Saturday, September 08, 2012

The World’s Best (and Worst) Economies

The Least Competitive Economies in the World
10. Swaziland
> GCI score: 3.28
> GDP per capita: $3,358 (51st lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 17.5% (22nd lowest)
> Individuals using Internet: 18.1% (46th lowest)
> Infant mortality rates: 55.1 per 1,000 live births (27th highest)
Of the 144 countries studied by the World Economic Forum, Swaziland ranked 14th lowest in providing basic requirements for competitiveness. The kingdom is ranked as one of the 20 worst macroeconomic environments in the world. Swaziland is rated so poorly partly because it is just one of three nations surveyed with a negative savings rate. The country also was especially ineffective, 135th out of 144, at promoting health and basic education, both of which are necessary for a productive and competitive workforce. The health problems presently facing Swaziland are among the worst in the world: 25.9% of the population is estimated to have had HIV or AIDS as of 2009.
Please pray how you can help our projects in Swaziland. The realities of the economy here, whatever the underlying causes, has a catastrophic affect on the the impoverished and isolated populations living in rural Swaziland. Whether you can help with the medical outreach and clinic or the economic empowerment projects. Please pray how and where you can get involved!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Rehmeyer/Kudvumisa Foundation Sept. Update

September Newsletter
Please follow the link above for our latest newsletter!
Thanks & God Bless
Teresa and Philemon talking at Macetuka
Teresa in Macetuka giving moringa to the children here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Sewing & Marula Nut Projects

 Here is a link to a picture book we put together to showcase two of the economic empowerment projects we have started in Maphiveni and Vuvulane.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Marula Nuts - Food of Kings!

The majestic Marula tree that grows extensively in Swaziland OK, the writer took a little liberty with traditional uses, but other wise a good write up!  As another economic empowerment project in the areas we are working in eastern Swaziland, we are trying to develop a market for marula nuts in the urban areas which are in great supply in Maphiveni and Vuvulane.
Shelled Marula Nuts

By Observer Reporter
The marula tree or umganu, as it is traditionally known, has a long and colourful history and has been a vital part of the culture and health of Southern Africa for thousands of years.
 Indigenous to Swaziland and many other countries in the region, its bark, leaves, fruit and nuts have all been used for centuries as a source of food, traditional medicine and fermented brews and many legends exist about its powers and properties.
... Majestic tree that grows extensively in SD
In parts of Africa, marula is known as the tree that drives elephants mad for the effect it apparently has on the animals when they eat large quantities of fermented fruit off the ground although evidence of this amusing effect is limited.
Marula has also been attributed magical qualities as some believe an infusion of the bark from a male or female tree can determine the gender of an unborn baby. It is also widely believed that Marula has the ability to increase fertility; however it’s possible that this may have more to do the after effects of the strong traditional beer brewed from its fruit that is enjoyed by many!
This brew, Buganu, or Emaganu, is so popular in Swaziland that there is an annual Marula Festival celebrated at the Royal residence of the King at Ebuhleni in the Hhohho region of Swaziland between February and March each year. Both the King and the Queen Mother are presented with marula beer from many households, and only after the royal family has partaken in the ceremony can Swazis themselves drink the beer.
Marula is also a very important source of nutrition and medicinal properties. The fruit and juice contains up to eight times the Vitamin C content of oranges and is high in potassium and the bark contains mild anti-malarial qualities and has been known to cure indigestion and heartburn.
Nutrient-rich marula nut is taken from the seed
But some of the greatest powers of marula lie in the small nut kernels found inside the hard seed at the centre of the fruit.
These nuts are in fact an incredible source of protein, minerals and healthy oils, so rich and nourishing that they have long been referred to in many cultures as the ‘food of Kings’! Analysis shows that the nuts have exceptionally high protein content (30 grams of protein per 100 grams of nuts) and in fact contain higher protein and healthy oil content than other popular nuts including walnuts, chestnuts and almonds. They also contain other essential nutritional components including magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and thiamine.
Nuts have long been known as an essential part of a healthy diet and as eating local produce becomes increasingly more environmentally and economically important, Marula nuts are an excellent choice for a nutritious snack or as a tasty addition to porridge, stews and many other dishes. The nuts are a tasty addition to baked cakes, biscuits and breads and are an excellent alternative to recipes calling for other nuts including pine nuts.   Nuts grown and processed by local communities in Swaziland are now available and can be purchased in 100 or 500 gram bags from Pick’nPay stores, Thorny Bush Organics in Mbabane and at Baker’s Corner stores in Matsapha, Ezulwini and Manzini. If you would like more information on the extensive health benefits and the availability of marula nuts in Swaziland email Pastor Daran at or call 76025992.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breaking the Bonds of Poverty

Several of the women assembling purses.
The grant from Changing Futures has been used to buy 6 sewing machines, train 6 ladies how to sew, as well as, to buy material and supplies.  We had a teacher in the community who started training them and then he went missing.  Then we heard from two ladies back in the States that said they wanted to come and help with the sewing project for 3 weeks.  So in May, they came and taught these ladies how to sew beautifully!  They have been sewing large sling bags, small sling bags with 2 zippers, aprons, and coin purses of different shapes and sizes.
On the 14th of June 2012 Ncamsile, Maria, and Jane sold their first 50 bags to Timbali Crafts.  Each of these ladies signed a contract with us for their sewing machines, which states that they will pay R50 per month toward the purchase of their machines.  This money goes back into the account to purchase more machines, material and supplies, as well as upkeep of the machines.  As we were leaving, they came and gave us R50 each for their first payment towards their machines.
On June 18th and 19th, teams from the US that were visiting Swaziland came through and bought many bags from the ladies.  On the 21st we paid the ladies for what they sold.  We keep a percentage to buy additional material and supplies so that we can sustain the program.  We paid each lady individually in front of the group, saying what and how much they sold.  The other ladies applauded each one as it was her turn.  One of the ladies got down on her knees to receive her payment!  They were all so happy for each other!  It was a very special moment!  The next day one of the women asked if she could go to South Africa with the lady that helps us run the sewing project to buy more material with the money she had made.  Another lady asked if they could buy formula for her baby with the money she had made.
Unique designs for small purses and shoulder bags.None of these ladies have a bank account, or make any money on a regular basis.  They live day to day trying to put food on the table for their families.  It is very difficult for them to understand anything about a business or what it means to run one.  Our hope is that if they can make a somewhat steady income with the sewing, that we can teach and empower them to take the business themselves one day and run it as a group or an association.
One of the ladies showed up last week, late in the week and apologized that she had been missing sewing classes all week.  She was covered with bruises, which she said her husband had beaten her because he doesn’t want her being away from home every day sewing.  My heart went out to this precious woman who is already handicapped, as she only has one good eye.  I cried as I prayed with her for protection and peace.  These women put up with untold misery from men just so they can have a roof over their heads.  Most of the time, the men don’t have a steady job either.  So we asked if she thought it would be better if we let her take the machine home and sew there so her husband wouldn’t beat her.  One of the other women in her community said that she could stop and help her if she needed help and she could come to class once a week.  This has turned out to be a good solution for her and her husband was ok with this.
Some of the ladies sewing on the front porch in VuvulaneNow there are two more teams from the US, coming before the end of the month to buy items from the ladies. Also, there is a lady who has said she would buy R2400 worth of bags at the end of the month to send back with someone to sell at their church.  Lastly, we have been invited to put our items at a booth at the Swazi Trade Fair at the end of August.  So, the ladies have been sewing like crazy to stock up items for all of these potential sales.  They are very excited and there is lots of momentum right now!  We are very pleased with their progress in such a short time!
Thanks so much to Changing Futures organization for your kind and generous grant!

Friday, July 06, 2012

CD4 Reagent

We've been asking for help in procuring the reagents needed to do follow up CD4 counts for all our CHIPS clients. The government has not been buying enough to do the tests for everyone that needs it. Today we picked up enough reagent to do the follow ups for all our clients! A donation from the Mbabane Rotary Club and several donors in the US allowed us to make the purchase. We'll deliver the reagent to Good Shepherd Hospital next week to start the process of getting rid of the huge backlog of tests for our clients.  PTL!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marula (Maganu) Nuts

Gogo cracking marula using the traditional "big-rock/little rock" technique
Gogo cracking marula using the traditional "big-rock/little rock" technique
Daran & Mary measuring nuts from Macetuka
Daran & Mary measuring nuts from Macetuka
We've initiated another project for economic empower- ment in the areas of Maphiveni and Vuvulane.  Marula season (February-March) typically ushers in a period of drunkenness and debauchery in many of the communities we work in.  Marula is a fruit that  is collected in great quantities and fermented to yield a fairly potent (and cheap) brew.   The nut inside the fruit is discarded to an ever-growing mound.  While difficult to extract, the nuts inside are very light and tasty.  Traditionally, the nuts were extracted to eat or to press for cooking oil.  It seems this is a use that has been for the most part abandoned.  So we thought we would try to develop a market for the nuts.  This could provide an income in these impoverished areas with a readily available and renewable resource.  So far we have place the 100g packs in several shops here in Mbabane (Thorny Bush, PicknPay, Elite Food).  One restaurant is buying them to add to their chicken dish.  We added them to chocolate chip cookies last week: everyone thought they were delicious.  As a by-product, we are trying to develop a market for the cracked shells in the landscaping/gardening shops.

Economic empowerment helps restore dignity and combat the poverty mentality so prevalent in these areas.  We hope with proper mentoring and support, the women and men involved in this project can take it over and run a prosperous marula nut company!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Please pray for a young girl (woman) named Thobile. 
If you search back through our blogs, you'll see numerous stories over the years about Thobile.  We first met her as we spearheaded a new carepoint under Children's Cup in 2006 or so.  She was very sick when we met her.  A combination of HIV and TB were slowly killing her.  We made it possible for her to get treatment and once she was well enough even sponsored her to return to primary school.  She finished Grade 6 last year and had started Grade 7.  Her official birth date is April 30, 1991.  One month younger than our oldest daughter.  But the ravages of HIV, TB and poor nutrition made her look to be half her age.
She was re-admitted to the government hospital in Manzini two weeks ago with fluid on the lungs and trouble breathing.  A few days ago she was transferred to the isolation ward at the TB Hospital in Moneni.
This young lady needs a miracle, a touch to her physical body. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A New Command

Babe ShongweSaturday, 5th of May:  We found an old man in Section 19 lying in his own urine, sick and dying alone.  We recognized this man, Babe Shongwe, from community meetings that were held in 2009 when CHIPS first moved into Section 19.  No one should have to suffer like this.  We asked if anyone is cleaning him or feeding him.  One of the guys standing nearby said, I don’t have any gloves.  Then another man came with a small bowl of soft porridge, he said that he tried to clean him even with putting a plastic bag over his hands.  I went inside the man’s hut that was falling apart, stood by his bed and cried.  He was trying to talk to me but of course I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  When I was inside, there was someone yelling, which I found out later that he was saying, “Tell the white people the truth, these ladies (one of our ladies in our sewing project was with us and he was speaking of them), they don’t do anything to help this man!”  Then someone came with a list of names and numbers that were the man’s children. They said they had tried to call them to come and take care of their father, but they have not come.

We were also told of an old lady that has advanced cervical cancer, who is living alone in a lot of pain.  Again, there is no one taking care of her.  She has a huge tumor on one side of her abdomen that makes it difficult for her to get around and causes the severe pain.  She has been to many doctors and clinics and she even has an order to go to South Africa to receive radiotherapy to shrink the tumor.  This will not cure her, only reduce her pain.  However, she has no way to get to South Africa to receive this treatment.  The government used to send patients over to receive treatment but the fund is no longer functioning because of misuse and corruption.  She has no pain medication, no food, and no family. 

Both of these people are living in one of the areas that we do our HIV program and sewing project.  The ladies in the sewing project live in the same area as these two people and they do nothing to help them.  This is very disappointing as we offer so much assistance to them and they don’t think to help their neighbors.  As I was stewing over this, Daran reminded me that if no one has ever taught them to love and help their neighbor, how would they think to do this?  After all,the world that they live in is survival of the fittest.  They live one day at a time, sometimes one meal at a time.  Also, the ladies told us that the landlord does not want sick, old people living there because if they die and have no family, the landlord will be responsible to take care of their burial.  These people live in fear of so many things, so I think that maybe they would be fearful to help them because it would displease their landlord?  So I decided to try to teach them to think of what Jesus would do.  I asked them to pray this week for the Lord to break their hearts over the things that break His heart.  They agreed to do this.  I also asked them if Jesus lives in their hearts and they all said yes.  Then I said if Jesus lives in your heart, you will love your neighbor and want to help them.  Daran brought up the scripture in John 13: 34-35.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

So we told them that others will know that they love Jesus if they love their neighbors.  I told them that if we all do our part to help others, we will please the Lord.  I know that they don’t have much and probably can’t share their food, but they can offer themselves, and their time.  I told them to just visit them sit and hold their hand so that they know they are loved.  Build a fire for the old lady so she can cook, help her clean her house, clean the old man.  I can bring gloves, food and pain medicine for them. So if we work together, we can help to meet their basic needs of comfort, love, and food.  We can also pray with them and for them. 
 Sunday, 6th of May:   We received a call that Babe Shongwe has passed on.

Section 19 is the end of the road for many who live there.  There is no parental home to return to.  As a fledgling organization, Kudvumisa Foundation is doing what it can in these areas: given our constraints on budget and manpower. 

Please join us in pray for Section 19, these ones that are sick and in need.  Pray for those we work with and minister to that they will learn to pour back out to those around them.  Pray for us as we work in this area, that we would be pleasing to God and lead these precious ones to Him!  Pray for workers who can teach, disciple, train and as Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy of his life, pour out their lives as a drink offering in service to the only one who matters.