A part of our parent experience involved us going out into the field to see the type of work our sons and daughters had been doing.
Remember how beautiful I thought the country was when wee first arrived? Remember how I wondered who we might be helping because the area did not look too bad?
Well……Swaziland is a small country. It is roughly the size of Connecticut. But I quickly learned that there is another side to Swaziland.
We boarded busses and started the ride to our care point. As we are driving we turn off the highway onto a dirt road. There are trenches on the side of the road and some big cracks in the dirt as we travel along. Did I mention that the dirt is red clay like in the southern US?
We travel down this road and as we are nearing our destination there are some children who are happy to see us coming. They run alongside the bus to get to the carepoint as we arrive.
As we pull into the yard I see a sheet metal structure at the corner of the yard. It looks like it was roughly slapped together. In bright red spray paint it said “Babane”. I wondered what that meant until I got out of the bus and saw the rough spray painted figures of a man and a woman. It was the bathroom. So I knew I was not going anywhere near it to see what it look liked inside. It scared me from the outside.
The church on the site is a nice barn like structure made of brick with a concrete floor. Inside there is a huge stage. It looked fairly new. I did notice some boxes at one end. I was told it was the boxes that the food comes in for the site. I noticed that the boxes came from Cincinnati!
Anyway the children were eating when we arrived. Sitting outside in the dirt, eating what looked like a rice and vegetables mix with their hands out of tupperware bowls. That is an image I will not forget. They were not sitting at a table, not sitting on blankets and I know their hands were not clean.
We were brought inside and we introduced ourselves to the folks who work at the site. Then the children were brought in and we introduced ourselves. After that we went outside to play.
Their hands were never washed because there was not anyplace to do so. Can you imagine?
BUT, these kids are full of love. They come up to you and smile “Hi Mama” They grab your hand, they want to play, they want you to take a photo. If you ask how are you? They say “I’m fine”, one young lady even corrected me because when she asked me I said I’m good. She said “no, you say I’m fine.” I wondered who taught her to say that.
The bigger kids played football and Frisbee. The younger kids were in circles playing games that we used to play at camp. The babies and toddlers just wanted to be held.
I sat in a chair and helped yell all of the chants for the circle games. I chatted with some of the kids. And just showed as much love as I could to these loves.
I learned that the meal that they get there at the carepoint might be the only meal they get all day. That day is was a chicken rice mixture, cooked in the big kettles in the picture above. The next day it was grits and red beans. Again eaten with no utensils.
I watched Brittany with the kids. She amazed me. My kid who hates being dirty, especially hates for her hands to be dirty, was picking up the kids. Hugging them and acting like I have seen her act in her preschool classroom here in America. She did not notice that they had no underwear, that there were holes in their clothes, that some of them did not have shoes. She just loved these kids.
The activist in me was going berserk. I was thinking I am going to get a hold of the CEO of crocs shoes (some of the kids were wearing them), and have him send enough shoes for all of them to have a pair. And the CEO of Fruit of the Loom to get them underwear. And, and, and………
And then I stopped! These are children, even if I got them all new underwear and shoes today, what happens as they grow? That was not the solution. I wanted to fix it, solve the puzzle. As i began to voice my concerns later that night the other world racers just smiled at me. They told me that what these kids needed the most was love and that was what we were there to do. I did not have a problem giving those kids love, but I wanted to do more.
I still don’t have the answer. I have some ideas. But I also know I will have to work through 2 governments if I really want to affect change. So I am reading and studying to figure out what to do. In the meantime those kids I saw are in my prayers.
Those kids affected me. I wanted to bring a few of them home. I don’t know how Brittany meets new children every month, gets attached and then has to say goodbye. I would not be able to do it. But this is the life of a World Racer and I was really beginning to get what my daughter had been experiencing these last 8 months.
This is an amazing experience for her. She is still fundraising to finish this race. If you feel led, please go to her link to contribute:
Thank you! There is still so much more to tell,