Lize-Marie Theron is a Human Resources Officer with Hands at Work in South Africa.
Nomsa Lukhele is the community-based organisation leader for the Asondle Sive Bomake Home-Based Care in Swaziland, which is a partner organisation with Hands at Work. She has a stall of 190 chickens and another with many chicks to sustain her family, the volunteers and the patients. Due to the mountains and large distances between homes, some of Nomsa’s grandchildren are walking one hour each day to get to school.
Jon, an Australian volunteer, and I got lost a couple of times on our way to Kaphunga in Swaziland. We were driving from South Africa to pick up one of our volunteers, Lacey, after she had assisted the project there for three weeks. Getting lost was a hidden blessing as we drove around for more than an hour trying to find our way through the mountains and over the hills of this very rural community. During the drive I noticed the small amount of people that we came across along the road and I remember thinking to myself, there aren’t many people here. The project must be small. But on our way to visit a 22 year old patient in her Gogo’s (Grandma’s) homestead, I asked Nomsa how many people we are serving in Kaphunga. I expected her to say 30 orphans and a few patients. Nomsa turned to me and, pointing at Lacey, said, “Ask her to tell you. She knows…” And then Lacey explained, “Nomsa and her 30 volunteers serve 1,300 orphans.” I was stunned as I scanned the mountains, bushes and small dirt roads everywhere. Deep down and all around in these green mountains and behind bushes, God’s eyes can see the wear-and-tear from the rain of every small mud hut. And He is leading us to those that no one sees or knows about.
One of those hiding in this mountainous area is Gogo Boshiwe. She is one of the patients the project looks after. Nomsa said that she is either in her eighties or she might already be 90 years old. Lacey calls Gogo Boshiwe ‘my gogo’. She doesn’t have good eyesight anymore, but this gogo is so full of joy. She makes you laugh right where you are. She spoke to us in Siswati and Nomsa translated. Gogo Boshiwe stayed in a mud hut and she told us that she had built three of these by herself. And behind these huts and a stick-fence lies a corn field that she told us she just built a few weeks ago. She is probably 90 years old, can hardly see, and finds it hard to move around between the huts, but she proudly and with much joy speaks of her land. When she said goodbye to Lacey she said it with a smile, “Remember me.” We walked away laughing as we could hear her chuckle in the distance. What a Granny! She is amazing.
We went deeper into the mountains. We arrived at another mud hut. A girl, who looked 16 years old, came outside when she heard Rosta’s voice, concerned that we might pass her by if we couldn’t see that she was there. She was shaking when we sat down with her. Not because it was cold, for it was good weather that day. She had trouble breathing too, but she sat quietly just staring in front of her. The mud hut was cool inside, but very small. We sat on grass mats. Against the wall was a stack of maize meal. Next to her gogo in front of her was a bowl of mixed maize meal and water. At the sides of the mud hut you can tell that rain is slowly tearing down this home. Heaviness hung in the air as we all watched silently as Rosta fed the patient. I remembered the scripture where Jesus said that we should clothe those who don’t have clothes, feed those who are hungry, look after those who cannot look after themselves. That is all we can do; the rest is in God’s hands. In this desperate situation I quietly prayed that God will remember her. It was difficult to just leave her behind, knowing that this is what her everyday looks like…
My time in Swaziland was short but very valuable. I take many memories with me that touched my heart in amazing ways. I will gladly pray for God to reveal His hand through Nomsa’s project in even more powerful ways, ‘cause we serve a God of Miracles.
I dare you to pray with me!