SwaziCompanions of Iowa

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday, 16 March

Will try to post a short note tonight.

We ask your prayers for our good friend, Margaret (Meg) Dempsey, who early yesterday found release from the imprisonment of ALS and has joined that heavenly host preparing to celebrate St. Patrick tomorrow.  And also your prayers for her husband Bill Gutowski of Ames and daughter Sarah of Iowa City as well as for her parents, Bill and Lucille Dempsey of Great Barrington, MA.  Bill, Meg, and Sarah spent a year in Cape Town several years ago so have been wonderful support to us as we planned this trip.

Sunday morning found us in Pigg's Peak where Mary Jane preached and celebrated two services at St. Anne's.  Wonderful reception by Canon Charles Kunene and his wife Thulie.  Have already shared the picture of the altar with the folks at St. Paul's, Marshalltown, as their old purple pall now graces the Lenten (and Advent) altar at St. Anne's.  Lunch served by the parish was much appreciated.  On the way back we drove past Maguga Dam again to try to replicate last Tuesday's photo.  I think the water is a little deeper after the rains last week, but it will take many more rainy weeks to fill the reservoir.

Canon Charles Kunene at St. Anne's, Pigg's Peak

In the afternoon we had tea with Lungile Shongwe (center) and a colleague of hers in her new job.  She is still taking oral chemo but the cancer seems to be in remission and she is doing quite well.

Buie, Lungile, Mary Jane
Tuesday we were at St. Bernard's Anglican Primary in the morning.  That is somewhere south of Matsapha, several kilometers beyond the end of the pavement, across the Usuthu River on a bridge that was certainly under water last week.  It is also in another beautiful part of Swaziland with green slopes, some maize, and close to the location where the Rose Craft Weaving is done (some of you have seen their work at places like Swazi Candles).  We were "challenged" to pronounce the names of the teachers as they were introduced to us.  When we were ready to leave I gave the Principal a couple of notes for "the mispronunciation fund".  As he gathered them together for a picture on his camera he handed it to one of the teachers and announced that it was from us for them to celebrate.  Hopefully it got them some cake or something similar.  We were impressed with what this team is doing under extremely difficult conditions.

We then visited St. Michael's Primary and St. Michael's Secondary in Manzini.  Each visit brings its own items of interest, needs, etc.

Wednesday we got to the far north (beyond Pigg's Peak) to visit Mbasheni Anglican Primary School.  Here the government has built one of three demonstration schools for special education.  Total enrollment exceeds 800 students.  While the new building appears to be well built and useful, it would be more useful if there were water to be able to use the toilets.  This school does harvest rain water from several buildings, but the bore hole is apparently not functional.  Further the fees provided to the school by the government for special needs students is apparently no different from regular students.  As usual some well-stated joys and challenges from the teachers.

On the way back we stopped at Forbes Reef Anglican Primary School to deliver 10 school uniforms for girls and 10 for boys from the fund raising activity led last year by the young adults in Swaziland, Iowa, and Brechin.  Those were delivered to the Principal and teachers this afternoon and will be distributed to needy children on Friday.

Archdeacon Bheki with Forbes Reef Principal
And then it was to the Mountain Inn to buy some wifi access and a bit of supper.  Haven't heard any projections on when wifi might be restored at the guest house.
Looking forward to seeing Jacob and a friend this weekend and also realizing that 30 March is getting closer.
Dave and Mary Jane+


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