Christmas at Cabrini!

Seasons Greetings!

We have been having a great time here in Swaziland celebrating Christmas with the lowveld community. On December 12th, members of the Teen Club, along with their caregivers and guardians, came together to enjoy their annual Christmas party. For those who don’t know, Teen Club Swaziland is part of an international family of support groups, spearheaded by Baylor International Pediatric Aids Initiative.  The clubs are made up of young members of the community who are living with HIV. Rising to the challenge of addressing the psychosocial and medical needs of HIV positive adolescents, the club meets once a month to offer support, to learn valuable lessons given by qualified medical professionals, and to nurture a sense of camaraderie amongst their members. It is also a great way to make sure the teens and their guardians are receiving all the help and guidance they need from Cabrini Ministries. To learn more about this exciting international program, visit BPAI’s website!

We also want to send out a big thank you to RUCHI Wholesalers for donating mielie meal, beans, and sugar for the families to take home and enjoy. Thank you, RUCHI!

Enjoy pictures from our fabulous Teen Club Christmas Party!

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What a treat! A few of the guardians perform a drama about the importance of being tested and adherence to medication. We were blown away by their talent!

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An angel appears! One of our talented Teen Club members performs the role of the angel for the nativity play.

 

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The girls perform traditional Swazi dances for an audience of their peers and caregivers.

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Simo Mamba does a great job as the Christmas Party MC!

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Thobile Matsubula, head facilitator of the Teen Club at Cabrini, opens the ceremonies with a word of thanks to the staff, the club members, and the guardians.

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More dancing by our fabulous Teen Club Stars!

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A word of prayer lead by one of the Teen Club guardians.

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Make way for the boys performing traditional Swazi dances!

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And of course, we must give the makes (mothers) and Go Gos (grandmothers) a chance to show off their dancing skills!

 

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Teen Club members and their guardians all together to celebrate Christmas!

Fantastic Feast Day!

On the 13th of November, we here at Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland, celebrate our namesake and the foundress of the ministries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. This year our celebration was made even more joyous by the addition of a much needed bout of rainfall! As the entire staff of Cabrini Ministries Swaziland gathered together to honor the life of Mother Cabrini, we reflected on the life of an amazing woman, without whom our work would not be possible.

Frances Cabrini was a remarkable woman who practiced great determination and perseverance in order to live her life spreading God’s love to those most in need. We are grateful to her and all she did in her life to make the world a better place. Siyabonga, Make Cabrini!

As it does every year, we start our Feast Day with a procession to the church carrying the statue of Mother Cabrini…

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We then attended a beautiful mass lead by Fr. Gaston, who was assisted by a few of our hostel children performing their duties as altar servers.

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Some of our hostel girls approaching the altar with offerings for Mother Cabrini.

After the moving mass, the entire staff gathered at the dining hall for some entertainment, speeches, and, of course, a feast!

Our Deputy Executive Director, Ben Kickert, kicked the program off to a great start, bringing up all the new employees that have joined us this year at Cabrini Ministries of Swaziland.

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“Welcome to the family!”

He then continued the recognition party by presenting staff members who have been with us for 5 and 10 years with a special gift and thank you from Cabrini Ministries.

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And of course it would not be called a Cabrini party if we did not get to hear a few songs sung by our glorious choir!

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To send the entertainment portion of the celebration out with a bang, Grade 5 and Grade 6 performed a fantastic retelling of Saint Frances Cabrini’s inspiring life, appropriately titled Mother Cabrini and the Cabrini Way. 

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Here we see Bongiswa Nxumalo perform the role of the priest in the baptism scene of the play.

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When Frances was a young girl, she admired her sister, Rosa, very much and was always copying everything she did!

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Here we see Celemphilo Maziya and Ncobile Gumedze with their prop boats and flowers as they perform the scene where Frances explains to her sister that she is imagining that the little boats are filled with missionaries that she is sending off down the river.

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Here we see Mother Cabrini’s first voyage to New York City!

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“Siyabonga, Mother Cabrini” the children sing for the finale of “Mother Cabrini and the Cabrini Way”

And then…we feasted on a wonderful meal prepared by our very own Cabrini staff.
The Cabrini Staff ate, laughed, and cheered on the rain as it fell down onto our thirsty land.

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Grades 5 and 6.

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Simo Mamba in traditional party attire.

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As always, we are grateful, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, for all that you did for this world. We strive to live on in your spirit of peace and goodwill!

-The Cabrini Staff

 

 

Inspiration: Stopping TB and Healing the World


A month or so ago we had a visitor who has a long history with Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland. His name is Dr. Mario Raviglione, and he is currently the Director of the Stop TB program for the World Health Organization, stationed in Geneva. He’s Italian, and about 20 years ago, he was in the US doing his residency in infectious diseases at Cabrini Medical Center in New York. During that time, he came for three weeks to work in the clinic here at St. Philip’s Mission in Swaziland with our sisters. One of the sisters, who I believe was Sr. Raphael, said to Mario- “Now don’t go back to Italy and be a doctor and get rich, but do something good for other people with your medicine.” He shared with us that Sr. Raphael was one of his inspirations to go into public health service.

About 6 months ago, he decided that he wanted to return to Swaziland to come back and see it, and wanted to bring his family with him, because he now has children that are between 15 and 22. So he got in touch with our superior in Italy and asked if Sr. Raphael was still there at St. Philip’s. She said, “No, I’m sorry to tell you that she has died, but you can still go there and visit.” So he came to see us, and we took him out to see patients, such as one woman who we care for who needs daily injections of antibiotics to treat her TB, and he was very interested to see our responses to the challenges of increasing TB incidence in our area.

[World TB incidence. Cases per 100,000; Red = >300, orange = 200-300; yellow = 100-200; green 50-100 and grey <50. Data from World Health Organization, 2006. (Source: Wikipedia, "Tuberculosis," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuberculosis)] In particular, there is a growing problem here with drug-resistant TB. There are something like eight different classes of antibiotics for TB, so you start out with the lowest class. If the patient doesn’t respond, then you move up a level. Once you’re onto the 3rd or 4th levels, that is what is called “multi-drug resistant TB” (MDR-TB). There are some cases that aren’t responding to any level of drugs at all- called “extreme drug-resistant TB” (XDR-TB). Diseases become able to combat medicines when there are mutations of the original disease, or if there are problems with compliance (taking the drug regularly as directed and with no interruptions). The same thing is happening with the HIV virus, and most people in our area with TB have HIV and vice versa. You can imagine how drug compliance problems are rampant in places like Swaziland that are battling with extreme poverty, lack of food and water, and multiple, complicated diseases requiring complicated treatments. So this is how you get your first-line medications, your second-line meds, etc… (these are terms used to describe HIV drugs). Only TB right now is up to 8 lines of treatment. And unfortunately, as you go up the levels, the drugs are more expensive and harder to obtain.
(photo: Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

[Read more about TB in Swaziland in another post on the blog: “The Tuberculosis Epidemic- Impacts the People & Places Struggling with HIV”]

It was good to have Dr. Mario and Dr. Rudolfo Russo here with their families. They have been great supporters of our work and are helping us draw up new ways to improve our TB screening and treatment procedures. And I think it’s great how he was sort of able to come full circle with the Cabrini sisters in Swaziland.

I feel that right now, TB is a much more immediate threat to the health of all of us than HIV is (though of course they go hand in hand), because of the way it’s spread- if you’re talking with someone within two feet of them, saliva molecules can be passed- and because it’s becoming so drug-resistant. Dr. Samson Haumba, the HIV-TB coordinator in Swaziland, and Elijah Dlamini, a long-time TB nurse from Good Shepherd Hospital, have both given our staff presentations on protecting ourselves while dealing with TB. We are scrambling to meet all the challenges and are in great need of protective measures like masks. There are no isolation rooms anywhere in the country and the hospitals are overwhelmed, so this woman who we care for, who is lying under a tree and can’t even sit up to feed herself, cannot be in a hospital because she will infect other people. Homestead visits like what we are doing with our home-based care program are the best solution, but it is still a lot to ask of community health providers to manage multiple, complicated diseases like HIV and TB.


Still, we do manage to care for at least 10 new patients each month, and we are able to provide complete care for those people thanks to our worldwide support. The heartache of such sickness can be soothed, and to see our patients get a second life thanks to receiving the healthcare they need renews my spirit and I hope the spirit of the world.

Blessings and love to all,
Sr. Barbara