Christmas 2008

Dear sisters and brothers, friends and benefactors,

May our loving God bring you deep joy and peace in this time of Christmas. We remember again our humble God coming into this world, becoming one with us so that we could become one with Him.

It is always a “wonder” to remember that God came among us small, vulnerable, into a poor country ruled and oppressed by another country; his mother had no proper place to give birth and in his early years he lived as a refugee in another country. A very unlikely, paradoxical God and Saviour! And yet in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we have been given access to our good God and to abundant life without end.

It is because of the great Love which we celebrate at Christmas that we respond with love by caring for those who are vulnerable today. Those of us who work directly with the orphans and the sick, those who pray for this work, and those who contribute material resources for this work all participate in returning love for Love. All of us together continue this message of love and reconciliation in today’s world.

Sr. Barbara, myself (Sr. Diane) and all the staff of Cabrini Ministries thank you for your kindness and generosity and for participating with us in the life-giving circle of love. May you and your loved ones be blessed again and again.

Sincerely, Srs. Diane and Barbara

How to Build a House… and a Community

Hello Everyone!

Back in May, as you know, we at Cabrini Ministries were not really in the business of building houses. We provide educational support and housing for orphans at the hostel, and healthcare and nutritional support for the local community with our drop-in center and outreach programs. But in June, a string of opportunities propelled us head-first into residential construction, so we started building houses.

First, some context… The Swazis in our community often talk about how much better things were 30 years ago. Traditional mud and stick huts were better maintained, and thatch roofs were made of the expensive, good quality thatch from outside the area. Well-built and well-maintained traditional huts do fare decently in rough weather and heat. But today, because the adult labor force has been hit so hard by HIV and AIDS, many people can’t maintain their huts as well as in the past. People use cheaper thatch that must be replaced every year, and there are less healthy adults to do this. As a result, many of the huts are in poor shape, with no roofs and not much protection from the elements. Some living situations are not even huts, but makeshift structures. Orphans and the elderly are two groups in particular need of better housing.

The Swazi government organization NERCHA (The National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS in Swaziland) receives money from the Global Fund for improvement projects in Swaziland. We contacted NERCHA and shared that our community was in need of housing, and in June we were awarded a grant of about $100,000 to produce 35 houses for the most in-need orphans and elderly in our community by December. We immediately got started. The photo above is the existing hut in poor condition (as you can see, with no real roof) from the homestead where we built house #1. In the photos below, we will take you through the process of building a house as we learned to do it.

The houses we built were made of cement, so first, you need many bags of cement.

With those bags of cement, we made bricks. You can build about 32-37 cement cinder blocks out of one bag of cement, sand, and water. It takes between 350-420 bricks to make one house. So we had to make a lot of bricks.

We used our maize-drying area as a makeshift brickyard because it is fenced. The bricks need to be watered three times a day as they are drying, and they take 7-14 days to fully dry.

Next step is mixing the cement and pouring the foundation. The houses are fifteen feet by fifteen feet.

We then lay and mortar the bricks and put in some steel reinforcers. This house is a double-house for a boy and a girl family of orphans so they could each have their own space.

One of the best parts about this project is that we were able to hire local young men to work on the houses as contractors. There are lines at the door for jobs in this area, so this was especially helpful to the community. They were paid the market rate and did a great job. We also had the guidance of Mr. Cuelho from Manzini who helped as a construction manager. And family members and neighbors pitched in. As a result, I believe we were the fastest and most organized house-builders NERCHA has worked with yet.

The last major step is smoothing the cement over the bricks, and putting in the windows, door, and roof. And finally…

Ta-da! A finished house. We are on schedule to complete all the houses by December. These houses were logistically challenging to build, with almost all the materials being made at St. Philip’s Mission, then being transported out to homesteads for construction. But they will be long-lasting and will stand up to weather and heat well. Also, particularly for the orphans receiving the houses, this will help them to be less of a burden on their extended families, and a bit more easily adjusted into society.

These houses are top-of-the-line for the area, and this project has had a huge effect on people and hope in the community. People have really taken pride in the process and everyone has been happy and excited about it. We are so grateful for the grant and the experience!

Happy Thanksgiving to our friends and family in the U.S.
Blessings and love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Today the Hawk Takes One Chick at the Margaret Mead Film Festival NYC

On November 15 2008 at 6pm in NYC, there will be a screening of Today the Hawk Takes One Chick as part of the Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival.

This 72 minute film was shot entirely on location in our community and features the adults and children we serve, as it presents the lives of three grandmothers and the challenges they face. Read more about the issues in the film’s study guide:

The film will be shown in the Linder Theater at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024. Both Jane Gillooly (the filmmaker) and Sr. Barbara will be there, so please come see us if you can!

Update on Nick Kristof’s Kids

Hello everyone,
(Apologies for the delay in communications… email and phone service in the bush have been sparse lately.)
We would like to update you on a few things in the next few weeks.

First, we wanted to take a longer-term look at several children’s lives.

In May of 2006, New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof visited us in Swaziland to do a feature about AIDS. His work ended up in the form of a short New York Times video, available for Times Select subscribers at: The World Hasn’t Moved On. Click here to watch:

In the video, Kristof focuses on children orphaned by AIDS, and profiles three groups of children orphaned by AIDS in our community. It is interesting to look at each of these groups of children and see how they are faring since the video was shot over a year and half ago.

Nomzamo, a 12-year-old orphan, is struggling to take care of her two younger sisters at the time of the video. She must feed, clothe, and otherwise raise her sisters. At the time of the video, Nomzamo and her sisters lived in a mud and stick hut with a poor roof. They did have a living grandmother, but the grandmother worked on a farm several towns away and was gone all week only to visit with them on the weekends.

Nomzamo and her sisters are doing somewhat better now, by happy fault. For one, the grandmother retired, so though she is very old, she is an adult presence in the home. Cabrini Ministries visited the homestead and talked with the grandmother about boarding the children at the hostel, but the grandmother refused, because she said she needed Nomzamo to cook for her and to keep the house safe so no one would steal from her. They are having a difficult time affording and otherwise obtaining food. They did receive donations from the World Food Programme, but run out, so Cabrini checks in regularly and helps with corn-soya and mealie-meal. The land around them is very dry from the drought and they are unable to grow crops. (Read more about the food crisis or the drought here or here.)

One positive, unexpected turn of events was that their house was fully rebuilt by SWADE (Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise). SWADE is building a dam nearby and many residents, including Nomzamo’s household, were forced to relocate. Their amount of land was preserved, however, and a house was built with better structure and materials as a replacement. The family now lives in a very solid, concrete house, painted, with windows.

Cabrini Ministries also supports Nomzamo and her sisters with extra school expenses. The government covers school tuition for all registered orphans, but there are other expenses such as uniforms, shoes, supplies, etc. that are necessary but not covered. (Read more about school fees for orphans here.)Through a foundation grant and sponsorships from private donors, we are able to pay for about 100 children’s extra school expenses and ensure they are able to go to school.

Wandile and Temdoline, portrayed as brother and sister in the video, are not actually related but are two orphans that have stayed with each other. They lived with Wandile’s aunt at the time, who was shown very sick with AIDS, unable to provide food for the family and close to death.

Wandile’s aunt became a patient of Cabrini Ministries, and was put on anti-retroviral medication. She responded very well to the treatment and got some of her health back, but food was still difficult to secure. The homestead was run as a part-time shebeen, which is an illegal home-brewing drinking hut. Shebeens tend to leave children extra vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The aunt eventually abandoned the children and took the last of the food.

The children followed another child home from school one day hungry and having no place to go. The child’s mother, which was Wandile and Temdoline’s neighbor, though barely having enough to feed her own children, could not turn Wandile and Temdoline away. This kind of woman reminds us of our unity as a worldwide family and our duties as “neighbors” to each other. The children are currently living with this neighbor.

This is a common situation in Swaziland of a family being overstretched taking on extra members, with the orphaned children being at the end of the receiving line and last to get their needs met. Cabrini Ministries checks in with this homestead regularly and tries to provide help where needed.

Siphiso says in the video he thought about suicide after he had watched both parents die, but that he didn’t want to abandon his two younger brothers. We thank God for Siphiso today, because we have been happy to have had an opportunity to see him grow, and he and his brothers are doing much better under Cabrini’s care. Siphiso and his brothers were living on their own as a child-headed homestead.

We were able to have Siphiso and his brothers move into the Cabrini hostel in late 2006. Another important thing we helped Siphiso and his brothers with was figuring out his extended family relationships in the area, which were complicated, so now they are reintegrating into their family and staying with adult relatives over school breaks.

One amazing thing is how much Siphiso has grown! He is now taller than many of the adults around here. We think this is one of the visible consequences of good nutrition that we are beginning to see over time with many of the children in the hostel. Siphiso is 17 but as a result of his past, only in grade 6. Because he is so tall, he sometimes gets made fun of by the younger students. We will probably pull him out of the school system after his grade 7 exams and support him to go to trade school, which tends to make older students like him feel much more confident and successful.

The other brothers, Mcolisi and Sipho, are doing well, physically healthy and growing tall too.

Thanks to Nick Kristof for his original reportage, and thanks to all our supporters that help us improve the lives of such children over the long-term.

Love and blessings,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Volunteers & Visitors Series: Katie McCaskie and Youth With A Mission (YWAM)

For being out in the middle of the bush, Cabrini Ministries receives its fair share of visitors and volunteers, that bring to us a wonderful flow of fresh air, positive attitudes, a variety of aid and assistance, and always good times… !

We wanted to share with you some of the photos and perspectives of a few of these visitors and volunteers as part of a series, and honor all of them in spirit for all that they’ve brought to us. Siyabonga (Thanks)!


Sr. Barbara & Sr. Diane

Volunteer visitor Katie McCaskie shares her great writing and photos below about her time here recently:

“As part of a four-month odyssey through Africa, I spent three weeks with Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland and I can honestly say that it was the most meaningful and enjoyable time of my whole trip! I’m a clinical social worker and during graduate school I had the privilege of working at Cabrini Immigrant Services, a grassroots agency in NYC run by another amazing Cabrini woman, Sr. Pietrina Raccuglia. At her suggestion, I contacted Sr. Barbara and Sr. Diane about spending some time with them in Swaziland and they kindly agreed.

“Shortly after arriving, Sr. Barbara told me that one of my jobs would be organizing the two-week stay of a volunteer group from Youth With A Mission (YWAM- ), an international Christian organization. The group included 8 volunteers, ranging in age from 19 to 30 from 6 different countries: USA (Jessica Landrus, Jane Kim, Victoria Vail), Germany (Johannes Birzele), Northern Ireland (Debra Lindsay), Australia (Luana Martin), Malawi (Daniel Kaphuka) and South Korea (Audrey Oh). It was quite a multicultural bunch. They had already spent several weeks together taking classes in South Africa and were completing their field experience in another area of Swaziland and at Cabrini Ministries (CM).

L to R first row: Jane, Joyce, and Johannes; second row: Luana, Sr. Diane, Jessica, Audrey, Debbie, Victoria, and Katie; third row: Daniel

“Energetic and enthusiastic, the group came ready to contribute and accomplished a great deal in two weeks, including painting the ‘K-Line’ (turning a truck-size utilitarian storage box into an aesthetically pleasing structure and a potential shady location for children to read, study, etc); constructing a protective fence around the hostel; setting up Shelterbox tents (read about Shelterbox at Cabrini here) on homesteads for families in need; cleaning the entire health care outreach center and assisting with services; conducting vision screenings and measuring the weight and height of all the children returning to the hostel after school vacation; and helping with Olympic Day. Here are some photos demonstrating their handiwork:

Jessica painting the K-Line

Daniel and Johannes building the fence

Jane and Debbie decorating the hostel

Victoria and Audrey decorating the hostel

“I was thankful to work with Joyce Djokoto, a long-term employee of Cabrini Ministries, who helped make the process a smooth and enjoyable one for both the YWAM volunteers and the Cabrini community. I also worked with Joyce on the educational enrichment program with David Senzanje, the Director of Education, and Mavis Steenkamp, a teacher. CM started this program to support students while school is out of session and they are staying on homesteads with their guardians. The students came to St. Philip’s Monday through Thursday for a half day and had the opportunity to receive individualized attention in a more dynamic, innovative way than is usually available to them at school.

“Lucky for me, I was at CM for two very special events which were both happening for the first time ever. The first was a staff outing to Mantenga Falls organized by Maggie Horne, a fabulous Peace Corp volunteer who has been working at CM since February. The staff, many of whom were visiting the falls for the first time in their lives, observed and spontaneously participated in a traditional dance performance and afterwards, engaged in some fun competition involving water balloons and “three legs.” 🙂 It was so wonderful to see everyone having so much fun, especially knowing some of the seemingly insurmountable challenges many of them have had to overcome just to be alive.

The staff at Mantenga Falls

Sr. Barbara and Ms. Mamba dancing at Mantenga

“The following week, Maggie organized an ‘Olympic Day,’ a delightful afternoon of games and activities to welcome the children back from their homesteads. The day was also part of a larger effort to create a healthy sense of competition in the hostels and highlight the children’s special accomplishments and talents. The YWAM volunteers assisted Maggie in decorating the hostels with signs about hygiene, positive affirmations, and child-friendly pictures, including the four animals that served as the team mascots: cobra, zebra, cheetah and lion. It was a joy to watch these children really PLAY, something that they have had very little opportunity to do in their lives as a result of extreme loss and hardship, and the cultural mores that expect children to be somewhat seen and not heard. The day ended with an American style barbeque with the help of Sr. Barbara who provided some basic ed on hamburgers and hotdogs!

Sr. Diane and kids on Olympic Day

COBRAS! on Olympic Day

Jane and Audrey and friends on Olympic Day

Three-legged race on Olympic Day

“I was exhausted by the end of the three weeks, but felt so blessed to be welcomed into the community and invigorated by the dedication that I witnessed. I’m grateful to the staff for their willingness to get to know me and share their knowledge and experiences, even though it was only for a short time. I learned so much from Sr. Barbara and Sr. Diane about HIV, AIDS and TB in Swaziland and the grave consequences for the nation and its future. Their respect for the Swazis was clearly apparent, and like good social workers, they approach their work with an understanding that the client or the community is the expert of their own lives. Their dedication and compassion seem endless and it was incredibly inspiring. It was a pleasure and a privilege to spend valuable time with such passionate, open-minded, and remarkable women.”

Colleen-another terrific Peace Corps volunteer who has been helping at Cabrini the last few months- and Katie enjoying the American-style BBQ

From Our Farm to Your Table: Income-Generating Agricultural Projects That Make A Difference

If all goes well, the chilies that we have been growing on our farm at Cabrini Ministries will soon end up in bottles of Tabasco sauce.

This is the magic of connections that make things grow. Toby Ward, a friend who helped us pick up the pieces after the storm damage, suggested we get in touch with someone at an organization called Technoserve, which helps small farmers find markets for their crops.

We have had good success with growing chile peppers in the past, as they like our very hot weather. We’ve produced surplus of this crop- beyond what we needed to supplement the nutrition of the OVC children in the hostel and our 800 health care patients a month- so we wanted to sell the extra peppers for income to put back into the agriculture project in the hopes that it will be able to support itself soon enough. Where we needed help was finding people to buy our surplus produce. We tried approaching grocers, but many already had their chosen vendors and we couldn’t find larger-scale buyers that would make the project worth it.

Enter Technoserve… They not only provided the marketing connection to a top-notch company like Tabasco, but they also offer a lot of great technological advice about growing crops. For example, when growing chilies, the crops must be planted and grow very straight, otherwise they grow ‘J roots’ that prevent good peppers from forming. This kind of advice is critical to our Swazi agricultural staff members and volunteers, because we can grow better crops and generate more income for the project to make it more sustainable, and everyone can take the agricultural knowledge home, share with their communities, and grow better crops on their homesteads. We’ve started tilling the soil and making plans to grow Tabasco’s special breed of chile. If all goes well, we should have 4-5 acres of chilies for Tabasco by December.

Click below to see a video about Technoserve’s work with farmers in Swaziland:

We’ve also made a connection with SWADE, the Swaziland Water and Agriculture Development Enterprise. They have put in a dam near us for irrigation for poor farmers to grow cash crops. They’re going to use two acres of our land, put in irrigation, grow experimental cash crops, and teach the local people how to grow the crops on their own homesteads. They provide all the ‘input’- the seedlings, the labor, and technical advice, and we get to keep the produce for the children and our patients. They will also help us find markets for the produce. One of the first experimental export crops will be gooseberries- apparently there is a good market in Australia and South Africa for gooseberries.

We’re beginning to feel very hopeful about the longer-term sustainability of our agriculture project due to these developments. We’ve always been able to grow good produce, but the marketing has been slow-coming for us. These projects are helping us get our foot through the door and helping local people improve their abilities to support themselves.

Cheers to good friends, good ideas, good health, and good food!

Srs. Barbara and Diane

Article in the Swazi Observer about Cabrini Ministries’ Orphan Care

Hello friends,

We wanted to share with you the following article that was written by Calsile Masilela, a writer for the Swazi Observer (one of two major newspapers here) that came to visit us, and who we feel really understands our works.

As the adult generation ages 15-49 struggles with a 34% HIV prevalence rate and more people that age are dying, their children are left behind as orphans to be taken care of by extended family or neighbors. Grandmothers (gogos) like Gogo Shongwe portrayed in the article below often take on caretaking duties at an age when they would normally expect care themselves.

We at Cabrini Ministries try to ease the burden on families affected by HIV/AIDS by helping to raise orphaned and vulnerable children with a co-parenting approach, providing shelter, food, clothing, school fees, psychosocial support, health care, etc. for orphaned children while also helping them maintain a connection with home and their remaining family members. We also try to help struggling caretakers like Gogo Shongwe with food and health care.

This article was published in the Swazi Observer, Monday May 5, 2008.

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… As the drought hits hard on Lubombo folk

LUBOMBO drought-ravaged residents want action against the devastating effects of poverty.

Photo of Gogo Shongwe by Jane Gillooly

  Gogo (granny) Maria Shongwe, who lives with her orphaned 11 grandchildren, said she had never expected to live under such harsh conditions. Gogo Shongwe related that in the past they used to engage in farming but stopped because of the drought.

  “We now depend on food aid, which is also not reliable because at times we go for one to two months without receiving the rations,” said Gogo Shongwe. She added that she was disturbed that some of the grandchildren do not go to school because she could not afford to pay for their school fees.

  She mentioned that out of the 11 grandchildren only five go to school, thanks to Cabrini Ministries.

This is one of Gogo Shongwe’s grandchildren that lives at the Cabrini Ministries hostel during the school year and is doing well.

  “I really wish the mission staff could be blessed for they care for the needy like ourselves. When I get to the mission to visit my grandchildren at the hostel, they welcome me and I also feel at home,” she said, adding that they also give her some food to eat and some food to take home.

  Gogo Shongwe said if it was not for the mission a lot of children around that place would be dead by now.

  “My granddaugher, it is only now that we shall have a meal because the missionaries gave us some,” she said.

  Gogo Shongwe encouraged people to visit those areas so that they would see the situation in order to make proper interventions.

  “As winter approached, we have no warm clothes and there is nothing we can do from the little that I get from the grant. I used it all in buying mealie meal,” said Gogo Shongwe.

  On the other hand, Dumsile Tsabedze from Luvatsi urged government to look deeper into the issue of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children for she said it was painful for them as community members to watch children caring for themselves.

  “My neighbor died, she was living with her three children of which two are boys and a girl.

  “The children were left with their uncle, who then left them all by themselves with no house after the one they occupied collapsed,” said Tsabedze.

  Tsabedze said it was through mercy, for her family was also big and starving, that she was able to intervene to keep the children’s bodies and souls together. She expressed her gratitude to Cabrini Ministries, who also came to the rescue of the orphans and took them to the hostel.

  The missionaries take care of the children fully even during school holidays when they are with her.

Photo by Jane Gillooly

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If you’d like to learn more about Gogo Shongwe, she is also featured prominently in a documentary about Gogos (grandmothers) called Today the Hawk Takes One Chick by Jane Gillooly, which was filmed in our area. The film shows Gogo Shongwe’s day-to-day inspiring struggles to care for her grandchildren and raise the next generation. Click on the link below to go to the website where you can purchase the DVD of the film and learn more about the film project.

This is another of Gogo Shongwe’s grandchildren that lives at the Cabrini Ministries hostel.

There is hope in the children of the next generation- you can see it! These children have so much potential. And it is up to all of us to honor that and support orphaned, vulnerable, and needy children, so they can grow up and bring the world their best.

Blessings, love, and thanks to all who support the works,

Srs. Barbara and Diane

Living Cycle of Hope

This is Ncamsile. She is an employee at Cabrini Ministries. She is HIV+ and 29 years old.

Ncamsile discovered she was HIV+ in 2004, when she was working as a teacher, and found one morning she could not get out of bed. This is often the case in Swaziland- people do not acknowledge more subtle signs and symptoms of disease, and often seek health care only when gravely ill, probably because of a lack of health knowledge and the lack of a reliable system from which to receive care. Ncamsile’s CD4 (or T-cell) count was only 100 when she first sought treatment, which is considered late-stage AIDS and is a life-threatening level of illness. Her sister came in for treatment as well, Sr. Diane went out to see and try to treat her, but she passed away soon after. Ncamsile also lost another sister and brother to the disease. Ncamsile is responsible for raising her sister’s two children who were orphaned now.

Photo:Luis Maximiano

Once she was on ARV treatment, she responded very well. She had to leave her job and recuperate for a month until she felt her health return. When she felt well again, she applied for a job at Cabrini Ministries; we hired her in February of 2005. At first she worked as the residential manager of the hostel, then she got more and more involved with healthcare. She also began to disclose her HIV+ status publicly.

Photo:Luis Maximiano

Swaziland is a country where HIV+ status has been highly stigmatized, especially in the more traditional, rural areas. Even though many people have become HIV+ and died of AIDS, people avoid talking about it directly, instead saying that a person was “very sick” or had “the plague”. Shame, fear and ignorance keep people quiet about HIV/AIDS, and it has the very detrimental effect of delaying important preventions like testing and treatment. Ncamsile is the first person that has revealed her status in the local area where she was well known. This takes so much courage and self-esteem and we respect her so much for that.

Photo:Luis Maximiano

Because she has been willing to disclose her HIV+ status, she has become what is known as an “expert client”- someone who can speak from their own experience to others about living with HIV/AIDS. When she speaks, the community listens. Because she is a local Swazi, her voice has much more authority than even a nurse or an outsider. We are in the process of developing a formalized community health education program, and she will head that up. It is people like her doing community education that destigmatize HIV/AIDS and help save people’s lives through sharing information. Also the naturally forming communities we see in our healthcare department, such as people riding together in our vehicles to get treatment, coming together at the walk-in clinic to get ARV treatments, or coming to get food parcels at the same time, are a naturally built open support system that helps patients to share their HIV status and actively seek care without shame.

As an employer, Cabrini Ministries has an attitude of affirmative action for people living with HIV/AIDS. When we have a job position open, and two equally qualified people apply but one of them is HIV+, we would choose to hire the HIV+ person. There are a few reasons for that. First because HIV/AIDS strikes the young, working population who are usually the main breadwinners for the whole extended family. The person’s family has probably already been undermined by the person’s illness. Also, we can never overlook the importance of psychosocial support. The HIV+ person needs to have meaning, purpose, and hope in their lives to go on, and one of the things that gives anybody hope is a job. If you have a healthy person and a person who thought they were going to die of HIV/AIDS, a person who thinks they’re going to die needs more hope and things to give them hope.

(Drawing by one of the OVC kids in the hostel)

Ncamsile recognizes the importance of sharing her experience with her community, and works at giving all she can to the orphans she raises at home and in the hostel, and to the patients that are sick like she was in the past. Our employees at Cabrini Ministries like Ncamsile are a part of a living cycle of change, regeneration, and hope. Thanks to everyone that keeps the spirit of such good work alive everywhere out there and at Cabrini Ministries here.

Srs. Barbara and Diane

Easter Blessings to All From Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland

Dear Friends, Benefactors, and Readers,

A blessed Easter Season to each and all of you from Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland.

The Lenten and Easter Seasons are a time to reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Here in Swaziland Sr. Barbara and I do this by reflecting, discussing, and meditating on the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus as described in the Scriptures and in the ongoing life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus in the people and situations which Cabrini Ministries serves.

One of the scripture readings for Good Friday from Isaiah 52 says:

There was no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance
that would attract us,
Spurned and avoided by men; suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
One of those from whom men hide their faces,
Spurned, held in no esteem

This Passion of Christ as described in Isaiah continues today in so many countries in this world. We see it continuing in Swaziland as it is crushed by suffering – small, forgotten, powerless in the grand scheme of things, made weaker and weaker by the loss of grandparents, parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins to HIV, AIDS and TB.

In the midst of humiliation, powerlessness, and suffering Jesus knew He was deeply loved by God and trusted God to save Him. The people of Swaziland served by Cabrini Ministries also know and trust in God’s love and salvation each day.

How is that possible? It is possible through the great kindnesses and help received from friends and benefactors like yourselves. There is new life and resurrection each time the children, the sick, the hungry, and homeless here in the lowveld know that education, medicine, food, shelter, clothing are available to them through your generosity. With great resilience the people gain hope from each kindness received.

We wish to thank you for bringing resurrection all through the year to thousands served here by your generosity. God is not outdone…you will receive more than you can ever give.

A blessed Easter Season,

Srs. Diane and Barbara

Healing and Caring- One Person At A Time

Hello out there!

Looking through the recent photos we took of the orphans at the hostel for sponsorship (Click here for more info about sponsorship), we were reminded that each child and teenager have their own distinctly individual personalities, backgrounds, and care requirements.

It is the same with our healthcare patients.

Photo: Luis Maximiano

When we are trying to deal with a complicated problem like HIV/AIDS and its secondary effects on a society, such as tuberculosis infection, poverty, and orphaned children, we’ve realized that the only way to tackle it is to take each individual on a case-by-case basis, one person at a time. This approach takes huge commitment, as it is labor intensive, organizationally intensive, and resource intensive. But, we believe it is the only way to make real change.

Considering problems like HIV/AIDS in Swaziland, it is easy for outsiders to just hear numbers and statistics, and lose connection to the people that are facing these issues. Here is a statistic: UNICEF says by 2010 there will be 150,000 orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15 in Swaziland. Here is the human reality of it: How can this many vulnerable children be on their own? Knowing how much individual care and love each child on this earth needs for their development, the reality of these statistics is heartbreaking. But we move forwards, one unique child at a time, and try to support their growth and healing- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Each child, and each person, is precious and wonderful.

Below is a link to an article about the thousands of orphans in the small country that cannot afford the fees to go to school (there is no public school in Swaziland), and how the government is failing on their promise to support them.

SWAZILAND: School gates close on orphans
Photo: IRIN
Vulnerable children at a Neighborhood Care Point

We do consider our commitment to personal care and attention of the individuals in our community the key to success. One of the specifics we’re working on now is developing a formal educational program for the OVC kids that ensures an individual approach to each child’s development. We’ve hired three new professional teaching staff that will help us design individual programs for the children and teenagers. And we’ve forged an exchange relationship with Cabrini College, to share skills and experience across the world. We’ll keep you updated on that…

Thanks for your support- it really makes a difference in these individual lives.
Blessings & love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane