Swaziland: a memorable and enlightening child sponsor visit

By Pamela Smith, Swaziland Child Sponsor

In April 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Gcinumuzi, a young boy I sponsor through World Vision. He lives in the Macudvulwini area of south-west Swaziland but the adventure started well before April.

The adventure started in earnest on a Monday morning with a six-hour bus trip from Johannesburg (my entry point from Australia) through some fairly arid South African countryside until crossing into the more mountainous and picturesque terrain of Swaziland. After a very comfortable night at the hotel, I was met bright and early on Tuesday morning by two representatives of World Vision Swaziland and their 4WD vehicle.

After the multi-lane highway from Johannesburg, road conditions soon changed to single lane bitumen then a gravel road through mist shrouded mountains to the Macudvulwini World Vision office where a local representative joined us and briefed me of the World Vision projects in the area.

It was then that the necessity for a 4WD became apparent as the final leg to meet Gcinumuzi was over deeply rutted tracks and sometimes no discernible track at all. All part of the adventure!

What a thrill it was to finally meet Gcinumuzi and his family. From the annual World Vision reports, I knew he liked soccer so it was appropriate the he was dressed in a South African soccer shirt.

Also from his annual reports, his favourite subjects at school have varied over the years from Siswati (national language) to maths, and most recently, science. However when I asked the question, he replied without hesitation and with a big grin, “English.” I suspect that he understands much more English than he lets on and that translation was not always necessary.

I had brought small gifts of stationery for Gcinumuzi and pieces of Australiana but what really touched me was his gift to me at the end of the visit – a huge pumpkin that he had grown! This from a family that lives in a mud brick hut with no electricity or running water and a little vegetable patch at the back. It was a most humbling experience. The World Vision representatives explained that this was a symbol of Swazi hospitality to visitors.

After the visit to the family, I was then taken to see the major project of the Macudvulwini area – the Water and Sanitation Project. Stage 1, the reservoir (with some irrigation facilities) has been completed and stage 2, reticulated water to central locations, is underway.

What can I say? The whole visit was a most memorable and enlightening experience. Apart from meeting my sponsored child and his family, I was able to see firsthand the difference that World Vision is making to this part of Swaziland.

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