This week our dear friend, Mathokoza Mtetfwa, lost his beloved father to Covid-19. This is the first death to this virus that has been personal to us, and we mourn with he and his family. We have another dear friend, Rev. Dr. JV Mazubuko, in hospital fighting for his life having buried his wife only three weeks ago. There was “fake news” announcing his death earlier in the week, but he is still fighting the fight as I write this blog. He believes that one of the people who came to visit his wife in her last days brought the deadly virus to the house. The virus is real, and it is here.
Each week Ian and I take a cautious journey to town together to pick up groceries and supplies. We laugh at ourselves and say that the country mice are going to the big city, with masks and hand sanitizer in our pockets. Every store we enter (which we limit as much as possible) takes our temperature and insists that we also use their hand sanitizer for our hands, and sanitizing wipes for our cart. We shop and check out as quickly as we can, although the stores are very quiet and the parking lot is usually almost empty.
Liquor stores have been closed since June 1st and will not reopen until mid to late September, which also reduces the traffic in the shopping center where we buy our groceries. We are told that emergency rooms in South Africa and Eswatini have been much quieter because of this ban on liquor sales because drunk driving accidents are down and bar fights, gang fights and general “stupid” fights have been greatly reduced. Sadly, domestic violence has escalated, but in Eswatini the police don’t have any gas for their police cars so they can’t go and rescue a woman being abused, or transport her to the hospital for care. Instead, she has to stay at home with the abuser (who is now drinking home brew… which can make you go blind, paralyze you for life, and most certainly make you go crazy). We see this frequently at Project Canaan when women don’t show up to work. When we dig down to why they were absent, it is almost always a result of being badly beaten up, and they are either to hurt to come to work or too ashamed. It’s heart breaking.
In other news we have lots of activities happening on Project Canaan. This past week we started harvesting almost two acres of onions. Did you know that onions need to have their necks broken (ouch), and then they are left in the ground to “heal the wound” before being harvested? Then they are hung in the greenhouse to cure for 2-3 weeks until the necks are completely dry and the outer skin is slightly crisp. The farm team is growing enough onions to last the children’s campus a full year, and we will sell the rest. Believe me, we use a lot of onions!
This week we poured the concrete floor on the main floor of the second Oasis building called “O2” (a play on Oasis #2 and a place to get oxygen for the mind, body and soul). It will eventually be the large dining hall for our older kids on the upper campus (as opposed to the middle and lower campuses). This building will be used as a recreation center for the next two years and will have a second-floor outdoor patio space for games, homework and just hanging out. When we were in Georgia in January with our friends the Jean and Jerry Eickhoff and Jan and Ernest Taylor, we saw the most beautiful outdoor patio roof on an early morning walk. We are always looking for interesting ideas that we can use on Project Canaan when we travel around the world. We immediately knew that this roof would be a stunning addition to the new O2 building, and our carpentry team is working on the design now. Thank you friends for the kind invitation and for showing us such beauty.
We also had a big soccer tournament this week with the older children followed by a braai (grilled meat) and gigantic bon fire. It was too cold on the day of the tournament to end with the bonfire (55F), so we spread the fun over two nights. There was something magical about the evening that is hard to put in to words. I am attaching a few photos, but you will have to breathe deeply to smell the meat on the grill and listen closely to hear the children singing along with the music and cheering on the players. The fire was warm, the sunset was stunning and everyone was happy. Covid-19 did not exist for a few hours, and we had indescribable peace.
I hope that you will be able to take a moment this week, if only for a few hours, to breathe in deeply, listen closely and enjoy a moment of indescribable peace and joy.
Live from Eswatini … going for a Saturday morning walk around the farm.