Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rehmeyer Ministry Vision Statement for Swaziland - Short Term Relief / Long Term Change

Short Term Ministry Vision

We will be working in communities that have no access to HIV testing/treatment. The goal is to educate the caregivers as to the importance of testing and early treatment for HIV/AIDS for the children under their care. The community that we will be working in to start is Maphiveni, outside the Tambankulu sugar estate. There are about 1500 people in this community. It is a squatter community of ex-sugar cane company workers or families of the workers who have passed away. These people do not have the means to get to clinics or hospitals for testing or treatment. Two or three babies under the age of 5 die in this community each month from HIV related causes. Our goal is to be a facilitator for a project to provide them with education, and access to nearby clinics and the Good Sheppard Hospital to get the care and treatment they so desperately need.

During the past 3 years, working with Children’s Cup, we were able to roll out a program where we provided these services to the children at the care points. We will be trying to replicate this program in areas where it is needed. There are two additional areas of health education we will be focusing on: teaching pregnant women what they must do to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and education regarding water purification and how important it is. Their water source, the Mbuluzi River, is contaminated by run off from nearby farms, industry, human and animal excrement.

The rate of chronic diarrheas in this community is extremely high. In a clinic done for the children in this community recently, 33% of the children were identified as needing to be tested for HIV and almost half were victims of chronic diarrheas. When you add chronic diarrhea on top of already being HIV+, especially in children, you increase the risk of health issues such as dehydration, weakness, and weight loss. These people need to be taught how to treat the water source to make it clean before they drink it.

We will be working with the Home Based Care outreach team at Good Sheppard Hospital to provide HIV testing and treatment services to the Maphiveni community. They provide mobile services in the general area, approximately 30 km radius of the hospital. The area that we will be working in is 48km from the hospital; therefore, they do not have access to these services, unless transport is provided for them. This will be a program that we plan to replicate in other poor squatter communities in the Lobombo region.

The other opportunity that has been presented to Teresa is that of helping to provide guidelines for chemotherapy and breast cancer care in Swaziland. The Swaziland Breast Cancer Network wants Teresa to assist in developing this program for Swaziland. If diagnosed, cancer patients are presently being transported to South Africa for chemotherapy treatment, which is very difficult for them, as well as expensive for the government. Many times they are not able to complete their treatment due to cost constraints.

Long Term Ministry Vision

Ministry Mission

And the Lord said to him (Moses), what is that in your hand? (Exodus 4:2) God has given us everything we need to begin this earthly journey.

Ministry Vision

We see a long term investment into the lives of young people in Swaziland. Training these young men and women up and giving them Godly skills in life and in business. Affording them the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, and excel.


Beginning in 2005, we made the commitment to work with Children’s Cup to help develop the compassionate care and ministry outreaches to the children in the urban and peri-urban areas of Swaziland. Over the course of the three years, I oversaw the effective doubling of the number of NCP’s that ‘Cup managed and the doubling of the number of children attending. A concern from the beginning was the apparent loss or non-participation of the teenagers at the NCP’s. We have seen teenage boys and girls engaged in stealing, gangs, and prostitution in order to make money. For the NCP’s to have their intended impact on the community, they would need to provide a greater engagement of these older youth. Paradoxically, and of primary concern, is that these youth , as they fall back to their community, with no leadership and a crumbling (or nonexistent) social structure, are the ones to either make or break the fight against the HIV pandemic in southern Africa.

Key Ministry Objectives

The primary challenges in this sub-region are:
  • A culture that stifles innovation and creative thinking
  • Rampant under and unemployment
  • An education system that does not have the infrastructure or capital to educate the children through primary or secondary schools
  • A university system that struggles to find government bursaries for the majority of students that do attend
In answer to this, a program whose goal is to help break the cycle of poverty and HIV is essential.

At the age of 16, many young people in Swaziland are the head-of-household for their homes and providing for younger siblings. As the AIDS epidemic sweeps through this country, this age will become younger and younger. The ministry we have been involved in has been a great short term support to young, undernourished children affected by AIDS through loss of responsible relatives. Over the past two years we have seen these children grow. We have asked ourselves
  • What will happen when they are no longer eligible to be fed or choose not to participate at the NCP’s?”
  • What are we accomplishing – are we establishing lasting Godly principles in these children, that will change their lives or are we just a stop gap to the inevitable decline in health and values when they move on?
As God has spoken to us we have seen that it is Jesus that these children need. Our hearts yearn for a chance to feed these children more than food. They need the unending supply of God’s grace and the sustainable supply of meaning through self worth.

Grappling with these two ministerial objectives we feel we can be life changers here in Swaziland. By providing a ministry opportunity from where the NCP initiative ends, we can and will make a difference. This will be through two primary areas of focus:

1. Business Opportunity
The actual skills being taught are not what are important. Many skills based programs in Swaziland concentrate on specific skills with no concept of market saturation and effective wage earning capability. They do teach a specific skill, but they do nothing to prepare the student for effectively implementing the skill in a successful business.

The primary goal of the program will be to teach the participants to effect life changing attitudes about their potential and responsibilities. Secondary will be the specific skills. Even so, the skills that will be taught will be unique and provide opportunities in and of themselves as well as significant crossover into other areas of work.
  • Personal financial responsibility
  • Personal moral responsibility
  • Mastering basic business fundamentals
  • Entrepreneurial skills and training
  • Learning technical skills in glass blowing, etching, beadwork, torch work, slumping, etc.
  • Confidence to seek, and pursue, the dreams and ideas that God gives to each person
2. Camps
During the school year, schools are closed for several weeks between each term. We would use this time and the venue of the vacant schools to provide day camps. Impacting child-headed households will be the primary focus of these camps. Local and international groups will be engaged to assist in the running of life and business skill camps; teaching in areas they have specific expertise.

Skills for household management, health management and self reliance will be the primary focus:
  • Nutrition
  • Budgeting
  • Sustainable household vegetable plots
  • Disease management (HIV and TB being the primary focus)
  • Child rights
  • Homestead micro economic projects
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