A Tale of Two Swazilands
This is a tale of two Swazilands. It begins in a luscious, landlocked South African country which around 1.2 million people call home. It is a tale of a nation that has in recent years become synonymous with two words: HIV and Poverty.
The rate of HIV is staggering. In fact, it is the highest of any country in the world, with 26% of the adult population HIV positive. The poverty statistics don’t make much better reading. 63% of the population live below the poverty line, surviving on just $1.25 a day.
This is the point where the single tale of a nation in its present state hits a fork in the road - becoming two tales of a nation as it could be in the future.
A Tale of Extinction
In a nation where the majority of people won’t see their 50th birthday, it’s impossible to sweep death under the carpet. Children like Tengetile (see front cover story), who had to start caring for her siblings while still a teenager, know this reality all too well.
It is the stories of children like Tengetile - and the harsh facts that underlie them - that led the United Nations to issue a dire warning about the future of the Kingdom of Swaziland a few years ago. The UN warned that if Swaziland continued down the path it was on, the nation faced extinction by the year 2050.
An entire nation of grandmas and grandpas, mums and dads, and children of all ages wiped off the face of the earth. It may be a tale of the worst possible future, but it is also a tale that remains alarmingly possible.
A Tale of Hope
There is, however, another tale of Swaziland’s future unfolding. It’s a tale already being told in rural places like Kaphunga, where six local churches have come together to care for around 120 impoverished families – including Tengetile and her siblings.
Through the Samaritan’s Purse Church Mobilisation Programme
, over 60 churches have discovered they can be part of re-writing Swaziland’s predicted future. They can grow crops to feed orphans, start small businesses providing income for widows, and pool savings to give people living with HIV/AIDS access to life-saving medication. They can push back the tide of poverty, disease and death – and all in the name of Jesus.
This is the tale Samaritan’s Purse wants to write of Swaziland’s future. Our vision for the future is of a nation where over 1,000 local churches have been equipped and inspired to reach 121,000 vulnerable children and adults – responding with practical care and spiritual hope. That is the aim of our 3-year HOPE Programme in Swaziland.
Our prayer is that the tale of two Swazilands would become one: a tale of the Kingdom of God breaking out in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
By Dave Vann