Six-year-old Mdeni Dlamini is a quiet boy who lives in Kaphunga, a remote and isolated community in the mountains of Swaziland. He stays with his 14-year-old cousin, Banele in a mud hut left by their grandmother. Their 25-yearold uncle stays in another hut on the same property. Neither child is in school.
Mdeni and Banele have no one to look after them. Banele’s parents have both died and Mdeni’s mother lives in the city of Manzini with his stepfather. The boys’ uncle, an orphan himself, is illiterate and does ad hoc jobs around the area when he can get them. But such work hardly brings in enough income to support the three. There is often no food in the house and water is scarce. The boys’ only source of water comes from a trickle of a dirty stream, likely to be infested with waterborne disease. The mud wall of the one-roomed hut has an enormous crack, and the unstable structure is threatening to fall apart completely.
The boys don’t have a bed, but sleep on the bare floor in this bitterly cold region. Mdeni tried living for a time with his mom and stepfather, but was treated badly and eventually returned to live in the rural village.
Hands at Work supports the local community- based organisation, Asondle Sive Bomake, working in the hills of Kaphunga. The community’s elderly women have banded together to bring the love of Christ to transform the most vulnerable children in the area. These women cross enormous distances on the mountainsides to identify and serve the area’s most vulnerable children, like Mdeni and Banele. Hands at Work supports them with mentoring, train-ing and finances to provide basic services. Maize seedlings and food supplements have helped to lighten the burden off Mdeni and Banele, giving them enough strength to start attending school in hope that an education will open doors for the future