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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Never-ending rain, another pit latrine baby and an intervention of sorts

Swaziland is in a 20-year drought.  Both our dams were dry last week.  Very few people in the country had any kind of successful harvest last year and ours was down 65% vs. the year before … all because of weather (lack of water mostly, but also wind).  Water is life and we can’t make it rain, only HE can.

In Swaziland we don’t have “summer” and “winter” we have “rainy season” and “dry season”.  The rainy season starts at the end of October and goes until March.  Last year we had virtually no rain, which leaves us with no water to irrigate crops during the dry season as we had hoped and planned.

This is usually a small bridge - we cross over it to get home
Dam #2 is starting to fill!

We have been praying for rain (which seems a bit senseless during the already dry season because it would be out of season to get rain).  It has only rained once since we moved here on June 1st and that was the day that our friends from the International Egg Commission and the American Egg Board stepped foot on Project Canaan in August (a “lucky” and much appreciated gesture).  When we arrived back from the US on Tuesday at 2PM the rains started as we were unpacking the car (not that our arrival had anything to do with it, but that is how I know when it started because I got wet!).  It is now Saturday morning and the rains continue to pour, the ground is saturated and the runoff from the hills around us is starting to fill both our dams.  We are thankful, but we are also stuck … literally.  There has been 6 feet of water rise up and now covers the bridge that we use to get to town (office, school, gas station, grocery store, airport, hospitals … you get my point, eh?).  I am glad that I have a fully stocked pantry, tetra milk for my coffee and matches in case the power goes out.

Many people around the world have been praying for rain and it has come without ceasing. Be careful what you pray for – you just might get it!
Baby Joy arriving home.

Okay, on to our new bundle of joy.  Yes, her name is “Joy” and she came to us on Tuesday at the tender age of ten days.  She was dropped in a pit latrine (outhouse/toilet) when she was born and thankfully someone heard her cry and climbed down in to get her out.  She was immediately taken to the police and hospital to be cared for while an investigation took place.  As you might guess, the mother was found and is now in prison for attempting to kill her baby. Same story, different faces.  Joy is a beautiful baby and we are thankful for our fourth little girl.  We have eight boys and now the ratio is a solid two to one.

On Thursday I spent the day with Gcabile (one of our wonderful caregivers at El Roi) and Robert Smucker (volunteer extraordinaire) trying to have an intervention of sorts and get ahead of the problem of baby dumping.  We know that Emmanuel’s16-year-old mother is almost ready to give birth to her third child, (Emmanuel lives at El Roi and is 13 months old).  The mother is HIV positive and sometimes lives in a bus shelter.  She does not want the baby in her belly and we fear that she will give birth and “dump it”, just like Joy’s mother did.  So we spent the day with her, trying to encourage her to get pre-natal medical care and promise to go to see our wonderful doctor friend at the hospital when labor begins.  But she is afraid of hospitals (both of her first two children were born in someone else’s home because she had been kicked out of her family homestead for her bad behavior=pregnancy).  She is also very young, mentally unstable and is refusing to take live-saving Anti-retro-virals so this was a very difficult day for us all.

In the end, after a short, but unsuccessful visit to the hospital we were able to negotiate “plan B”.  Gcabile’s sister-in-law kindly agreed to allow this young girl to live with them until the baby is born.  I don’t know many people who would offer that to a stranger, do you?

Emmanuel and his mom.
There were times on Thursday that I found myself asking myself if I was helping her only because she had asked that her baby would be able to go to live at El Roi?  And the answer is complicated.  Yes and no.  I would want to help her either way, but sometimes helping is hard to do and people have to want to be helped (and have the capacity to accept help) in order to be helped.  The flip side is thinking about a newborn baby being left in a ditch or on the side of a road or in a filthy, bacteria filled pit latrine.  Wouldn’t you want to get ahead of it if you could?  We will accept her baby (if she still decides she doesn’t want him/her) whether she has dumped him or not, but I would rather give her the choice of making a healthy decision rather than one that will haunt her the rest of her life, which won’t be long if she continues in this lifestyle and without ARV’s. 

This was such an encouraging week to everyone who is living here at Project Canaan.  God’s love, His provision, His promises were seen and felt every minute of the day (even when scooping after our 5 dogs who don’t like the rain and really like our front patio to do their business).  He is faithful, He is Holy, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and His plans are perfect, but they rarely look like our plans. 

Thank you all for continuing to read this blog. I am truly overwhelmed by the comments I get (most of them positive so far J ) and to know that so many people are praying with us and for us here at Project Canaan. 

Live from Swaziland … we are thinking of building a raft (or ark!)!



  1. Good morning Janine

    So thankful that God has sent you rain.....It was just last Sunday that our Pastor talked about Elijah and his prayer for rain, 1 Kings 18:41. He hears our prayers and sends abundance!
    What a miracle that someone heard the cries of little Joy in that latrine! I'm praying for her. Now that she is being loved and cared for at El Roi I'm sure she will thrive. I will also be praying for Gcabile and the baby she is soon to deliver. May she discover the love and peace of our Lord Jesus!

  2. May Joy grow up to be one of those people who bring joy to this poor trouble earth. May God be close to all of you.

    Love you,


  3. WOW, you have been made strong in the Lord to endure not only the climate hardships, but the physical and emotional aspects that wear at the very core of your being. Only thruough Jesus can you do these things. He has promised us that He would not leave us to our own resources, but we can draw upon His resources and they are unlimited! John 14:12-14. Baby Joy shares my name therfore I will easily remember to keep her in my prayers.


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