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- www.ywam.org ), 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