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Saturday, May 2, 2015

What a week: 37 children moved, turned away a baby, and a memorial service

This has been a week! 

It started with the race to get the Emseni building finished so that 20 of our biggest children could move up to their permanent home. The reason it was so critical was because we were full to overflowing in all our children’s housing. Kuthula Place, that should house 10 babies (age 1 day to 4-months), had 14 babies in it.  The El Roi Baby home, which now has 32 beds, had 34 children living there.  The Labakhetsiwe toddler home, which was built for 40 children, had 44 children living there.  We were bursting at the seams, but on Wednesday, April 29th the dominos started to fall.

First, the 10 big ones moved their bags up to Emseni. Then 10 toddlers from El Roi moved to the toddler home. Then 7 babies who are 6+ months old moved from Kuthula Place to El Roi.  With the help of awesome volunteers, incredible Children’s Campus staff, and anyone else who was around to help, all the moves went off without a hitch.

Paul, Emmanuel and Ishmael were all packed and ready to move!

Hope loves her new bed!
In the midst of the planning for all of the above I was asked to go and help assess an 8-month old baby who was reported to be disabled and needing help.  We do not knowingly accept disabled children as we do not have the staff or training to help, but as it turns out, 10% of our children have some kind of long-term disability

We were told that the mother of the baby was dead, the child was living with an old Grandfather (who is the one who reported the case to Social Welfare) and the child was starving to death.  I wondered if maybe the child was just developmentally delayed or stunted due to malnutrition, so I asked Brooke and Shongwe to come with me to the homestead, with the Social Welfare officer, to assess the situation. 

After driving for an hour, over hill and dale, then through the bush, we came to a home that had many, many small children running around half naked.  As soon as we arrived we saw the child in question, but the story wasn’t at all what had been reported to the government office. The mother of the baby was alive and sitting in front of us. The Grandmother of the baby was there as well as several other women, who were mothers or Aunties for the dozens children who were sitting on the ground watching us.  The baby was not starving to death, as was reported, and in fact, she wasn’t 8-months old, she was 8 YEARS old. The only part of the story that was true was that she was severely disabled, and we found her sliding around dirt yard on her bare bum.  She is no doubt a severely “at risk” little girl, but in no way qualified to come to live at our baby home. 

We thanked the family for inviting us for the visit and left them with some food for the children.  We must all pray for the safety and protection of that little girl.

I don’t often tell those stories in this blog, but that type of “wild goose chase” happens fairly often, but it’s always worth the drive when a child’s life can be saved.  I am thankful for those who give money to my compassion purse which allows me to buy fuel and food for those trips.

We ended the week with a memorial service for our dear friend Shirley Ward.  It was a beautiful day as we gathered with Shirley’s family, friends, government officials, Doctors and Social Workers to celebrate a life will lived.  Shirley was the one who actually set up the Heart for Africa charity in Swaziland in 2004.  She was also the one who found the Project Canaan land in 2009 and navigated government relations so that the El Roi Baby home could be opened in 2012. 

In honor of Shirley Ward.
There are no words to describe the sadness we feel to say good-bye to Shirley, but her faith was strong enough to move mountains, and we saw her do that many times in the ten years we worked with her.

The El Roi choir sang.
Shirley with Cindy Van Wyk at the dedication of the Project Canaan land June 21, 2009
Many mountains were moved this week and we give thanks for the dozens of people who made the whole week a success.  Thank you Jesus for your provision, your love and your attention to detail.

Live from Swaziland… we are going to take the weekend off.


A fun aerial photo of The Oasis reception with Emseni East to the right.

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