The Story of Ndoda

This is Ndoda. He has AIDS, and he had very, very bad tuberculosis when he first came to Cabrini Hostel to live with us.

Whenever I talk about some of the biggest things I’ve seen in the two years I’ve been here, I talk about how I’ve seen people who are dead come back to life.

When we built the building that is our second hostel for the girls, it was originally intended to be a hospice for sick children because there were not ARVs in the country yet. Ndoda was one of the sickest kids. He had to live with us in the sisters’ quarters because his health was dangerously bad. He slept 20 hours a day. My staff told me that right before I came to Swaziland, they had thought Ndoda had died. They had him wrapped up in a blanket, and they called Henk, who was in charge at the time, and said, “We think Ndoda has died.” They came to him, Henk examined him, and said, “No, he’s not dead.” They took him to the hospital and he made it through to the next day.

Ndoda has been on ARVs for probably 2 1/2 years now, and is responding well, and is growing. The kids, you know, they love to sing and dance and do shows for us, and just the other day, Ndoda was up dancing the traditional dance with all the rest of the boys. He loves to dance, and plays soccer, is a leader in school, goes to school everyday and does well.

Though, I have to admit, every time he dances, I feel like a protective mother, because his lungs are practically ruined from having TB, so he really has to huff and puff to breathe. But when he was dancing the Sibhaca dance, I just watched and thought, thank you God, that this little boy can be a normal boy, and enjoy dancing and everything he does. He was up there dancing and having a great time. What a gift he has been given, that he can be a normal boy.

Article about Sr. Barbara in NYU School of Social Work Newsletter

Read an article below about Sr. Barbara and Cabrini Ministries Swaziland, written by Roberta Salvador. This article was reprinted from the NYU Social Work Fall 2006/ Winter 2007 Alumni Newsletter. (Sr. Barbara received a Masters in Social Work from NYU in 1995.) The article is also available as a PDF online at:

Providing Care in a Land of Crisis:
Swaziland Mission

Sr. Barbara Staley, MSC (MSW ’95), works hard to provide a holistic program of care for the 127 children at St. Philip’s Mission, a hostel for orphans in Swaziland.

The small African nation currently has the highest known rate of HIV infection among its adult population, at roughly 40 percent, and tuberculosis is also widespread. Sr. Barbara is witness to the heavy toll this crisis is taking on the region’s clan and family structures, leaving thousands orphaned. Sr. Barbara, a nun who is a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (also known as the Cabrini Sisters), together with a staff of 16, provides health care, nutrition, and counseling for the hostel’s children. The Mission also pays the fees allowing them to attend school.

While the traditional family within the Swazi kingdom is polygamous, and children normally have several parent figures, the spread of HIV has strained the extended family support system. Staley said that she has “broken new ground” by working with heads of households within local chiefdoms, gaining social acceptance for the Mission as “co-parent,” caring for children with the permission of each orphan’s extended family. In order for a male child to keep his legal rights as a member of a tribal group, he needs to return to his homeland and extended family several times
a year; the Mission arranges those visits as well.

In a recent interview with the SSW Newsletter, Sr. Barbara said that she puts her clinical training to use every day since she arrived at the Mission in 2004. She credits her education at NYU with helping her understand cross-cultural sensitivities and commit to high standards in a challenging environment. “From a program point of view, we could pass any child program audit in the U.S.,” she said of St.Philip’s. Sharing the land with the hostel is a hospital that treats about 600 HIV-positive patients, including providing medicine, counseling, AIDS education, and meals. The Mission has recently acquired five hectares (about 10 acres) of land for the purpose of growing crops, to supplement the nutritional needs of the orphans and the hospital patients.

The quality of care at St.Phillip’s generates operating costs higher than other charity-run facilities in the region, said Sr.Barbara, noting that St. Philip’s spends an average of $1,200 annually for every child,compared to $100 per year/child at other missions. She also stressed that the need is increasing— although affordable generic medicines became available to Swazi patients in 2004, the rate of infection is still rising. There remains a powerful social stigma attached to acknowledging infection, she said. Under these circumstances, “you’re going to have more orphans.”

The Mission is entirely supported by individual donors. To learn more about the Cabrini Sisters’ work in Swaziland, go to

A Visit to a Homestead

We often go on home-based healthcare visits to the homesteads. This involves driving out through the bush on a dirt road to get to someone who may be too sick to come visit us.

People live in stick and mud huts with no running water or electricity. We take food to people and distribute it if they come to us. Also, we assess their health and test blood or take them to the hospital if needed.

Thandiwe here is in a position of submission on the welcome mat.

Below is a photo of Bobby Farris, who served as a volunteer nurse on the Mission, and Siphiwe. Siphiwe is one of our patients. She is blind- one of the side effects of HIV. Siphiwe means “give” in Siswati. (Every Swazi name has a meaning, named after some special event or significance in a person’s life.) Siphiwe has late-stage HIV. She was one of our earliest ARV patients. Here, Bobby is checking in on her. Siphiwe has been on ARVs for two years now.

This is the typical scene at a child-headed homestead. There are an estimated 95,000 orphans ages 0-17 in a country of only 1.1 million (1/8 the population of New York City alone). We have 127 orphans and vulnerable children at the hostel, and we’ve built more hostel space in the past to try to take on more, because children have to be turned away. Grandparents, relatives, and unattended children walk in from the bush for help. Hopefully, we can do more and more things to build the economy and infrastructure of the Mission.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart

Yesterday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is an important day to us “Cabrini Sisters,” who are really called and understand ourselves to be Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a time when we Missionary Sisters and our Lay Missionaries recommit ourselves to God and to the service of God’s people. It is a time of celebration wherever we are in the world.

The children at the Hostel worked all week on writing songs and preparing dramas for some of the parables. They wrote songs about God’s love, and did nice dancing to go along with their projects. They then led the activities for all of our staff and the other people who live near by and love to pray and celebrate God. They were wonderful and God’s love for them and theirs for him were palpable.

It was a very blessed and grace-filled day. We hung a black African Jesus in each of the dorms. And we ended by having a big celebration- a barbecue where we also ate cake and ice cream. I think it may have been the first time the children had ever had ice cream. All the staff at Cabrini Ministries were also invited and enjoyed the day very much.

I am such a fortunate person to be allowed to work with these kids and to help normalize their lives a bit by the ministries we do here. Without the help of so many people we could never do this. Thanks to everyone for caring about these children in Swaziland.

I also want everyone to know that the children in the NY Times feature by Nic Kristof, as well as five other children that Mr. Kristof interviewed while he was here, have all had their new uniforms purchased for them. They should be wearing them by Monday.

Blessings, Sr. Barbara

"There is Hope" Article by Barbara Carr


A little girl has touched my heart, and I hope she will touch yours, too. Temdoline is her name, and she lives in Swaziland, Southern Africa, where at 9 years old she is a mother to her siblings, having one by one lost her father, mother, grandmother, and older brother to HIV/AIDS. Her aunt will die of the disease soon, leaving the children to fend for themselves.

Her only food is lunch, provided at school by the World Food Program (
Temdoline says, “Every day I go to school without breakfast, and every day I go to bed without dinner.” Home is a makeshift shelter with a dirt floor. She has one dress to wear, a school uniform with no back to the skirt. To preserve that tattered rag, after school she changes into a pair of shorts, her only other clothing, and is too ashamed to go out without a top.

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has been writing about Temdoline and other orphan children since his recent trip to sub-Saharan Africa, and you can read his op-ed reports and see his video called: “The World Hasn’t Moved On” at

I wrote him to ask what I could do to help Temdoline and others, and he wrote me back about the Cabrini Foundation and the work that the Cabrini Sisters are doing in Swaziland to help orphaned children and people coping with AIDS. I have been corresponding with Sister Barbara Staley of the Cabrini Mission there, who has told me about their efforts and ways that I could help. I hope you will consider doing something for them also…….most of us who have more than we need are only too happy to help, if we can find out how.

Here are some statistics about HIV/AIDS. They are staggering, but PLEASE read them.

3/4 of HIV/AIDS victims live in sub-Saharan Africa. 13 million African children are orphans because of the loss of their parents from this disease.

In the next 4 years, by 2010, there will be 42 million orphans in Africa, and by 2025, 100 million. Swaziland has the highest incidence of AIDS in the world, with 40% of adults infected. The life expectancy there has dropped from 55 years to 34.

Worldwide, there are 2.3 million children infected, 700,000 in 2005 alone, and 3 million people die from AIDS each year, half of them children under 15, mostly Africans infected during childbirth. 7,900 die every day from the disease, including one child every minute. Since AIDS was recognized in 1981, 25 million people have died, and 40 million others are infected.

By 2020, 70 million people will have died from the disease. In India, 5.7 million people have AIDS, 1% of the total population of 1.1 billion people. In South Africa, 5.5 million people are infected, but while a similarly upsetting number, it represents an appalling 19% of the population of 47 million. 90% of people with the virus don’t know they have it.

$1.6 Billion was spent fighting the disease in 2001, $8.3 Billion in 2005, and the UN says $17 Billion is needed for 2007. In 2003, the U.S. pledged $15 Billion over 5 years, about what we spend in six weeks on the War in Iraq. A $4 dose of NEVIRAPINE will prevent passing the AIDS virus between mother and child during birth, but less than 10% get the drug.

This disease has moved from marginalized groups of the population to mainstream, with most victims now innocent children. There is HOPE if there is HELP. Kenya is providing free ARV (Anti-retroviral Drugs) to AIDS victims, and has reduced prevalence from 14% in 1997 to 4% today. It’s a matter of getting HELP where it can make a difference.

Here are some ways you can help Temdoline and other children like her. Realizing that it is easiest for people who want to help to make a financial donation, this can be done on line at Their website includes full information about their program in Swaziland, and Sister Staley assures me that, if designated for the “Swaziland Mission”, 100% of monetary contributions will go directly to their orphanage and their efforts to care for HIV/AIDS victims. A donation can be made by phone at 212-995-7003, or you can send it by mail to: The Cabrini Mission Foundation, 222 East 19th St. 5D, New York, New York 10003.

Specific information can be obtained through e-mail at Sister Staley understands that many people prefer to send goods, and has given me a list of items of particular need, including: multivitamins, toiletries, pens, paper, markers, paper clips, black ankle socks, new underwear, boys and girls shoes up to size 11, shirts, skirts and dresses, blankets, pillow cases, and single sheets. She notes that it is ESSENTIAL that packages be marked “DONATION FOR OVC’s” (orphaned and vulnerable children) because otherwise they will have to pay a high import tax upon receipt. Packages can be sent to: Cabrini Ministries, P.O. Box 5183, Manzini, M200 Swaziland, Southern Africa.

The Cabrini Mission is 50 miles from this post office, and parcels may take up to 3 months to reach them, but they make the trip frequently to take patients for medical treatment, so can pick up parcels without a problem. She advises that if you would like acknowledgment of receipt, please put a note inside the box with your e-mail address on it, and she will send you an e-mail to let you know it has arrived.

I often think of the “simple life”, when thoughts are consumed with the tasks of the day and the seasons impose the requirements of survival on decisions, when news of the world rarely intrudes, and life is reduced to bare existence on a specific place on earth.

Today, the various media most Americans engage with during our day bring the plight of the whole human race to our attention, and our emotions are drawn to the far corners of our globe. It takes an effort to focus on how to “spend” one’s emotional energy, because there are so many issues, so many in need from such myriad causes.

It is easy to become numb and turn away from the painful reality endured by others. But, the future beckons us. We may linger in memories of the past and be focused on the present, but the future is where we are headed……..and the children of our world, and their plight, are our future.

I can think of so many ways we Americans can help children in need around the globe. If every classroom in America raised money or sent packages of essential goods to an adopted classroom in a developing country, just imagine the good will that we could establish. It is one small way we could regain the soul of America, as well as satisfy our own. I hope you will join me in making a difference for the children in Swaziland, who are able to find some joy and comfort because the Sisters of the Cabrini Mission are devoted to helping them find their way, when all seems lost. I can only do a little by myself, but together we can do a lot.

Barbara Carr, New Harbor, Maine
Lincoln County Weekly, Damariscotta, ME 04554 June 14, 2006

Knitting & Crocheting

This is our crocheting group. Someone had donated yarn. We don’t have knitting needles- the children just use pieces of metal. The older woman is a lady from the community. She teaches them how to knit and crochet. She is HIV positive, and was receiving our services, and wanted to give something back. So she decided that she’d teach the children to knit and crochet. It’s worked out wonderfully. They love it. Even the boys love to crochet. Scroll down to see some of the wonderful things the children have made.

Thandiwe Mathunjwa, Health Care Director at Cabrini Ministries Swaziland, Speaks at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS

From the “News and Events” section of the Cabrini Mission Foundation website (

Cabrini Ministries, St. Philip’s Mission, Swaziland Health Care Director Addresses United Nations Assembly on HIV/AIDS/TB

Thandiwe Mathunjwa is the Director of Cabrini Ministries Health Care Outreach in the Lubombo lowveld of Swaziland. She addressed the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS/TB as one of 24 civil society speakers from around the world. This is the first time the United Nations allowed the civil society representatives to speak directly with the international country delegations so that the final document and direction in dealing with the AIDS pandemic would contain the wisdom and concerns of governments as well as community based, faith based and other non-governmental organization.

Thandiwe received this invitation through UNANIMA International, an NGO in which the Missionary Sisters participate, to present some of our concerns regarding children and AIDS.

In her remarks, Thandiwe implored those in attendance at the UN Special Session, “I ask you to commit yourselves as governments, World Bank and donor nations to make sure that the funding for HIV and TB drugs DOES NOT DRY UP…that the children we need for the future of our countries are allowed to have a future.”

“From our experience – and we believe this to be true in many other countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia – particularly in rural areas – THREE major difficulties are

* Fear of not being able to continue treatment due to lack of free medicine for HIV and TB

* Lack of employment possibilities for sustaining life and hope…in this situation drinking and promiscuous sexual behavior increases

* Lack of infrastructure like roads, clean water, irrigation systems and a fairly priced, regulated transportation system which allows reasonable access to what is available for our children as they grow.”

“We ask the governments to reflect on, act on, and sustain a plan which will bring about sustainability of access to needed medicines AND universal access to a life of productivity and hope through providing the basic infrastructure necessary for living a human life.”

Click on the link below to read a summary of the UNGASS meeting from the UNANIMA International website:

Also, click on the link below to read a transcript of Thandiwe speaking on a UN Radio program about her visit to the UN: