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Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Swaziland Chronicles #7 :: Another Orphanage & a Raped 14 yr. old

Wednesday:

- We woke and visited another Carepoint in the remote outskirts of Durban. We were met by a 19yr. old young man. This was the only Carepoint thus far with a male presence. He was intelligent, fluent in English, smiling like he just won the lottery and offering us a greeting like we were the Royal Family paying them a visit. He grew up in this very community and was planning to go to college to pursue videography and graphic design. We learned later that he was doing an internship for 6 months as an administrator for the point person, Cindy, better known as Cindylisious.

- She started the Carepoint by herself when she saw the need around her. Focus somehow found out about her initiative and began to connect with what she was already doing. Hopechest is providing the food currently, but they are in need of sponsorship by a church in the states to carry on. There was a little boy there I connected with right away. The minute I saw him, he lifted his arms for me to pick him up. I played hide and seek with him and laughed with a shot-gun giggle that just melted your heart. (I couldn’t stop thinking about our adoption and the Ethiopian little boy that will become my son.) The children in this little room were all infants between the ages of 2 to 4 year old and were taken care of by about 5 women in all. They sang us a little song and we spent some time talking to them and holding them before their naptime. When we left this 10x25 cinder block structure they put the kids down for a nap lined up on the dirt floor in three rows. There must have been about 20-25 kids crammed in this makeshift nursery. It was cute and crushing to see all at the same time.

- In the backyard were 7 or 8 mounds of dirt that represented the graves of relatives that had died in the recent years leaving Cindy and—I think—her uncle to fend for themselves.

- We made our way to visit some the homes where the children live. It is mostly women in the villages now; many with HIV and many who are grandmothers trying their best to tend to the needs of the neighborhood children. We stopped and prayed for a few of the women in a cluster of homes asking God to Father and Husband their families. I simply didn’t know how else to pray.

- We walked down the street to make another home visit entering a destitute neighborhood full of little children running around and women standing next to their homes smiling at our entrance. One of the women was a 22 yr. old woman holding her baby. She was exquisitely beautiful and had contracted Aids recently enough that you couldn’t tell on the outside there was anything the matter. Her smile showcased straight, white teeth that sparkled in the sunlight. She had two children and was trying to eke out a living to support them. As I was talking with her and playing with her little one, one of our team members came up behind me and whispered that their was a girl over by the fence row who had been raped within the past week. I turned and saw this 14 yr. old girl crouched over, sitting on a rock, hitting a plastic bucket over and over again with a stick. She was propping her head up with her arm, fist to face, elbow to thigh. She had an expressionless look about her and she appeared as if she was staring through everything in front of her. I felt a tug to go and talk with her but something in me balked. With the knowledge of this trauma, I felt tongue-tied not even knowing where to begin to engage a conversation. But in spite of my instinct to keep my distance, I willed myself to go over to her. I stood before her and she wouldn’t look up at me. I knew that she knew I was standing there, but she wouldn’t lift her head. I kept thinking, “Just leave her alone…you are a man…she hates your kind…you are the opposite sex that just stole away her innocence. Walk away.” But again, my spirit moved me to stoop down toward her. I knelt next to her and put my hand on her shoulder introducing myself. She wouldn’t look at me. I dropped lower still willing to go as low as I had to in order to make eye contact. I wanted her to see my eyes. As I bent low, she finally tilted her head and rolled her eyes upward finally catching mine. I smiled with my mouth and eyes as I grabbed her hand and held it with both of mine. I spoke to her, “God bless you.” She smiled a bit and looked back down. I released her hand, put my hand on her shoulder again, said a simple prayer, and went on my away. My heart was pounding in my chest.

- Our team walked back to the Carepoint, said our goodbyes, and went to eat some lunch at Focus. It seemed so unfair that we could just get in and get out so easily while they had to stay there, some to a life sentence, some to a death sentence, either way imprisoned.

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