Monday, September 30, 2013

Swaziland 2013 - part 11, Mangwaneni and Sandra Lee

We spent the morning at Mangwaneni Carepoint. Some of you may remember that our 2011 team worked at Mangwaneni on the last trip - so both Kim and I were excited to see how things were coming along there. We were there in the morning so we were in the two preschool classes but didn't get a chance to see the school aged kiddos. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the way the kids behaved. The last time we were there the kids were a little aggressive with grabbing at us and trying to get into our pockets to see what we had. These preschoolers were awesome! They were as patient as you can expect little ones to be, even while waiting in line for oranges and banana biscuits. What was also really cool was to see that the teachers there were the same ones that had been there the last time we visited. It's so important for these kids to have stability in some form... and those teachers give it, along with lots of love.

We went inside to do a coloring craft and Bible story with the smaller preschool kids.  Kriek told the story of creation and we taught the kids a new song. They had a good time trying to learn the motions (and laughing at us as we tried to do them correctly!) Then we pulled out the coloring sheets and new crayons - lots of smiling faces when they saw all of the boxes of fresh crayons!

Next we headed over to the other room to do a Bible story and craft with the older preschoolers. Kriek taught about the word of God being stronger than a sword so of course we colored swords with the kids. They loved every second... and even after Kriek told them several times that they weren't for smacking each other they would sneak a little jab in here of there. :)

Jodi pulled out her bag of balloons and handed out animals and swords - I will never get over how excited ANY kids get about these!

We had to say goodbye to these kids far too quickly. It was such a fun morning and I would have liked to spend more time here but I was also eager to get to our next stop: The Sandra Lee Center.

I've talked a little about how rare orphanages are in Swaziland - Sandra Lee is one of the few that they have. It's an orphanage of sorts, but so much more! They have land and several buildings on site. Some of the buildings are houses for the orphans that live at Sandra Lee. Each house has a group of kids and a house mother that live there. I love that it has an "it takes a village" feel with all of the kids playing together and helping each other but each house eats meals with just their family unit and has chores to get done - just as they would if they were living in a traditional home. As the kids took us by the hand and led us through the houses they were so proud to show us their rooms that they cleaned and their beds that they had made.

I can't even stress how awesome this place is! They take in kids that are orphaned or dumped and give them a home and a life. These kids are literally rising out of the ashes into a life where they will most likely have a better chance at success than the average Swazi. I am absolutely in awe of Mike and his wife who started this place many years ago and have made it thrive. Sandra Lee gets it's funding privately and not through the government - so if you feel like you'd like to donate, please do... every single dollar counts!!

Our friends, the Brocks, moved from AIM (where they were on our last trip) to Sandra Lee and are doing amazing things there. Dennis and his wife Zwakele are two of my favorite people and it was so good to see them (and their beautiful daughter, Thandeka) again!

This was a wonderful and uplifting day. Sandra Lee was such an awesome experience - and it really shows how much can be done for the orphans. This is definitely a place that I can see myself advocating for!


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