Tough Month

May was a difficult period for the Cabrini Ministries’ family as we have been dealing with several tragic deaths: the loss of two children and the loss of an employee.

A couple weeks ago, a family that is deeply connected with the organization lost their two small children when they drowned in the canal by their homestead where they were playing.  Even in a nation that is unfortunately accustomed to death, this tragedy brought with it the deepest sense of grief and sorrow.  It is pain upon pain when unforeseen death comes to those so full of life.

The mother, Nakiwe, was one of our brightest employees before she took a new job to be closer to her husband in Manzini.  The father, Felix, is a police officer, but has worked with Cabrini in the education since he was a youth himself; he was apart of life on the mission even before the current sisters were.  The grandfather was one of the major leaders in the church and in his chiefdom.  Probably a quarter of our staff live within a couple kilometers of where the boys drowned.

Mabuza boys

[Nakiwe, Sisandza,Tandziso and Felix Mabuza at the Feast of St. Philips]

Then, while our community was still grieving the loss of the Mabuza boys, we received word that one of our staff members who had been battling illness for a few months had died.  Matthew was our night watchman and is the father of Mfundi, one of our drivers.  This made his passing doubly painful for the Cabrini Family.

Matthew was beloved by the staff.  Despite the fact that he was often soft-spoken, he would gladly share how blessed he felt through word and song ever change he got.  Anytime we had a staff meeting where people were asked to share, you could always count on Matthew using the opportunity to preach and pray and even even sing.

Sister Barbara was always fond of saying tongue in cheek: “The only security issues we have are with our security staff.”  And while that may or not be true, what is unquestioned is that Cabrini as a whole was better off for having him as part of the staff.

Themba Import (Cabrini Kids) 354 [Matthew enjoying the buffet at the Child Protection training.]

These deaths certainly put our work and our own lives in perspective.  We are often tempted to ask “Why?”  But, in times of loss, sometimes it better to not try and find an answer for now; instead, we need to rest in the knowledge that is timeless.  During our grieving, Sister Diane had this to say:

Times like these are a great mystery, and while we may never have an answer for the pain we feel, one thing never changes: God has eternal and perfect love for all people.

Even in difficult times like these, Cabrini Ministries is humbled to be working towards a larger vision of Restoring Life.

Feast of Mother Cabrini Video

As promised, here is a video of the celebration of the Feast of Mother Cabrini at St. Philips Mission in Swaziland.  All of the groups that performed were either clients or staff of Cabrini Ministries.

As you can see, everyone had a great time and was excited to celebrate the lasting impact of Mother Cabrini.  Her legacy lives through those inspired by her faith lived out in bold service.

School Break Time at Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland

It’s quiet here at St. Philip’s Mission as all the children are presently on their homesteads for the school break time. They were in school until the last week of August. The school-year here is a year long, and the children have 3 breaks in the year: two three-week breaks and one six-week break.

We are very concerned about maintaining a connection between the children and their homesteads and remaining family members, and homestead visits reinforce those connections. We work with heads of households within local chiefdoms, gaining social acceptance for the Ministries as a “co-parent,” caring for children with the permission of each orphan’s extended family. Also, in order for a male child to keep his legal rights as a member of a tribal group, he needs to return to his homeland and extended family several times a year, and we help arrange those visits.

These girls are looking at their report cards.

When the kids go home, they take their clothes, they usually take food parcels (assessed on a family by family need, but probably 3/4s of our families need food, especially in the face of the current drought), if they need to take bedding, or medications, they do, but whatever they need we try to help them so that they are not a burden on their caretakers, and it reduces their risk of vulnerability. We help them pack up and drive them home. Once a week or so during breaks they come back to the Mission and check in and get supplementary food to take home to their families.

The staff also visits some of the children’s homesteads to check in – sometimes five or six times to each homestead of the most vulnerable who live in shebeens (huts that brew and serve beer), or without adults, or who are in need of food.

While the children are away, the staff sometimes use the time to clean or make repairs around the hostel. The hostel staff all took one week off when the children left in late August. Our staff often work long 14 hour days, as there is always work to do, so they really deserve some time off! This week two staff teams will again begin home visits of the most vulnerable children.

When the children return, all are given an examination to make sure they have returned healthy and safe. Thanks to the Vitamin Angels organization (, we have a year’s supply of deworming medication, which we give to the children when they return from school breaks.

Blessings & thanks,
Srs. Barbara & Diane

One Glass of Cool Clean Water

There is a little story that we like to share with people sometimes that makes us feel grateful and humbled.

We were out on a home-based healthcare visit at the homestead of one of our hostel children’s grandmothers, who was very sick and about to die. We gave her a bit of medicine, and Sr. Diane happened to have a water bottle on her, so she gave some water from the bottle to the grandmother to wash it down.

All of the sudden, the grandmother had a huge smile on her face, and started to laugh and roll around in joy. She was exclaiming things in Siswati (the official language of Swaziland), and caused such a scene that we had to ask our staff to please translate what she was saying…!

They told us that she was exclaiming that that drink of water was the best thing she had ever tasted in her whole life- just the most wonderful thing. Because she had probably always had to drink river water, which was muddy, with sticks, sand and dirt, and always warm. So to have a clean glass of cold water was simply extraordinary.

She died shortly after that. We’ll miss her, and we’ll never forget her joy in experiencing one simple, good thing.

Sr. Barbara and Sr. Diane

The Morning Fire

In the morning, the boys make themselves a fire, and have “homestead life.”

All the boys sit around the fire and talk and hang out a bit together. They get up at 5:00 in the morning to do this on their own; they don’t have to get up that early, but they do, to make little fires and talk with each other as the sun slowly rises. It’s a nice tradition for the boys.