Swazi people in the rural area where Cabrini Ministries is located traditionally made their livelihood as subsistence farmers, and the primary crop was maize (corn).
Corn, however, does not fare well in drought. In addition, the HIV/AIDS crisis affects the success of a family’s agricultural endeavors. The disease affects the adult generation that is in the prime of their working years. Children whose parents are sick or dead from AIDS often do not have the skills to successfully farm by themselves.
We have five hectares (10 acres) of land that we are cultivating at St. Philip’s Mission. We use the harvest from our farm to supplement the diets of the children at our hostel, the people we serve with our healthcare outreach program, and other children and families on homesteads. Our farm is a powerful symbol of life and hope for the community, and the children also help out on and learn valuable agricultural skills from the staff.
Our Dedicated Staff
We are proud to report that our irrigation system is working well and is the key to our farm being productive amidst the drought. As the heat ends and we go into the winter months, the crops are more abundant and the HIV patients we serve are receiving more fresh vegetables each week. Our butternut squash has been a real winner this year, and we think it is the best in Swaziland.
Our Food Supplies
We also receive food from the World Food Programme (cooking oil and a nutrient-enhanced corn-soya blend) and buy our food from the markets (thanks to our donors). We are seeing a great need for more food supplies in the area, especially for our HIV and TB patients. People taking HIV medications (ARVs) need to take those medications with food, or they will get sick. Unfortunately, one meal of mealie (ground corn) a day does not provide the sustenance they need to absorb and use well the medicines they are receiving. Our agriculture department is looking into what crops that grow well are particularly beneficial to people, and will help the most people.
Food Distribution: the Corn-Soya Blend from World Food Programme
Food Distribution: Greens from Our Farm
Many of the children, when they first came to live at the hostel, had been malnourished, and took a while to adjust to understanding that they would have regular food. They would often gorge instinctually, and we would have to tell them to slow down, and eat calmly and slowly and just enough. From not knowing when food would come again, the kids learned that when it did come to eat as much as fast as possible. Experiencing the pain of hunger so young, you don’t forget it easily.
Younger Children Having a School Meal
Medications must be taken with food
Older children at the hostel eating dinner
Blessings and thanks to all of our friends and supporters out there! Together we form a circle of love which brings the living water of love to this dry area.
Srs. Barbara & Diane