As we look around Swaziland, everything is green and lush. Panoramic views abound in all directions. It truly is a “beautiful” country and quite pleasing to the eye. As with most things, this wide angle looks better. As we dig into that landscape we see some of the most abject poverty we have witnessed. Children with distended tummies and skinny arms due to malnutrition, mud huts with no water or electricity, a generation missing, death, lack of opportunities … hopelessness?. How can there be such a contrast? Can people (as defined by their circumstances) see this beauty? Or are they too focused on where/when/if the next meal will be?
Here is the hard pill to swallow for us; people here are generally happy-despite their surroundings. They are not rushed, not in a hurry, wave and smile, are prayerful of if/when they will have income or food. Death hurts many here as deeply as it hurts us-perhaps some have been so accustomed to it that they are numb and emotionless-it has been a way of “life” for too long. Given the right “opportunity” (not handout), some here have found great success. Some would rather not try(just like America-but we have a social system that this country does not). Many like GiGi, have received great educations, gone on to great employment, and are starting to return the favor to others in their community(she runs a CarePoint on her own, with her own money and cares for 100+ children every day).
If we think WE can change Swaziland by what WE do here, we are mistaken…if we can help our local friends and partners change Swaziland with opportunities created around them-we will have success…in time. Perhaps one day-all will see the beauty of this place, duplicate the efforts of those who desire to make change, put an end to HIV, love one another, and have vision beyond their own understanding. Bheki Themba has that-he is passionate about making sure that there is always a replacement in his career-so that when he moves on, ministry continues and starts to grow itself…true discipleship. Truly seeing the beauty amidst the ashes.