We left the Welcome Place to visit a family under consideration for SOHO sponsorship. Seven children living up in the hills. The landscape I striking, starkly beautiful. Mountainous and awe inspiring. At the end of a winding road, off in the bushes was a cluster of dilapidated huts on a homestead. The children wore ragged, slippers on their cold feet, eyes red rimmed. An old gogo sat outside watching life go by. She had a chronic helpless look, but there was a warm smile to greet us.
No food. Common complaint. We unloaded a supply and took basic information on each child. Five had been kicked out of school for lack of school fees. One girl had been out two years. “ I want school,” she said intensely. “ I want to study economics.” “ Why”? I asked her. “ I want to be an accountant.”
Her eyes had a hungry look behind their smile. We would go back and see what we could do about getting help with both food and school fees.
I mulled over one item discussed at the Committee meeting. The idea was to give every child at the Welcome Place a small garden plot to develop and to work with that child to ensure success. Then the produce or whatever was grown could be sold back so that child would have the joy of reaping rewards for effort. Fishing 101. I liked that.
As we left the compound, a Care Giver asked to speak with Lorraine. “ Could SOHO help?” A family was in dire need. The Husband had broken his back in an accident. He was on ARVs. Has AIDS. The mother cannot work while she looks after him. No food. A number of children……
Lorraine’s shoulders slumped. I knew the feeling. Part of our agenda was establishing our focus on child headed households and youth at risk. But the numbers were intimidating.
We could not help everyone, but of the children in need, how should we prioritize? By geographical area? Yes. But when there were so many tragic situations in the communities we were serving, how should we prioritize? How could we best help the most children?
Back at the guest house in Manzini, we had supper and discussed updates on the children being sponsored. An attempted rape on one of them. After work, I made Lorraine look at a Jane Austen chick flick, which she enjoyed but fussed about not wanting to be lazy. “ They don’t call you Mother Theresa with a stick for nothing,” I told her. “ The kids want to see you around for a long time so let’s visit. Visited the fictitious Cranford with Mrs. Gaskell in Jane Austen country for a breather.