It is estimated that there were approximately 100,000 orphans in Swaziland in 2008. In 2010, the country’s population is 1.3 million people. More than 56,000 children in this country of over 1 million have been orphaned by AIDS (Unicef). You can not begin to imagine the devastation this is wreaking upon the family structure and economic stability of the country. The vast majority of these deaths are aids-related in the middle of the parenting generation.
Pregnant women reporting to birthing clinics and hospitals face mandatory HIV testing. This is, in part, due to the fact that the “anti-mother-to-child-transmission” drug is now available and free in Swaziland. Recent stats (2018) show that with the advent and implementation of this life saving drug, the transfer rate of HIV from mother to the new born baby, has now dropped to under 5%. This is a massive and very significant improvement and a cause for celebration. However, anecdotal reports from nurses in the field report that women in rural clinics are still testing positive at a rate of over 50%.
Treatment for aids, HIV prevention, education and condoms are readily available in Swaziland, all of it for free, but this has done little to dampen the ever advancing numbers of infected people.
Swazi Kids involvement with these innocent victims is multifold. In fact, it is impossible to do any work in this country without involving yourself in its’ children. First, the vast majority of the children being sponsored for education in our program are either “single” or “double” orphans. This signifies whether one or both parents have died.
Our food program feeds all the students at Matjana Elementary School, most of whom are orphans or vulnerable children. In their homesteads, most would receive one meal in addition to the school’s offering, at most.
Our building projects are directed specifically at OVC’s. In 2006, we raised $25,000 USD for a new home to house 8-10 OVC’s in conjunction with a fabulous local project called African Leadership Partners. We then traveled as a group of Canadian builders and helped in the construction of the new home for these children.
In 2009, we built a brand new 3 bedroom home for a family of nine: 81 yr old grandmother, 5 grandchildren and 3 young great-grandchildren. The middle generation, mother and father, have both died of aids. We raised funds for this structure ($10,000) and built it in conjunction with SOS Children’s Village and with a local chapter in Mbabane, SD.
First, we supply fresh food, meat, clothing and toys to various homes for children who transition.
As a consequence of our personal interest in the care of these children without families, when we are in Swaziland for Swazi Kids business, there are always trips to check into the various care homes and facilities harbouring these babies and children. We provide: food, medicine, toys, books, clothing, formula, diapers etc. on an as need/as able basis.