Swaziland is the only remaining absolute monarchy in Africa, and possesses a stunning landscape. However, the surface impression of Swaziland is deceitful, and beneath the faces of people who appear content is a horrific truth. In Swaziland, sexual abuse and incest occurs in the home of many families. Cultural pressure has driven many Swazi men to take on wives and children they cannot provide or care for. Challenges in policing Swazi borders have contributed to a growing child trafficking crisis.
Many Swazis live in abject poverty and food shortages are widespread. Swazis often cross into neighbouring South Africa (SA), hoping to find employment. However, many quickly realise unemployment is also a crisis across the border. Swazi children are unable to take final exams in SA without SA identification, and many become stuck in an education system where they can never graduate.
Girls are especially at risk in Swaziland, often given up for marriage as early as ages 12-14, causing an extremely high rate of girls who have never been to school or have dropped out at an early age. This reality is not only due to cultural practice, but occurs when families are desperate for income and can give their daughters away for money. Only 50% of adults in Swaziland support learning and education, leading to only 52% of female students attending secondary school. Lack of education and early marriage has resulted in a high rate of young mothers: 22% of adolescent girls give birth by age 18. A shocking 42% of adolescent girls justify being beaten by their husbands.
The HIV/AIDS crisis continues to plague Swaziland: 16% of the population is infected – only 2% lower than SA which has 42 times the population of Swaziland. 66% of orphaned children were orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
Hands at Work is committed to speaking up in this silent culture where people with no voice are being oppressed. Hands at Work is currently focused on expanding work throughout Swaziland and has the benefit of a strong base of volunteers and African leaders across the border in South Africa. Swaziland offers little bureaucratic hindrances and therefore many opportunities to help those most in need.
We envision the local church in Africa effectively caring for the dying, orphans and widows, and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa.
Orphaned children (age 0-17): 110,000
Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS: 73,000
Under 5 mortality rating (per 1000 live births): Female – 75 | Male - 85
Secondary School Attendance:
Female – 52% | Male – 42%
People living with HIV: 200,000
Life expectancy at birth: Female - 49 | Male – 50
Lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in 94
Population below the international
poverty line: 41%
Country rating (out of 187) on the Human Development Index: 148
–Sources: UNAIDS, UNDESA 2014, UNICEF 2014