Thank you!

We wanted to thank everyone who participated in the Sponsor-A-Child Fundraiser (it was a success!) and to give a general thank you for those who have supported us in the past year. It’s very humbling to think how good people have been and of the help that has been offered.

Here are some photos from the Chicago event:

Here is a photo of Sr. Barbara, Mzamo and Thandiwe visiting the St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson River:

Mzamo started out working in the hostel, and is now in training be the human resources manager for Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland. Thandiwe is the director of health care at Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland.

We wanted to share with you the story of one child at Cabrini who is sponsored, to illustrate what the sponsorship does for a young person.

This is Fanana. Both of his parents died, and when we discovered him he was living on the homestead of his father’s second wife. He was no blood relation to the family where he was living, and in Swazi tradition, blood relatives come first in importance for getting basic needs met and having any kind of social status, especially in families that are overburdened and stressed by illness and poverty. The family was physically abusive to him, renting him out as a cow-herder, and when he was found by our staff he was actually pulling a hand plow (that animals like donkeys usually pull) and was physically beaten if he wasn’t pulling it fast enough.

He came to live in the hostel in 2002. Almost all of our kids are malnourished when they arrive, and many have not been in school. He didn’t have much schooling- he had started school (first grade) in 2002 as an older student, and that is difficult for a student’s self-esteem. At Cabrini, Fanana was one of the first kids to participate in our Bridge School program, which is an intensive afterschool program for older children to accelerate their learning in order to catch up and be in the grade they should be for their age group. He completed grades 5, 6, and 7 in the year 2007. We also helped him reconnect with other family members so he has much better family involvement now, with blood relatives on a more stable homestead. They can be more involved in his life, because his needs are being met.

Now he is attending what is considered a very good boarding school. We have family meetings three times a year, where we meet with the hostel children’s remaining family members for a business-type meeting, and also a presentation from the children such as dancing, skits, and speeches, and we host a barbeque. We had the kids who were sent away to boarding school come because they’re very good students, so Fanana got in front of everyone talking in Siswati about his experience. Then in perfect English (which is a huge, amazing thing) he said, “For the benefit of my friends here in this room who do not speak Siswati, I will now repeat everything I just said in English.” He was so grown-up in the way that he did it, and he went on to say that he had gotten many opportunities from Cabrini, and that even though he was going to a school where there were a lot more privileged children, he said he wasn’t identifiable as an orphan. Cabrini had made sure he had clothes that made him look like a peer, and money for books and such, so he wasn’t stigmatized as different. And probably most of the kids don’t even really realize that he is an orphan. This is what a sponsorship gives to this child.

Fanana is an example of a young person who today would likely still be a cow-herder with not many other opportunities if it wasn’t for Cabrini and his sponsorship. He was a smart child who had so much more potential than that. He has made it into his second year of high school, and he will continue to make it; he’s blossomed into a natural leader. He also grew several inches taller this year. Without bridge school, he would still be in primary school. In a class of 90 he was ranked #10, so he’s doing very well. And he will go to college. A success story thanks to sponsorship.

If you’d like to sponsor a child, please visit:

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the U.S. and thank you for your support!

Blessings and love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Sponsor A Child

Hi Everyone,

On Sunday November 1 at Ben Lenz’s studio in Chicago, a benefit event for the Sponsor-A-Child Program will be held in the afternoon. (More on this later- we hope to see you soon!)

Our Sponsor-A-Child Program is the focus of the event as well as our overall fundraising lately, because we currently have a large group of children that are still unsponsored and need your help. Three of those children’s stories are featured below to illustrate why they need sponsorship, what sponsorship provides, and what it means for the child.

Khululiwe is a double orphan (meaning both parents have died) who was brought to our attention by former Cabrini staff member Simo. At the time, Simo was a member of a community service youth group that was started by a Cabrini Mission Corps volunteer. On a homestead visit, Simo and his group found an orphaned and very sick little girl, only 5 or 6 years old. Simo asked Cabrini to take her in to the hostel, and he kindly offered to pay her school fees (though he was only a young man who was trying to take care of himself and his own family). He also asked his mother for permission to bring Khululiwe into their homestead as a family member. The homestead accepted her, which is no small thing in such resource-limited settings- it is a great act of kindness. (Simo is now studying to be a teacher.)

When Khululiwe came to live at the Cabrini hostel, we first treated terrible sores on her head that were infected, and we discovered she had very bad tuberculosis, she was HIV positive, and she was dying. We worked with Good Shepherd Hospital to get her on ARVs and TB medicine, and she gets full medical treatment through Cabrini, which means once-a-month checkups plus treating any other opportunistic problems as needed. We are proud to report that her health has been restored. She’s got a lot of personality, she is very good about taking care of herself and taking her medications, and she teaches the other kids about HIV.

Recently we helped her find her father’s family, which in Swazi culture is where she belongs, to really be rooted and have hope for her future. She is now in her last year of primary school. Under the care of Cabrini, she’s gotten her health back, she has a promising future to continue on in secondary school, and she is getting re-established with her family and the local area where she comes from. Also, we aim to take the burden off of those families that are good enough to take orphans in, providing material resources and a lot of psychosocial support, so the children are accepted much more deeply as a real member of the family. Whenever children go home, we make sure there is enough food and resources for their homestead and themselves.

Khululiwe is a child that was dying and was given new life. If it hadn’t been for the intervention of this young man, reaching out, making a connection with Khululiwe and taking her under his wing, this little girl would have been dead. We strive to continue helping her strengthen her relationships with family, and to continue to provide her with healthcare. It’s sponsorship that allows us to do these things. Sponsorship includes shelter, clothing, food, school fees, healthcare, as well as making connections with the child’s extended families, supporting social activities, games, psychosocial and mental health support … whatever is needed to raise the child. Whatever the child needs to live and thrive, Cabrini tries to give.

Tanele is also a double orphan. She calls Menzi her brother (the little boy from the previous blog post from Von), because they have the same last name, and in Swaziland everyone with the same last name is your brother or sister, but they are not related in the way Americans think of themselves as related. For us it is a great sign that she’s found a bit of a family at Cabrini.

Tanele is the youngest of 6 children. About three years ago, her twenty-year-old sister died, then months later, her mother died. Her father was a Mozambiquan refugee from the war in Mozambique and had abandoned the homestead. The head-of-household became a 22 year-old sister, who had three children of her own. This sister’s husband died, and she was likely HIV positive. So when Tanele’s mother died, we brought her, her second youngest sister and two brothers in the hostel, because there was too much stress and burden for the eldest sister to deal with. The only money the sister had was from cutting sugarcane, which is seasonal, very difficult, dehumanizing work.

Tanele has a lot of energy, she dances and sings, she’s a beautiful little girl, and she’s very smart. At Cabrini she is able to get academic stimulation. We run an afterschool program that she is part of. She’s not even in preschool yet, but we have staff that engage in structured educational activities with these kids, such as teaching them their letters, etc. When everyone on a homestead is sick and barely surviving to do anything, children get no early stimulation and their interactions are very limited. So here she is in an environment that stimulates curiosity and learning, and helps her in building relationships.

With children who have experienced such trauma of death and poverty, first you must provide security, safety and basic needs- food every day, shelter, healthcare, and love to help them out of the survival mode of scavenging and taking care of themselves. We feel that the best gift we can give is to allow a child to be a child. When they no longer have to lay awake and worry if they’re going to eat, if they have to fight… they can be kids.

Bonakele is a teenager, in her third year of secondary school, and has been a double orphan since 2003. She and her two young siblings came to live at the Cabrini hostel in January 2004. The third year of secondary school in Swaziland is like the last year of junior high in the US. We would really love to help her go to one of the better high schools because she’s very smart and tremendously responsible.

When she came to Cabrini in 2004, her younger sisters were aged two and three, and she was very attentive, like a mother, at a very young age. She’s an incredibly nice young lady who deserves an opportunity. Good schools are very expensive here because there’s a boarding fee. In addition, most teenagers need guidance to help them find a good school, apply, and work out the details of attending. We act like a capable parent in that role, helping the child to achieve things that their socio-cultural class ordinarily wouldn’t let them access.

Bonakele has real potential to go to University and help her family rise out of the trenches of poverty, if she goes to a good high school and is prepared well for her exams. At these schools for example they speak English all the time, so that helps them pass the English part of the exam, one of the most difficult for students to pass.

Part of sponsorship, in addition to the medical care, food, clothing, etc., is monitoring children’s progress in school, and, particularly for teenagers, seeking out opportunities to capitalize on their potential on a very individual basis. Bonakele is one of the children we hope to support to get into a good high school, because she has the capacity and potential to take advantage of it. Let us not forget that so many of these children are severely traumatized. Bonakele lost both of her parents at 12 years old, within months of each other. To show any type of achievement in school with both parents tragically dying is a struggle. But she is a standout. She’s worked very hard at her studies and benefited from the afterschool program as well. We hope with sponsorship to support her and guide her towards opportunity and new life.

Here is the link to sponsor a child- please sign up today!:

Blessings and love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Visitor Von Shade-Zeldow Shares Her Experience at Cabrini Ministries Swaziland

Hi Everyone,
We wanted to share with you a piece written by Von Shade-Zeldow, from our Chicago-area Cabrini community, who just returned to the US after spending six weeks with us here in Swaziland, sharing her skills as a clinical psychologist to help children and staff. We deeply thank you Von for your visit and your great work here.

Von writes:

“I have just completed an amazing and powerful journey to Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland. Sisters Barbara and Diane were my supportive guides and directors of my experience as I dove into the world of orphaned and vulnerable children, hostel workers responsible for their care, and a healthcare team who protect and nurture hundreds of families in the lowveldt.

“As a clinical psychologist volunteering my skills and time (and supported generously by my employers in Chicago, Illinois- CINN Foundation and CINN Medical Group), I arrived in St. Philip’s with an open heart and great enthusiasm. I left six weeks later enriched by relationships with adults and children who helped me more fully appreciate the gifts in my life and the power of the human spirit to struggle for survival, health and a most rudimentary existence. My contributions were small (but hopefully sustainable) during such a short stay, but I relish the idea of returning to take up where I left off, in building a world just a bit better than before.

“On days when the “bigger picture” loomed (What will become of this country? Can people continue to rally in a landscape so desolate? Will deaths from AIDS and TB ever slow?), I reminded myself of the incredible efforts right before my eyes: 155 children who sleep safely and comfortably in beds each night and who have nourishment to face the next day, education and homeland documents provided to ensure each child is documented as a full Swazi citizen and landowner, hundreds of families served in the bush with healthcare, support, food and medication to survive the threats of illness and death, and a staff of 45 employed from the local area to help build this environment of caring and concern. In just a meager five years, Sisters Barbara and Diane have confronted the ills and consequences of a twenty-year drought and the ravaging effects of HIV/AIDS, while always remaining respectful of Swazi traditions and their importance to those they serve.

“During my stay at the mission, I worked with staff on two fronts. My time with the hostel workers who oversee the childrens’ lives each day was focused on teaching new skills, with the goal of creating for them a greater understanding of child development and the meaning and expression of loss in this vulnerable population. Staff are dedicated but have had significant ongoing challenges in their own lives prior to coming to work at Cabrini. Hence, they often have minimal skills and experiences to draw on in handling childrens’ misbehavior, sadness and need for comfort and praise. Our language barrier at times created humorous situations we will all remember. Swazi culture as a whole does not encourage open expression of positive feelings, but we worked hard to share together enough for all to see that there is always more to give should one choose to do so.

“Secondly, I was involved with the healthcare team whose responsibilities bring them to constantly confront chronic illness and death in Swazis of all ages. They are a compassionate and dedicated group of professionals who rarely if ever acknowledge the intense stress inherent in their work each day. Encouraging them to feel it was okay to share their emotions and fears, helping them to see that each and every one of them felt very similarly about their work and their patients, and giving them an outlet to grieve together and separately was a challenging task. Most importantly, these efforts will hopefully continue with the assistance of a state facilitator now available to programs providing healthcare. While everyone knew ‘stress’ as a concept when I arrived, staff as a group were unable to imagine they could have an impact in reducing the effects of stress in their lives. It was humbling to be a part of the process to empower them individually to care for themselves as well as families in the lowveldt.

“Quite by accident I fell in love with a three-year-old little boy named Menzi who was literally rescued one year ago from a homestead where he was found malnourished, developmentally delayed and near death. Today he is engaging, happy and playful. Nonetheless, when I met him, he was echolalic, repeating whatever phrases or words said to him in siSwati or English. Daily Menzi and I took walks where we spoke only English and improved his vocabulary one word at a time. I struggled to find ways to make words into responsive conversation, assuming I was getting nowhere (and having no professionals to guide by instincts). Several days before I left Swaziland, I said ‘How are you?’ to Menzi (to which he had always echoed ‘how are you?’). He looked at me and said ‘I’m fine’! I literally threw him up into the air – scaring both of us, I’m sure – and we fell into laughter the power of which cannot possibly be re-created. Each day afterward, we continued to make progress slowly. I dream that he has made progress in leaps and bounds and will someday have lots of conversations with me again. I miss him immensely.

“As a part of my experience in working with the women who are the daily caregivers for the children, I sat in on the yearly case conferences, meetings conducted to provide feedback to guardians from the homesteads and to update mission staff with any new circumstances which might affect the children in their care. As the conferences were conducted in siSwati, the staff would provide me with written summaries in English from the prior year’s meetings. Family members (often only distantly-related to the children if related at all) would arrive from many kilometers away to participate in this experience. At first, the histories struck me as so tragic as to be unlikely to have actually happened. Then it became painfully obvious that there was not one history to be told which was not marked by early loss, hunger and sadness. Early trauma and abuse were common threads of experience and not unusual events as I had once thought. It stirs my heart to know these children have found a safe haven. The dedication, caring and determination of Sisters Barbara and Diane and all their staff who join together to provide a better world for these beautiful lives in the bush of Swaziland are an inspiration to all who are touched by them.”

Blessings & love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission: Women Need Our Support

Yesterday, the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition released a report about prevention of vertical transmission, or prevention of transmission of the HIV virus from an HIV-positive mother to her child (available at

Transmission of the HIV virus from mother to baby can occur during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding. However, there is a triple-dose combination medicine available in places such as the US and Europe that prevents close to 100% of all transmissions if the mother takes it correctly. Most women in the developed world have access to the medicine and to health care services, so vertical transmission has been virtually eliminated there- one of AIDS’ few success stories.

Yet in the developing world (such as Swaziland), the story is very different: only a third of women in the developing world are given any drug to prevent vertical transmission at all. The highly effective drug is only available to about 8% of these women; a different less expensive single-dose medicine is given that is only about 40% effective. Stephen Lewis (former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa) and Paula Donovan, co-directors of AIDS-Free World ( and writers of the preface to the report, call this “a shameful example of double standards.” And, these numbers are far from the ‘universal access’ goals that UNAIDS, the G8 countries, and other agencies were trying to achieve by 2010.

The report presented on-the-ground research from six countries about the barriers women face in accessing these health services, and criticized global and national programs for failing to ensure newborns and their mothers receive appropriate treatment and care. It illustrated that the emphasis is put on keeping babies alive and not following up with women, who must be put at the center on this issue.

In our experience, we agree, the response on this issue has been a failure, and the barriers that were identified in the countries in this report ring very true in this community. There are programs available that would work to prevent HIV in the child if the mother went to the clinic regularly and followed the instructions for treatment. It is not necessarily so simple for women to do that, and we agree it is critical to identify and respond to the sociological reasons why.

Many people say the prevention of vertical transmission program here has been a success, but their measure of success is if a pregnant HIV+ woman is given the prophylactic medicine when her child is born. This may mean the mother went without treatment for her own HIV, the baby and mother went without prenatal or follow-up care, no care was provided for the rest of the family, and no information about HIV prevention or reproductive health was provided to this woman. Also, this woman may have been handed the prophylactic medicine to take during delivery, but no one knows if she even took it or not (and in many cases she does not) because there is no follow-up with the mother. And women are delivering their babies on the homestead (meaning often in a mud hut, with no running water, electricity, supplies or health care workers), because they can’t afford the hospital transport fees. Sometimes, mothers and their babies suffer and die this way, and it is tragic, for many reasons but one because it is preventable.

If a woman manages to obtain the medicine, she may not take it because she may be trying to hide her HIV+ status from a mother-in-law or husband (often authorities on the homestead) who can decide to throw her out of their home if they find out. Also violence against women is pervasive and constant, and as the report shows, is a real barrier to HIV+ women accessing health services.

We have realized that a community-based comprehensive care approach, which truly takes in consideration the socio-cultural reality of the person you are serving, is necessary for any health program to work, especially prevention of vertical transmission as a part of women’s health. Women need special attention paid to them and their socio-cultural situation, which in Swaziland, can mean a deep gender inequality that does affect their access to health. Also follow-up is key here- with a pregnant HIV+ woman, a multi-drug resistant TB patient, or anyone that needs health care. You can’t tell people one time in a clinic- here, this is what you have to do for a year and a half- and expect compliance with that. You must have a relationship with people that is sustained over time.

We are doing what in social work we call ‘case management.’ We work with St. Philip’s Clinic here to identify mothers in need of prenatal care. Then we start providing home health care, going to their homesteads and working with their whole family. We do extensive education, and we closely follow the mother and child until the child is 18 months old, continually reinforcing the prevention and care steps the mother and family must take (prenatal care, basic HIV understanding and testing and counseling, arranging supervised delivery, follow-up care with the baby and mother including on infant feeding practices). We provide transport to the hospital and clinics, and supplemental nutrition for mothers and babies. You must sustain a relationship based on what people need. And if that relationship is broken in any way, you have to have the will and dedication to go out to the people and figure out what they need.

HIV+ pregnant women and their babies need this kind of personal attention, ongoing support and true “care”- health care that is more compassionate to their often silenced and neglected needs.

Thanks to FLAS (The Family Life Association of Swaziland) for the gifts of infant clothes which some of these photos show some of our mother and child patients receiving.

Blessings and love,
Srs. Diane and Barbara

Lent Message- 2009

Dear Sisters, Brothers, Friends, Benefactors, and Colleagues,

Our warm greetings from Swaziland.

As Christians throughout the world celebrate this time of Lent we at Cabrini Ministries would like to share a few thoughts with you. Let us start with these words of St. Paul from Scripture:

Though he was in the form of God
Christ did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, He emptied Himself,
Taking the form of a servant. (Phil.2: 6-7)

In these words we see Jesus’ understanding of what was asked of Him in bringing His Father’s message of love into the world…that He would serve others with every gift of nature and grace given to Him in becoming human. Before He died Jesus acted out his servanthood in a way unforgettable and startling to His disciples by washing their feet.

In Lent we enter a particular time of renewing and deepening our relationship with God through Jesus by spending time reading, praying, and contemplating His life and actions with the desire to become more like Him so we can continue His work of servanthood in today’s world. If we desire to become more like Him, we too must become more and more emptied of ourselves so we might serve others.

As we celebrate Lent we would like to share with you a wonderful blessing and inpouring of the Holy Spirit which helped us to act out symbolically this servanthood and grow in desire to live it more fully as an organization.

Youth with a Mission, a Christian evangelical organization working in Swaziland and led by Jim and Lisa Nave, had received a large number of new Nike sneakers. The organization which gave it asked only that a ceremony of foot washing be done before the sneakers be given. Jim and Lisa along with Petros and Elizabeth Kunene, Mathew and Nini came to the Mission and asked Sr. Barbara and I if they could wash our feet and pray over us. We were very touched by the experience. And then at the end we were surprised to receive new Nikes. In reflecting on the experience we desired very much to do the same for our entire staff of about 43 local people. Youth with a Mission agreed and we set the date for our February staff meeting.

When the day arrived we all praised God in song and then Petros Kunene spoke to the staff (in siSwati) about the good work the staff do daily as servants of the community who are sick, orphaned, without sufficient food and often voiceless. The scripture passage from St. John was read and Sr. Barbara and I went around the room washing the feet of all the staff while Jim, Lisa, Petros, Elizabeth, Mathew and Nini prayed over each and every staff member. We asked God to make us true servants like His Son, Jesus. We ended by coming together in a circle of about 50 of us to sing and pray over Youth with a Mission who had brought us such blessing.

When the shoes were brought in (with the correct size for each staff member!) everyone was surprised and happy, but clearly the inpouring of the Holy Spirit which was given to all of us made the shoes secondary in the experience. Many of the staff are very poor people themselves, like the people they serve each day and yet it was clear that all knew the true gift which had been given was a renewal of our commitment to be Jesus as we serve Jesus among His more vulnerable children.

May you also in God’s great love know Him again and more closely in this time of contemplating more closely His life as a servant of all, His suffering, death and resurrection.

With grateful hearts,
Srs. Diane and Barbara

Visitors and Volunteers: Brian Gaisford’s Hemingway Safari Group 2009

Recently we enjoyed a visit by a group of people on safari. Swaziland has some of the best game parks in the world, and our friend Brian Gaisford leads safari groups as part of his Hemingway Gallery and Photographic Safaris outfit, based in New York (

As many of you know, shipping anything to and from Swaziland is costly and unreliable to say the least. Many people want to donate much-needed items but unfortunately we can’t usually take them because there is no good way to get the packages. The best way for us to bring items to and from Swaziland is actually carrying them with our luggage. Enter Brian and his safari group- and their extra duffel bags.

Brian was able to send us $7000 and Brian and friends were able to gather many donated items- shoes, clothing, etc- in New York. His safari group this year consisted of 12 people, including John and Barbara Costantino, who won a safari for two at the Cabrini Mission Foundation Gala fundraising auction in 2007.

So how to get this stuff to our remote location in Swaziland? Each person actually carried on two extra duffel bags full of supplies for their flight to Johannesburg, then they drove to Swaziland, visiting St. Philip’s Mission, with a trailer of supplies.

Here is the safari group with us and all the stuff hand-carried by them.

We hosted everyone for a small lunch.

Some of the children put on a show (of course!) with some wonderful traditional song and dance.

More of the show…

These girls are very good singers.

Brian was presented with a basket that was handmade by one of the children’s mothers. He writes: “There was a note to me with the basket and when I showed it to my group, it brought all to tears. Thanks so much for that and the basket now hangs with the note in my house.”

We are very grateful to Brian and the safari group for visiting and bringing the supplies. The supplies mean so much to us and the children who often have only one set of clothes and shoes. We especially recognize the extra effort made by Brian and the group in adding this visit on to their safari vacation. It’s amazing what can happen when people choose to participate by volunteering and find creative ways to help. THANK YOU!

Blessings and love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Restoring Life: Staff Stories

One of our goals at Cabrini Ministries is restoring life. We use this phrase often, because it captures both the literal and figurative meaning of the renewal and growth of livelihoods that we aim for.

Two of our staff members’ stories illustrate the cycle of “restoring life.”

This is Phindele. When we first met Phindi, she was so emaciated and weak from HIV and TB that Sister Diane had to pick her up and carry her to the vehicle to receive care, even though Phindi was a young adult. She could not even receive HIV treatment at first, because her liver had shut-down. Phindele’s story was typical: she had left her rural homestead for work in an industrial part of Swaziland. She contracted HIV there, became ill, and returned to her homestead, as is usually the case, to die.

TB with HIV is killing so many of our people. These are photos of our patients from a recent slide show we did for the World Health Organization about the TB/HIV situation in Swaziland. Phindele looked like this once. Everyone thought she would die.

She was one of Cabrini Ministries’ first ARV patients, and she was treated for TB and HIV. She was lucky in that this was the time when ARV medications for HIV were first being distributed around the country in 2004. She has managed to gain back her health, and now lives a productive, normal life. She is able to raise her children, who would have been orphaned, and she can help her extended family.

Phindele is one of the many people we see that get a new lease on life thanks to medicine and care. Now, she works in our healthcare department, doing monitoring and evaluation, and she is a community educator, training other people in her community about prevention of HIV. Restoring life with treatment and care has been our focus, but we, with the rest of the country, must also support critical prevention activities, such as Phindele’s community education.

Tfobhi (pronounced “Tobi”) came to Cabrini when she was pregnant with twins and needed healthcare services. She got to know us as a patient, and began working with children in the hostel in 2006. She led the Weekend and Evening department, which managed such activities as study halls and tutoring, traditional games, crafts, sports, song and dance, and teaching life skills. She has shown great leadership abilities and now supervises all of the hostel staff.

She writes: “I have learned a lot. When I came here, I didn’t know that I had so many potential skills, or that I could do so many things. Through working, I can say that I can try- I don’t know if I’ll be able to do everything, but I will try. I’ve gained a lot. I learned a lot about children. I knew children, but I’ve learned that you can’t approach different children in the same way. Also, I was very, very shy in talking to people, but now I try to correct and teach people; now I talk, present and demonstrate.”

Tfobhi’s growing skills and confidence as a leader are particularly significant in the context of female status in this country. Before a new constitution was adopted in 2006 which granted some rights, Swazi women had the legal status of minors, and were unable to own property or open a bank account without the permission of a male relative or husband. Still, women in our community often won’t raise their eyes or speak up. Both Tfobhi and Phindele demonstrate great courage as managers and community educators, and are role models for our young girls.

These are photos of Tfobhi during the last Christmas event at the hostel.

There is a cycle and continuum that restoring life involves. Both Phindele and Tfobhi were once healthcare patients, as were or are many of the employees at Cabrini Ministries, and they are individuals who have so much to offer their communities. Healthy people can build healthy communities. We are grateful to all who help to restore the life to this community.

Blessings and love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane