In 2011, author Glenn Cheney spent a couple months in the lowveld of Swaziland to document what life is really like at Cabrini Ministries. His account has recently been published as an eBook entitled Love and Death in the Kingdom of Swaziland. This book started as a story about nuns and religious sisters living and working in difficult situations. As such, it follows the experiences of Sr. Diane DalleMolle and Sr. Barbara Staley and their intense work over the past eight years. But, it is not only a story about how the sisters have responded to the AIDS epidemic and the orphan crisis that followed; it is also the story of what day-to-day life is like for the clients and staff at Cabrini Ministries as they make their home in the rough environment of the Swaziland bush.
Since this is currently only published as an eBook, it can only be read electronically. If you don’t have a Kindle, Nook, iPad or similar device, you can still read it on your computer using a Kindle App.
This book is a great way to get the inside story of what goes on around St. Philips Mission and to “meet” the people who really make Cabrini Ministries function.
We are thankful for the hard work Glenn put into telling our story and think you will enjoy the book.
In Swaziland, you find things either change very quickly or not at all. We have seen huge advances in treatment for HIV/AIDS in the past couple years, but other things like infrastructure (electricity and roads) seems to be going back in town.
Technology is one area that seems to move forward either quickly or not at all. Lately we have seen some incredible advances that have allowed us to work at a new level of efficiency. The cellular networks were recently upgraded to allow for fast (but expensive) access on a new 3G network. We can now skype and have reliable access to essential tools like email. We have also installed a new internal wireless network on the mission that allows staff members to communicate back and forth and share documents — a luxury unimaginable just 6 months ago.
These new capabilities have also allowed us to form new connections with the outside world. As you can probably tell if you are reading this post online, we have upgraded our web presence to include a revamped website while still maintaining all of the previous posts from the older blog. We have also set up a twitter account and a facebook page. You can subscribe to updates via email or put the feed into an aggregator like google reader. All of these tools will allow us to better share the story of Cabrini Ministries and keep you up to date on what is happening in rural Swaziland. Isn’t technology amazing?
In moving forward, it is certainly important that we remember where we have come from and how we got here. A very special thanks needs to go out to Erika Baehr for the behind the scenes, yet essential role she played in getting the first website up and going and keeping it updated. Despite the fact Erika has yet to travel to Swaziland, she has been able to share the stories of the mission as one who is truly ingrained into the ongoing work. Everything we have now is built on the work she did several years ago. Thank you Erika!
We also want to thank our friends at Cabrini College who have provided technical and practical support to our work. They not only assisted with the transition, but have provided on the ground input in areas such as marketing, business development, and education. A special thanks goes out to the leadership of the college as well as the implementors who helped to make this possible.
The more things progress in the Lubombo lowveld of Swaziland, the more we are remind just how connected we are with our friends and supporters across the world. Thank you all for everything you do and have done. We look forward to continuing to share the story that happens in the bush, but is facilitated by people world-wide.
Happy Thanksgiving to our friends, family, and supporters out there! One of the greatest things about the holidays is gathering together with friends and family.
We in Swaziland feel grateful for having become friends with some United States personnel and other people working in Swaziland who are very supportive of our work.
One of these people is Scott Mooneyham, who is the Regional Security Officer for the United States Embassy in Swaziland. He is good friends with Thom Krauss, another great guy who has visited Swaziland (and is an Ironman- see his website www.empoweranother.org). Scott is involved with a project that aims to reuse the wood from the crates that large items are shipped to Swaziland in, to make furniture for schools and for other charitable purposes.
Above is a photo of Sicelo, one of our OVC kids, who is 19 years old, and currently in our “aftercare” program for kids who are older, but need help with learning job skills and finding a job before going out completely on their own. Sicelo has been doing work-study in our agriculture program, getting paid a stipend while learning maintenance and agricultural skills, for a year and a half. He lives on his homestead which is 3-4 miles away from our farm, but we’ve given him a bike, which makes the difference between a 10 minute bike-commute to work and a 1 1/2hr walk each way. He is planning to attend a trade school in Manzini in January 2008, and has shown a desire to learn carpentry. Scott has connected with Sicelo, and is looking into the possibility to get Sicelo a carpentry apprenticeship. It’s great that our network is growing in such a way.
We’re building some new staff housing on the Mission, and Eric Olson has been chipping in to assist with this project. His wife works for the Peace Corps in Swaziland, and he has a construction background. Eric has been coming out to oversee the building project, advising our head of maintenance, and generally offering great help.
Christine Stevens is the US Government’s HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator, otherwise known as the PEPFAR coordinator for Swaziland, stationed in Mbabane. With US resources, PEPFAR is able to help support Cabrini Ministries’ health care program. Christine is a great ally in our work to bring treatment to people with HIV/AIDS, and Cabrini Ministries has been chosen as a pilot site for an example of quality care at the community level.
Betsy Kummer is also in Swaziland with her husband who works for the Peace Corps. We have really enjoyed her friendship and truly appreciate her active involvement with our works. Betsy has made a beautiful video production of our works here that we will use in future presentations. The video features staff, volunteers, a ShelterBox distribution, and song & dance from the kids in the hostel (who always like to put on a show when they return from breaks). Click below on the arrow to view. (If you have a slower internet connection, you may not be able to view the video.)
Thanks to all friends and family for your love and support, and a deep Thanksgiving THANK YOU (SIYABONGA!) to all, Blessings and love, Sr. Barbara & Sr. Diane