Women at a Wedding

Women at a Wedding
These ladies were guests at the tribal wedding of Thokozani and Ngoblie in July of 2008. Their joyous smiles say it all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

At this writing it is Sunday evening and our first few days in Swaziland have been very full. Our trip over was uneventful, which was a great relief after all the problems and delays of 2 years ago. We were met at the airport Thursday evening by Babe & Make Gideon and Babe Mhlanga, dear friends from past trips and Vusi, whom we had not met, but have already come to enjoy knowing.
Friday morning we drove into Swaziland. I was riding in the van driven by Babe Mhlanga, who kept nodding off, so he asked that I take over the wheel. Driving on the left side of the road in a backwards car is challenging, but I have come to add this to my list of skills. The only tricky part is intersections which still give me cause to ponder just which lane I will turn in to. I remember Chris as my copilot from 2 years ago who would coach me with a “keep left, keep left” chant.
Friday afternoon we visited the public hospital in Mbabane. I was truly unprepared for just how far behind western medicine this facility was. We visited on the children’s ward and the men’s ward. There are no individual rooms, just large dormitories style open areas in which patients are housed. The level of care appears very to be very limited and sanitation is certainly an issue. For the evening meal patients were being served a large cup of a watery soup and two pieces of bread. I could not help but wonder how any restoration and healing could occur with such limited nutritional support. It was assumed that most of the adults and children were victims of AIDS.
The following morning we arose at 3:30 to attend the funeral of a relative of Babe Mhlanga. I have written of this in a separate post, but I will just say it was an immersion into the reality of the AIDS pandemic in Sub Saharan Africa. The business of burying the dead seems to be met with a resignation of impotence over an invisible but devastating menace.
Today, Sunday was church day at Kukhany Okusha. As we have come to expect, the members wear uniforms to church, and this year they had prepared uniforms for us as well. It was such an honor to don the colors and the sashes of the church, but our pale white skin left no confusion as to who were the visitors when compared to the rich brown copper complexions of the Swazis. Yesterday afternoon we had practiced with the Kukhany Okusha choir and sang with them during the service. Their singing is magnificent. It is without accompaniment and the harmonies are rich and tribal. The entire worship experience is steeped in traditions of the Swazis that has roots in their tribal heritage.
Tomorrow we will go to Gigi’s Place, a feeding station and learning center for street orphans in the city of Manzini. I have visited there on past trips and it is always heartbreaking to get to know the stories of these children.

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