Just a reminder, if you are in the New York City area- next Wednesday evening:
And thanks to Nick Kristof for his mention of the Cabrini Sisters in his op-ed piece on Sunday in the New York Times (yes, that’s Sr. Barbara with the “lead foot”!):
A Church Mary Can Love
Finally a Cabrini Swaziland staff member wrote a wonderful article that was published in the Swazi Observer:
CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE OF THE NATION…..STAY HEALTHY
BY A CABRINI MINISTRIES STAFF MEMBER
How does a child grow into a person who becomes a good mother or father?
How does a child grow into a person who becomes a good citizen of the Nation?
How does a child grow into a person who respects himself and others?
How does a child grow into a person who knows that he comes from God and goes back to God ; a person who prays and struggles to do good?
It may seem like a simple answer but the beginning of becoming a mature adult who contributes to the common good of the Nation and the good of his or her family… is to have parents who direct and discipline a child’s life with love and concern.
In our Nation today only 21% of the children have both parents and all the rest are either double or single orphans. Even the single orphan is often abandoned by the remaining parent when one dies.
What does this mean for the future of family life in Swaziland? What does this mean for the future of the Nation?
It is truly a tragedy for the children of the Nation today and a disaster for the future of the Nation tomorrow. So many of the children of Swaziland are growing up disconnected….with no sense of belonging to someone who loves, respects and disciplines them…who teaches them the way to think, choose, behave in the normal situations of every day life.
Orphans, many thousands of them, are struggling to raise themselves with no sense of belonging to a family, a group, a Nation. They are learning that adults often take advantage of them, encroach on their homesteads, abuse them physically and sexually, or just don’t have time for them because the adults themselves are overburdened with mouths to feed.
Already the Nation has, by some estimates, more than 200,000 orphans…how lonely, disconnected and angry will these children be as they try to grow into an adult world with no skills of family and relationship….they will easily follow the example of those who have taken advantage of them and abused them in various ways. Are we moving toward a Nation of thugs? A nation of young adults without compassion and connection? A Nation of young adults with little sense of right relationship? Faithful relationship? There appear to be few answers for the children growing up without parents in these last 15 years..often alone or with overburdened guardians.
Are there answers for the children being born right now? A large percentage of the families and women having babies are HIV+…does that mean the tragedy and disaster of disconnected children must go on and on? In the area of the Lubombo lowveld where Cabrini Ministries works the HIV+ rate over the past three years has remained between 45 and 60% of those tested.
Is there an answer? Yes, I believe there is the beginning of an answer – PARENTS, MOTHERS AND FATHERS MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR LIVES AND STAY ALIVE! What does this mean?
1. It means testing early and often even if you do not feel sick
2. It means getting to the clinic before you are too sick to walk
3. It means adults have to stop pretending that there is nothing wrong even when they keep getting sick
4. It means if you find you are HIV+ you decide that you will get the help you need, eat as well as possible, go on anti-retroviral treatment when it is necessary and live for another 15 or 20 or 30 years so that you may stay with your children, love them, teach them, discipline them and help them to grow into a good and loving adult like yourself.
Your health as an adult and a parent is not just a personal thing….IT IS NOT TRUE THAT ”MY LIFE BELONGS TO ME AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT.“ Our lives belong to God, to our family and to the Nation. As a parent it is a responsibility that comes with parenthood to care for yourself, stay healthy, even if you are HIV+ or with AIDS, because your life is for your children…for their future.
There are programs and projects to help orphan children in Swaziland all struggling to do the best they can to help some of the thousands of orphaned children; there are school teachers with great compassionate hearts trying to help as many as they can of the many, many orphaned children they teach each day. These are good efforts and God who loves children in a very special way blesses these efforts. BUT NOTHING TAKES THE PLACE OF A PARENT WITH ENOUGH LOVE TO STAY ALIVE FOR THE SAKE OF HIS OR HER CHILDREN, NOTHING.
Blessings and love,
Srs. Barbara and Diane