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.

Update on Nick Kristof’s Kids

Hello everyone,
(Apologies for the delay in communications… email and phone service in the bush have been sparse lately.)
We would like to update you on a few things in the next few weeks.

First, we wanted to take a longer-term look at several children’s lives.

In May of 2006, New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof visited us in Swaziland to do a feature about AIDS. His work ended up in the form of a short New York Times video, available for Times Select subscribers at: The World Hasn’t Moved On. Click here to watch:

In the video, Kristof focuses on children orphaned by AIDS, and profiles three groups of children orphaned by AIDS in our community. It is interesting to look at each of these groups of children and see how they are faring since the video was shot over a year and half ago.

Nomzamo, a 12-year-old orphan, is struggling to take care of her two younger sisters at the time of the video. She must feed, clothe, and otherwise raise her sisters. At the time of the video, Nomzamo and her sisters lived in a mud and stick hut with a poor roof. They did have a living grandmother, but the grandmother worked on a farm several towns away and was gone all week only to visit with them on the weekends.

Nomzamo and her sisters are doing somewhat better now, by happy fault. For one, the grandmother retired, so though she is very old, she is an adult presence in the home. Cabrini Ministries visited the homestead and talked with the grandmother about boarding the children at the hostel, but the grandmother refused, because she said she needed Nomzamo to cook for her and to keep the house safe so no one would steal from her. They are having a difficult time affording and otherwise obtaining food. They did receive donations from the World Food Programme, but run out, so Cabrini checks in regularly and helps with corn-soya and mealie-meal. The land around them is very dry from the drought and they are unable to grow crops. (Read more about the food crisis or the drought here or here.)

One positive, unexpected turn of events was that their house was fully rebuilt by SWADE (Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise). SWADE is building a dam nearby and many residents, including Nomzamo’s household, were forced to relocate. Their amount of land was preserved, however, and a house was built with better structure and materials as a replacement. The family now lives in a very solid, concrete house, painted, with windows.

Cabrini Ministries also supports Nomzamo and her sisters with extra school expenses. The government covers school tuition for all registered orphans, but there are other expenses such as uniforms, shoes, supplies, etc. that are necessary but not covered. (Read more about school fees for orphans here.)Through a foundation grant and sponsorships from private donors, we are able to pay for about 100 children’s extra school expenses and ensure they are able to go to school.

Wandile and Temdoline, portrayed as brother and sister in the video, are not actually related but are two orphans that have stayed with each other. They lived with Wandile’s aunt at the time, who was shown very sick with AIDS, unable to provide food for the family and close to death.

Wandile’s aunt became a patient of Cabrini Ministries, and was put on anti-retroviral medication. She responded very well to the treatment and got some of her health back, but food was still difficult to secure. The homestead was run as a part-time shebeen, which is an illegal home-brewing drinking hut. Shebeens tend to leave children extra vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The aunt eventually abandoned the children and took the last of the food.

The children followed another child home from school one day hungry and having no place to go. The child’s mother, which was Wandile and Temdoline’s neighbor, though barely having enough to feed her own children, could not turn Wandile and Temdoline away. This kind of woman reminds us of our unity as a worldwide family and our duties as “neighbors” to each other. The children are currently living with this neighbor.

This is a common situation in Swaziland of a family being overstretched taking on extra members, with the orphaned children being at the end of the receiving line and last to get their needs met. Cabrini Ministries checks in with this homestead regularly and tries to provide help where needed.

Siphiso says in the video he thought about suicide after he had watched both parents die, but that he didn’t want to abandon his two younger brothers. We thank God for Siphiso today, because we have been happy to have had an opportunity to see him grow, and he and his brothers are doing much better under Cabrini’s care. Siphiso and his brothers were living on their own as a child-headed homestead.

We were able to have Siphiso and his brothers move into the Cabrini hostel in late 2006. Another important thing we helped Siphiso and his brothers with was figuring out his extended family relationships in the area, which were complicated, so now they are reintegrating into their family and staying with adult relatives over school breaks.

One amazing thing is how much Siphiso has grown! He is now taller than many of the adults around here. We think this is one of the visible consequences of good nutrition that we are beginning to see over time with many of the children in the hostel. Siphiso is 17 but as a result of his past, only in grade 6. Because he is so tall, he sometimes gets made fun of by the younger students. We will probably pull him out of the school system after his grade 7 exams and support him to go to trade school, which tends to make older students like him feel much more confident and successful.

The other brothers, Mcolisi and Sipho, are doing well, physically healthy and growing tall too.

Thanks to Nick Kristof for his original reportage, and thanks to all our supporters that help us improve the lives of such children over the long-term.

Love and blessings,
Srs. Barbara and Diane

Sr. Diane on CBS News

Hi Everyone,

We’re excited to share the following video news link with you: it features Sr. Diane and Thandiwe ministering to an HIV/AIDS patient in our community, as part of a CBS Evening News story about President Bush visiting Africa on behalf of PEPFAR (The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

Thanks to Sarah Carter and CBS News for visiting us and reporting on the issues here. The work continues today…

Blessings & love to all,

Srs. Barbara and Diane

Today is World AIDS Day- We Remember Thabsile

December 1 every year is designated as World AIDS Day, and around the world, people take a moment to remember those who were lost to the disease, and also join together and advocate for progress in the fight against AIDS. The theme this year is “Leadership.”

We’d like to take a moment to honor the life of Thabsile, a young woman who was one of our HIV/TB patients, who passed away recently.

Thabsile had a real desire to live. She fought for life every day. Her TB was so bad (one of the consequences of AIDS is high susceptibility to tuberculosis, and other “opportunistic infections”) that she had to have daily injections of antibiotics. Our staff also fought to keep her alive- our nurses, with great generosity and without any extra pay, worked on Saturdays and Sundays, to go every day to her home and give her treatment.

When we first met her, she was living under a tree. She had no running water, or electricity (needless to say). ShelterBox provided her with a tent, and the Red Cross and World Vision were in the process of helping to build her a cement block structure. Also the medicines were helping her to rebound a bit, and the future looked brighter for her.

Our friend Menzi helped to shoot some video of one of our nurses, Simon, going out to visit her to provide her medicine. Before we were even able to share this video with the world, she has passed away. This is how we feel in regards to the fight against AIDS and TB sometimes- that the disease seems to still be one step ahead of us. That it takes even more effort to get one step ahead of it and save people’s lives. World AIDS Day is an important reminder that there remains a real urgency for treatment, awareness, and prevention, and that we need to join together to lead and inspire other leaders in the fight against AIDS. We need to take bigger steps to get ahead of the disease and to stop losing precious young people prematurely, like Thabsile.

Click on the arrow to view the first video, of her homestead, and the second video, of her telling her story. (Her story is in Siswati- she tells of how she started to get sick in 2005, found out with tests that she had TB & HIV, and has been on ARVs and TB treatment since and is beginning to get better.)

Sr. Barbara Staley & Sr. Diane Dalle Molle

New Video of OVC Hostel Children

Technical challenges notwithstanding (!), we are happy to be able to share a bit more video with our international community out there.

Click on the square below to view some recent video of the OVC (Orphans & Vulnerable Children) kids playing at the hostel and hear the voice-over of a staff member.

From the video:
“So these children are the OVC children, in Cabrini Ministries’ OVC hostel.

“These are some of the few children who have been able to find mercy through the help of Mother Cabrini and all those that are part of [the works].

“Almost all of these children are orphans- they’ve got no parents. And, most of the parents, they die out of HIV and AIDS, including tuberculosis.

“When the Sisters came here, they had to go around the homesteads and they were able to fund some of the children to come down here. It’s not all of the children, but they do not have enough funds to care for all of the OVCs in the areas here. There are hundreds and hundreds of OVCs here, but they don’t have enough funds for them all. So these are the few who are fortunate enough to be in the hostel. There are about 100 and some kids.

“So we are thankful for these works and the works of everyone who has a concern for these children in the international community for supporting them materially, and even spiritually, and giving them hope… that it doesn’t mean that- if you don’t have parents, life is useless for you, but there is still life and hope after the death of your parents.”

Sr. Barbara & Sr. Diane

Our First Video: Feast of the Sacred Heart 2007

We’re pleased to be able to share with you some video of life and events at Cabrini Ministries Swaziland. Here is our first clip of the events in the church for the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart is an important day for us as many of you know. The children enacted Bible stories, and everyone sang and prayed. Here you can hear some of the singing, as the girls are entering down the aisle in their traditional clothing. (Note the image of the King Mswati III of Swaziland on the cloth.)

A great part about this video is that you can see the girls are wearing the shoes that Jeff Scott and friends managed to get to us. (Click on this link to read the blog posting about the donated shoes: http://cabrini-ministries-swaziland.blogspot.com/2007/01/new-shoes.html)

The girls usually go barefoot in traditional clothes, but they truly love their sneakers so much that they really wanted to wear them to church. Thanks again to everyone that made that happen, and blessings to all our friends and supporters. We have more videos to post for you soon.

Sr. Barbara and Sr. Diane

Click once on the center of the picture below to view the video.