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Stalked by death in Swaziland

Death is not a respecter of persons in Swaziland. Here are the facts: • Life expectancy of only 30 years. • Fifteen-year-olds with less than a 10 percent chance of living to age 35. • More than 50 percent of the population lives on about 28 cents a day. • Half of the country’s populat…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Death is not a respecter of persons in Swaziland. Here are the facts:
• Life expectancy of only 30 years.
• Fifteen-year-olds with less than a 10 percent chance of living to age 35.
• More than 50 percent of the population lives on about 28 cents a day.

• Half of the country’s population are under the age of 15.
• In some parts of the country, 80% test positive for HIV.

• According to UN statistics, the entire country will literally die – wiped off the face of the earth by 2050.

Consider the following vignettes from Scott Borg’s blog:

“Brother can you spare a coffin?”

Sabelo is the development officer for the local chief in the area. He asked if our organization offered cash donations.  I was kind of expecting some kind of ask, but
he was so friendly and unassuming I took his request as an honest desire for
support in his role as a community development officer. 

I asked
what they needed cash donations for.   Since
the man asking was the community development officer, I thought it would be for
some type of community development.  His
answer surprised me.  He simply said, “We
need coffins.”  I was taken back and
humbled by his request.  After a simple
probing question he explained. 

“Our people are
dying and we have no money for coffins. 
Usually people are wrapped in a blanket and set into the ground.  The families are able to pay for simple
funeral catering (the funerals are at their homes and the dead are buried there
as well) but coffins are expensive.” 

“How much is
a coffin?” 

around $150.” 

Our first clinic patient
A few days ago an abandoned baby was brought to Pastor Gift’s
house.  Her young mother had given birth
to twins.  In a few short weeks the mother
and other twin had died of HIV/AIDS.  Now
this little girl is 4 months old with no family.  The team is caring for her until we can get
her placed in a home somehow.  She is 4
months old but small like a new-born. 
She will be the first patient at the clinic today. 

“We don’t help each other”
Lindiwe is one of the women who sew purses for Timbali
Crafts.  In fact she is literally the
face of the ministry as her picture is on the front of the Timbali Craft  flyer.
This week her husband died suddenly.  They have ten kids – the oldest is 20 years
A couple days ago Marcia and I were
out near her house and decided to drop off some food to the family.  Turning off the paved road we follow a gravel
road.  After some time we veer off the
gravel road onto a narrow dirt path, which leads to a foot path which leads to
her house. 

But what struck me most and what I can’t get out of my mind
was the man we met on the way to the house. 
He was about my age or older, walking along the dirt path.  We passed him as we were almost at Lindiwe’s
house.  He waved us down and asked us
where we were going.  I figured he needed
a ride but we were going the opposite direction.  I rolled down the window and he smiled a kind
smile as we told him we were looking for Lindiwe’s house.  He brightly responded that he was the
neighbor – we could see the blue door of his house from where we were
stopped.  He then got very sad when he
referred to the sad thing of the husband dying and leaving all those kids

I suggested it would be a good time for the neighbors to
come around the family and help them.  He
said flatly, “In Africa we don’t help each other.”  I was shocked.  Here he was talking about being the neighbor
and being sad about the loss but stating without remorse or shame that he would
not be helping the family.
We’re bringing hope
In the midst of all this sufferings, AIM, in partnership with CHC, is feeding and caring for 3,000 orphans. We’ve seen so much progress in the five years we’ve been working there.  We’re bringing hope to children like those in the video below every day.
Want to help? 7 cents a day feeds an orphan and $50 buys all 700 orphans in Nsoko a meal. Click here to give.

Comments (2)

  • Good morning Seth,

    Your blog post each day is part of the cycle of my daily devotions. Thank you for being authentic and caring.

    One of the challenges for organizations and Christian ministries who work in places around the world with such dramatic data is that we have a culture of disbelief. The increasingly effective tools at the disposal of a ministry allows the capture and distribution of “sadness and hope” as never before. Websites, CD’s, DVD’s, brochures and compelling prose are more the norm than not anymore. And many consumers just don’t know how to sort through the options. There are more every day.

    The problem of people dying of HIV/AIDS is clear. And many ministries are very adept at asking people to help. Recent data suggests that new nonprofits organized around African assistance and HIV/AIDS specifically are exploding.

    The two neglected disciplines continue to be:

    1. Describing a credible solution to the problem.

    2. Thanking people and appreciating their investment.

    Any organization can grab a moment of misery.

    Great ones show solutions that ultimately reaffirm the veracity of their claims.

    Blessings friend.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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