Friday, January 04, 2008

Concentrated Poor

We visited four potential sites for new Mission of Mercy CarePoints today with Pastor LaSalette Duarte. All four are in the eastern part of the country.
The first three were generally rural. Pastoral settings, beautiful views. But underlying is the devastation wreaked by HIV/AIDS. One homestead stood out. A mkhulu was taking care of a blind gogo. They lived in one hut amongst four other empty ones. There are no living children or grand children. They close themselves into their home at night for fear of the "hoodlums" that make use of the other huts at night and occasionally break in and steal what little food they have.
It was late evening when we got to the last site. A squatters village sandwiched between a gravel road, an irrigation canal, and a farmer's field. Here there was no pastoral setting or nice views. Reed walls and houses covers by miscellaneous pieces of roofing sheets. Small narrow paths separating houses and yards. What struck us was the apparent lack of older men (mkulus) and women (gogos). A lot of children and teenagers milling about. Drinking water comes from the irrigation ditch, which they also bathe in. Pastor Duarte is going to make another trip tomorrow to pray for some of the sick people we found there and hopes to make a way for the community to come to her church. I really don't know how to convey that this was the poorest community that we had seen in Swaziland yet. Maybe though, it was just that it was concentrated down to such a small area. I know all the other areas we visited and currently work in have many of the same problems. Just hidden behind beautiful views.
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