Soap story by Shelia Green

Although this was our third stay with Nomsa it was our first visit to the new centre in Kaphunga, Swaziland and we were concerned to see how dirty and ragged the children were. One of the cooks commented to a young boy about the state of his clothes and he replied that he had no more soap.

All the children were dressed in as many layers as they probably owned – after all it was winter and although the sun was strong and bright there was a cool wind. This little one, with her beautiful smile, had on 3 layers – some trousers and a skirted tunic with a jumper under that. Her layers were all shades of fawn and brown but the overall colour was heightened by the stains on top of that. Her hands were cold to touch and her clothes stiff with dirt.

Later in the week we were not surprised when Nomsa told us that they could no longer buy soap. It seems that soap was previously bought by a donor who can no longer help in this way so for some time the children have gone without. She used to buy 10 boxes of ‘Golden Glo’ soap each month to share out between the families that care for orphans. Each box has 24 long bars of green soap which can be used for all washing purposes.

ASB feed 75 children at their 2 feeding stations, 50 at the centre and 25 at a point near the bottom of the mountain, but they have the names of many more children. They have to prioritise and support those who need help the most, nearest the feeding points.

However they still support others as best they can. Children who spend hours walking to and from school each day – many arriving home in the dark and then with chores to do. It is these children who are comforted by visits from the carers. Nomsa and her team try to ensure that these families get help with a bag of maize as and when funds allow. There is a community field that helps to support them and other individuals will donate sacks of maize too. They have had another poor harvest and the hunger season starts soon. It lasts from November to February each year.

Nomsa always knows what her children need most. We had been given a small amount of money by friends to buy something for the children during our visit. Nomsa instantly asked for soap. Both she and the other ladies in her management team were so excited with this gift and we hear that when people received their bar of soap there has been much singing and dancing in thanks.