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Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 – a wonderful and difficult year.

Miriam taking cookies from the Oasis, down to the toddlers. Be still my heart.
Photo credit: Chris Cheek

As the year comes to a close I wanted to share a few beautiful photos of the children at Project Canaan and give you just a quick glance of a wonderful and difficult year.

In 2015:

·      We received 21 children in 2015 giving us a total of 106 orphaned and abandoned babies (under the age of 5-years) whom we are legal guardians for until they finish High School.
·      We built 15 buildings including Emseni East and the Oasis where the big children live and eat.
·      Khutsala Artisans made and sold 13,000+ Christmas tree ornaments (thank you everyone who bought and sold them for us!).
·      Through our partnership with the International Egg Foundation and the Egg Farmers of Canada we will receive a flock of 2,500 chickens arriving on January 4th that will provide fresh eggs to feed the children of Swaziland.
·      We have a total of 30 church partners now, where we feed 2,100+ children every week. Starting in January they will all get a hard boiled, peeled, egg with each meal.
·      We are in the worst drought in recorded history which has made it impossible for people to plant their annually crops, it has killed thousands of farm animals and has sent maize prices soaring (expected to rise by 65% in the next 3 months).
·      We have seen miracle after miracle and have watched the mighty hand of God at work in the lives of people all over the world who are being called to help the children of Swaziland. 

On Christmas day Ian, Spencer, Chloe and I celebrated as we always do: stockings, coffee, gifts, Belgian waffles and lots of laughter. Since moving to Swaziland our tradition has expanded to include preparing a special brunch for all of the big kids (68) and all of our caregivers (54) and a few special guests.  Pancakes, bacon, fruit salad, whip cream and maple syrup are on the menu and everyone leaves full and sticky! Each child also received a beautifully wrapped pair of new pajamas and everyone was happy.

I am not sure there is any greater gift than to be able to serve these little children and all of the Aunties/Uncles who live with them 24/7 and are helping raise the future leaders of this nation. That is NOT an easy job. I also want to express my thanks for all of our long-term and short-term volunteers who come and serve so selflessly.  Each person contributes in a different way and we are thankful for each skill and ability they have been gifted with.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog this year, for your words of encouragement and for your support.   Thank you also for those who have given financially so that we could complete the work given to us to do.   I would like to ask you to consider making a year-end giving donation so that the work of Heart for Africa can continue in 2016.  Thank you for considering my request.

In the US: 

In Canada: 

Live from Swaziland … wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

An open letter to Project Canaan employees - STOP STEALING!

This blog is directed towards our Swazi brothers and sisters and may not be of any interest to my Western friends. I will have it translated in to siSwati and then print it out and posted on all the buildings on Project Canaan.  I don’t know if it will make any difference or have an impact on the unacceptable behavior or not, but we pray that the stealing will stop.

Dear Project Canaan employees,

There is a perception by many people in the West that sending funds to help in Africa is a waste of money.  There is a perception that everyone is corrupt and that everyone steals, so why should the rest of the world reach out and help?  We spend a lot of time and effort telling people that not everyone is corrupt and not everyone steals, and we put our own reputations on the line to commit to spending every dollar that is donated with integrity and truth.  And then someone steals, again.

Many weeks ago we met with each and every one of you and explained why we are here. We told you that we were called by God to quit our successful jobs, sell our house and leave our families in Canada so that could come and serve the Lord through the people of Swaziland.

We have worked night and day to build Project Canaan as the Lord has directed us.  We currently employ 280+ people so that each of you can buy food and clothing for your family as well pay school fees for your children. In fact, almost everyone in Gebeni and Sigceneni who is able or willing to work is employed here.  Some of you have even been able to get electricity installed in your house and some have even bought a car.

Can you imagine how discouraging it is for us to know that MANY of you are stealing from us?  Can you imagine what it means to know that some of our highest paid and highest trusted people have been stealing?  Yes, those very people who are responsible for managing the construction department and are entrusted with either ordering supplies or signing off on supplies when they arrive on Project Canaan?  We have put so many procedures in place over the past few years, and you work diligently to get around them, but this week they were caught and put in jail.

Police station
3 guys in handcuffs heading off to jail.  We are not fooling around here.

It’s hard for us to catch every one who is stealing, but please know that God sees you when you steal. I hate that we have to check every bag of every person that leaves the property, only then to find out that whole truckloads of cement have been stolen and re-sold for personal gain.  Shame on you.

And here’s the real issue – you aren’t stealing from a couple of white people from Canada.  You are stealing directly from the mouths of the orphans and vulnerable children of Swaziland and you are stealing from God. Do you think he doesn’t see what you take?  Do you think he doesn’t know when you steal diesel fuel, or fertilizer, or seed, or jewelry, or beads or wire or milk or children’s clothing?  He sees it all because he is El Roi – the God who sees! 

We may not be able to catch you all, but we have our eyes on you, and you will stand before the throne of God one day and HE will ask you why you stole from Him.

I pray that as you take time with your families this Christmas that you take time to re-think your positions here at Project Canaan.  We are here to serve the Lord, and we pray that HE will remove anyone who is not here to do the same thing.  In a country with a 70% unemployment rate, there are MANY people who would happily take your job.

Most sincerely written,

Ian and Janine Maxwell

Live from Swaziland … just keepin’ it real.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

“Baby dumping has become a bad habit”, says the Swazi police.

I know you have a lot to do to prepare for Christmas; shopping, baking, caroling, decorating and visiting with friends and family, so I will make this short (but maybe not sweet).

On Tuesday of this week a 5-month-old baby boy was left in a ditch near flowing water, allegedly by a man and a woman who suspiciously went in to the bush, and then disappeared.  Four hours later a baby was heard crying and the child was found by a man passing by.  The baby was covered with bug bites, but otherwise a perfectly healthy child.  The boy was taken to the hospital for immediate care while police and Social Welfare investigate the case and look diligently for the parents who would do this to their child.

Two days later the same newspaper reported that a 9-month-old baby boy was found on the side of the road by some kombi (taxi) drivers, covered in newspapers, and he too was taken to the hospital for care while investigations take place.

In the Times of Swaziland article Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba said, “Such incidents have increased and it is shocking and a bad habit.  The police will leave no stone unturned on the issue of baby dumping.  Perpetrators, when found will be dealt with accordingly. We would also like to request members of the public to work hand in hand with the police in finding such culprits.  Such incidents are clear indication that domestic problems are involved and such problems end up affecting these innocent children.”

What else could a newspaper say?  It seems that baby dumping happens with such regularity that maybe there should be a column in the paper for it, like the wedding section or obituaries. That way we could all check it regularly and see if we recognize the face of the abandoned child?  SOMEONE KNOWS those two babies and would recognize their faces.  But then posting that photo might go against the Child Protection Act that is specifically designed to protect the children against harm and perpetrators.  A rock, and a hard place.

Please pray for these two children and so many others that are not found in time. Please pray for the 106 children who have been placed with us at the El Roi baby home through the Social Welfare department of Swaziland.

As I prepare to welcome Spencer home in 7 days and Chloe home in 12 days, I will continue to pray for the mothers of Swaziland. I pray that one day their joy will be restored and that they will find their hope in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I pray that they will be able to keep and raise their children so that they will cherish and look forward to Christmas and visits from them, just as I do now with mine.

Live from Swaziland … it is 100F + with no sign of rain. 


Please consider helping provide for these 106 babies by making a year end giving donation that will be matched up to $100,000 before December 31, 2015.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Drought + storm + power-outages + 105 babies =

Over the past two weeks I have been praying and asked the Lord to turn down the heat a bit on our lives. I wasn’t speaking about temperature, but rather I was asking Him to turn down the crises, tragedies and human suffering that we have been dealing with so much.   I believe He answered my prayers and I have had some quieter days and even got a beautiful newborn baby boy on Friday, which brought me great joy. His name is Barak, which means "lightening". We thought that was appropriate based on the rest of the week... keep reading.

While turning down the “injustice” temperature a bit, He turned up the environmental heat to 100F+ for many days with intense humidity.  We don’t have air conditioning here on Project Canaan, and we all depend on ceiling fans and ice in our water to cool down.  We use sprinklers and small kiddie pools to cool down our children and leave the ceiling fans on high at night when they/we sleep.

This week the temperatures hit 105F+ (Swaziland was the second hottest place on earth on Thursday according to the newspaper), the rain started to fall and the power went off.  There are a few reasons why our power goes off 3-4 times a week.  Sometimes it’s South Africa (where our power comes from) who turns it off to help “load share” for their own power-shortage issues.  Sometimes it's a line that breaks due to a storm, and sometime it just goes off, seemingly for no reason.

This week the rains we have be praying for came, which was awesome.  The rains came and the electricity left.  First it was off then on, then off then on and then off. And it stayed off for almost 30 hours.  But the beautiful rain kept falling.

Imagine having 104 babies to care for when the power goes out.   It’s pitch black so you are working with portable flashlight type things and worse, the fans would not spin and the children were crying from the dark and the extreme heat (and I wanted to, but tried to refrain).  When the power goes out, so does our water purification system so all the water then needs to be boiled in order to drink it.  I want to stop and give thanks for ALL of our Caregivers who handle these situations with such grace and love.  They are truly amazing women and men.

It was the hottest night of my whole life and we didn’t sleep a wink.  The next day everything in everyone’s refrigerators and freezers started to melt and by sundown the next day the walk in freezer (full with a new order of chicken) was melting. Then I got a call from a neighbor at the nearby golf club who saw my whining on Facebook and offered her bunker freezer to help us out. What a gift that was at the right time.  Anthony and Denis loaded up the chicken and rushed it over.

Later that night the power did come back on (and off and on and off) and then stayed on. This small town girl from Northern Ontario, where it’s minus 40 degrees for weeks on end in the winter, was NEVER so thankful for a simple ceiling fan to come back on. 

We have looked at alternative energy sources and are working on a plan to get a large generator that will cover the Children’s Campus when the power goes out, but for now, we pray, and we give thanks for the rain, and the roof over our heads that doesn’t leak and that we are not living on mud floors that turn to muck when the rains come.

To answer many of you who are asking if the dams are filling. The answer is, not yet.  Our experience is that we need about 30 days of this kind of rain for the dams to start filling. The dams aren’t directly filled by rain, but rather it’s the rainwater that flows down from the mountains that fills them.  There has to be enough rain to saturate the ground up the mountain and only then does it start flowing down the mountain in to our dams.  So, we continue to pray for lots of rain.  The good news is that we do believe the ground is wet enough in the maize fields that we can go ahead and plant our maize crop next week.  

In other news, Friday was our first Kindergarten graduation at the Project Canaan Academy! Teacher Amber did a wonderful job (as always) and 4 Kindergarten students will go to Grade One next year and six Preschoolers will move up to Pre-Kindergarten.  We are so proud of them all.

We will miss Isaac Flentge next year as he moves back to the US tomorrow.
Preschool moving up to Pre-Kindergarten in February.
Giving thanks for rain, and electricity, and ice for my water to cool me down.

Live from Swaziland... Jesus bring the rain (and keep the electricity on please!).


PS – please consider giving a year-end giving gift to Heart for Africa to help us help the people of Swaziland and 105 children. Thank you.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"Let's talk about sex": the debate topic with all 280+ Project Canaan employees last Friday.

This poster was translated in to siSwati and posted around the farm to promote the (mandatory) event.

For months we have been working on how to go to a deeper level of discipleship and education of all of the Swazi’s we work with at Project Canaan.  If you read my blog from November 7th you will get an understanding of that plan -

Yesterday our many meetings and planning sessions resulted in what we called “The Great Debate”, and yes, it was mostly about sex. 

There was a women’s team and a men’s team with a representative from all departments on each team.  The debate topics came from challenges and issues that Swazi’s face everyday and that need to be taken out of darkness and brought in to the light.  We also had a panel of Judges/Moderators who are well known in the country and very knowledgeable and vocal in the areas of discussion.

My wonderful "Project Canaan Social Safety Team".

Our biggest challenge was that we wanted to be able to have EVERYONE who works at Project Canaan involved or in attendance and that is not possible when you have 104 babies who need care.   Solution?  Do the debate when we have a group of 19 willing and able volunteers, combined with our long-term volunteers who live and serve with us daily.  And voila!  All of our caregivers were able to leave the Children’s Campus for 2 hours!!! 

Here were the questions that were debated over a two-hour period.

Question #1
In Swazi culture it seems that women are inferior to men?  Traditionally they stay at home with the children while the men go and work, or go and sit with friends when there is no work.  Women do not have the same rights as a man, and in fact, we have no domestic violence laws that stop men from beating their wives.  We read in the paper that rape of women is at an all       time high and incest is a common occurrence.  But it also appears that Swazi women are stronger than men in many ways. They appear to be the backbone of our society, caring for many children and Grandchildren after the men have died or run away.   The question is: are women inferior to men or are we stronger?  How do you think women should be treated in Swaziland?

All Project Canaan employees.
Question #2
In Swazi culture some people believe it is okay to have sex before marriage and others think that it goes against our culture.  Even those who believe it goes against our culture are having sex before marriage.  It seems that marriage is something from the past and now it is all about having sex.  Even those people who are married are often proposing love to others who are not their husband or wife.  The question is: is it okay to have sex before marriage, and is it okay to have sex with someone other than your husband or wife?  What do you think these decisions mean to the future of our culture?

The men.
Question #3
In Swazi culture it has become common for a man to propose love to a woman with hopes that she will have sex with him.  In our culture it is not okay for a woman to propose love, but sometimes they do it with their eyes, their bodies or how they dress making it impossible for men to not touch them or want to have sex with them.  The question is: what is lust and what is love?  Are they the same thing? 

The women.
There was lots of heated discussion, but most of it was done with grace, respect and a lot of laughter.  Some of the highlights included:
·      The reason men cheat on their wives is because their wives are always complaining that they don’t bring home enough money to put shoes and clothes on the children. So of course they are going to find someone who doesn’t complain.
·      If women didn’t wear short skirts and dress promiscuously they wouldn’t be raped or sexually assaulted. 
·      Men are weak – they can’t help themselves when women wear short skirts.
·      Lust and love are not the same thing. Lust is a sin and love is from God.
·      If you “show it”, you have to “share it” – it was a man’s way of asking women to dress more modestly.
·      Sex before marriage goes against culture and the bible, but …
·      It is wrong that young girls/children are being raped by men because they can’t control themselves.
·      If our behavior doesn’t change then Swaziland will die.
·      We are sinning against God and we must turn from our bad ways and follow him.
·      Of course you should have sex with a man before you get married, to see if he is any good in bed (sigh).

Let me end by saying that this year, more than ever, we need your help. If you have been reading this blog and believe in the work that the Lord has us doing here, I sincerely ask that you make a year end contribution TODAY. The responsibility we carry for more children and all of the workers and their families continues to grow and we simply can’t do it without His provision, through His people … and that is you.

Every dollar that you donate up to $100,000 will be matched again this year and it is fully tax deductible.  Will you consider making a gift today?

In closing, I would like to share a few photos from today’s Project Canaan Academy Christmas Pageant.  It was awesome, inspiring and magical.  
Traditional Swazi dancing.

Away in a manger.

Hope puts hangs the angel ornament with her name on it.

Live from Swaziland ... thank you Lord for all you are doing in each of our lives.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

These are dark days.

Zodwa's grave was covered with a tree so that if the rains come, the dirt is not washed away.
This blog will be very short because I really didn't want to write at all.

These are dark days.

Lowlights from this week:
·      Dealing with a human trafficking case that has broken my soul and taken me/many of us to the darkest place of human cruelty and evil.
·      2-day old baby was born perfectly healthy (9+ lbs and HIV negative) and the family went to the hospital to kill the baby rather than taking him home. We pray that he will be safe for the weekend and come to us next week.
·      Personal betrayal at the deepest level.
·      Leaving the house at 4AM today to attend our sweet Zodwa’s funeral and burial, then having to speak at the grave site to her husband, 5-year old son and family who is mourning her loss. We miss our daughter, our sister and our friend.

What I know for sure:
·      Jesus is alive and securely on the throne.
·      All of these things are designed to draw us closer to Him.
·      We are to give thanks in all things, and so we try.

Please pray for Ian and me, for our family and for all those serving with Heart for Africa in Swaziland. The enemy is here to kill and destroy, that's it. So we must claim victory, but that is so hard some days/weeks/months.

These are dark days, globally.  Let us join together in unity, not division because this is too hard, without unity in the body of Christ, and without His grace.

Live from Swaziland … today I want to quit.  Jesus please give me strength, and restored hope.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

A rapist was caught this week and then terrible tragedy struck.

This week was hard.  No, this week was the hardest week we have had since we moved here.

Monday was a big day.  I was driving to town and randomly picked up a woman who was looking for a ride. She asked that I drop her off at a bus stop that was 10 miles from Project Canaan.  As we pulled up to the stop she asked me to keep driving.  As I continued on she quickly explained that the man who was standing in the bus stop had raped her that very morning.  She was on her way to report it to the police.

I pulled the car over and stopped to call a Police Officer who works at our local station.  I explained the situation to her and asked if they could quickly send a car to pick up the man. She explained that there were no police cars at the station at that moment, so I told her I was on my way to the station and would be there in less than five minutes.

When I pulled up to the police station the lady ran inside and two officers jumped in the back of my truck while loading their handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Before their doors were closed I was peeling out of the police station and flying down the two-mile long dirt road to where the rapist had been last seen. When we got to the bus stop, he was still there!  The police jumped out, arrested him, put him in the backseat of my truck and we drove back to the police station.  

We have since learned that he is a serial rapist and had violently raped women all over Swaziland and robbed them when he was finished. Only God knows why, but when he got to the police station he confessed to raping the woman whom I had picked up and then went on to tell them of many more whom he had raped and robbed. He will be in prison for a long time.

Then tragedy struck.

Wednesday Ian arrived home from the US and it was so great to have him back.  Only a couple of hours after his return I got a frantic call from Helen saying, “Mom, there was an accident with our transport truck.  One of our Aunties is dead.  Go quickly to the front gate please!”   Ian jumped in his truck and quickly picked up Kenny (our EMT), and I jumped on an ATV and flew down the mountain to the front gate. Once we got there we were told that the accident was a few miles down the road and so we headed to Gebeni.

We arrived at the scene to find that the truck was not able to make it up a steep part of a hill and when the driver tried to put it in first gear the truck started to slide backwards.  The people on the truck started to panic and one of our Aunties/Caregivers pushed her way from the front of the truck to the back and jumped off.  People were telling her not to jump and even tried to grab her and keep her on the truck, but for some reason she broke through and jumped, landing on her face.  The truck was already sliding backwards in the newly graded loose gravel and ran over her, killing her instantly.  

The next four hours were awful as we transported three people to the hospital (two requiring CPR en route – SO thankful that Ken and Anthony were there).  The police eventually arrived and paramedics came after we had taken three vehicles to the hospital.  By 10:30PM the last of the people had left and Denis and his team started to repair the five (brand new) tires that had gone flat because the truck ran over a thorn bush when it slid in to the shoulder of the road.  I headed home on my ATV and had heartbreaking responsibility of stopping at the Children’s Campus to tell all of our Aunties and Uncles about the terrible news.  Ian and Ken arrived home shortly thereafter from the hospital.  All three patients were discharged that night and Anthony took them home in the early morning hours.

The next two days were filled with conversations with witnesses, police, lawyers, government agencies and, of course, a visit to the family to share our deepest condolences.  As we were leaving the homestead of the Auntie who had died, the woman who had been raped on Monday was standing in front of me.  She was the Aunt to the deceased girl.  We hugged, and one of the family members pulled me aside and told me that Monday was actually the second time the woman had been raped. The first time it happened it was in front of her four children. 

The tears, the shock and the disbelief have not yet ended as we work through the realities of a senseless loss, but also as we see the miraculous mosaic of God’s timing and His handiwork.  

On Friday the driver of the truck was released from jail and we picked him up and brought him back to Project Canaan.  When we got to our house we discovered that a large fire had been deliberately started near our home and was burning out of control.  The winds were picking up quickly and suddenly furniture was blowing off our patio and trees branches were breaking.  The fire spread rapidly and was heading across the mountains and down to the farm.  

Suddenly (I mean within minutes of the wind picking up) the clouds opened up and the rain started to pour – the first rain we have had in many months of extreme drought. Then the hail started to fall and an epic hailstorm ensued, and after a massive 20-minute storm, the fires were out and only the smoke on the mountain remained. 

In addition to all of this, our baby Princess had to be rushed to the emergency room on Wednesday and Sipho was in respiratory distress and was rushed to the hospital on Thursday. On Friday Baby River had his final colostomy reversal and Isaiah had surgery on a hernia.  Both surgeries were successful and we hope to have all four babies out of the hospital early next week.

I saw the hand of God over and over again this week.  He is our strength and He is our shield.  I give thanks for the rain, I give thanks for His mercy and I give thanks that Ian was home this week.  Please pray for us all and for the family of our beloved sister and daughter.  She leaves behind a husband and 5-year old son.

We hope to have a very quiet and peaceful weekend.

Live from Swaziland … I am tired.


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.


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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Everything is dying – we are in a crisis here!

Some of you know that we are praying for rain.  Two of our dams are dry and the Living Water dam is almost too low to pump water and irrigate our crops.  There is no way for us to know how much water is left in the wells that we get our drinking water from.

But our irrigated fields still look green, while the hills surrounding us remain brown, or on fire due to the dry grass and high winds.
The fire up behind the Emseni Children's home last night.  Photo Credit: Chris Cheek.
In June 2015 it was predicted that the drought that was ensuing would kill an estimated 200,000 cattle if there was not immediate government intervention.

Today I sat down with Anthony and got a report from our work in the surrounding community and with our 27 church partners and I was given a much deeper understanding of what  “drought” really means today in Swaziland.

The number of children seeking food in each of our church partners has increased by 25% in the past two months.

But I was confused.  I asked why the lack of water now would be cause more children to be hungry, when the food they are eating now would have been grown in last years crop?  Here is how it was explained to me.

The maize that is the staple to the Swazi diet is planted in October/November and harvested in March/April.  It is then dried and stored, to be eaten throughout the year.  The harvests in the past decade have decreased and so the maize has not lasted from one year to the next.  Swazi’s have used the “early rains” which typically start falling in mid-September through October to plant back yard gardens, which provides with healthy food quickly while they wait for their maize to be planted and harvested.  Also, they typically are required to sell a cow or some goats to pay for seeds, fertilizer and food to get the family through the gap.

The drought is killing the cattle and thereby leaving Swazi’s in an even more dire situation.  Even we at Project Canaan have lost 5 cows in the past month.  Sickness, heat, snakes and disease are hard to manage even when you have full-time dairy staff, outside expertise and veterinarian support.  The rural Swazi has none of these. 

So, here is what is happening.

There are no cows to sell because thousands have already died and the ones that are still alive are too thin and sickly to sell.  There have been no early rains so the ground is hard and dry and gardens cannot be prepared and planted.  Even many of our church partners who had access to year-around water no longer have it and their gardens have died. 

I also received more deadly news from Gebeni, the community beside us. I was told that there are many people there who are on ART (Anti-retroviral Treatment) for HIV/AIDS who are now stopping their treatment because they know that proper nutrition is a critical part of the efficacy of the medication that is so hard on their internal organs.  Going off treatment will make their infectiousness increase and death will come faster.  UGH!

I did receive some good news while I was in Taiwan, and that was that King Mswati III made a public declaration that the drought was officially over. We are thankful for that and look forward to the rain falling soon.

In the meantime, if you can contribute to our ongoing feeding program we would very much appreciate it.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner and maybe you would consider making one less pie or reduce the variety of wonderful treats and instead give to help us feed the orphans and vulnerable children of Swaziland?  A $50 donation will purchase 110 pounds of maize, which will feed up to 250 children.

Live from Swaziland … please pray for rain!


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