chat by email. Janine@Heartforafrica.org. Looking forward to meeting you in June!

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