Hello and welcome to my podcast from Swaziland. I've been very busy and have already recorded podcast 87 - I'll try and get that uploaded tomorrow - I have had a series of interviews with folks ( absolutely compelling - you cannot miss them - really) and hopefully by Sunday night that should be concluded too.
I was staying in a mud hut - a 'homestead' which was a circular mud hut for want of a better word, with a straw roof - there were no mod cons, just a simple shower, a basin, a bed and a mirror. I have to say it was luxury - apart from worrying what had fallen through the roof ont me during the evening. The bugs here are copious, varied and huge. I don't even want to think what manner of creatures had bitten me.
Everything you see about Africa seems to be here - poverty, wealth, death, ladies with baskets on their heads.
I'm now at the Mountain Inn, Swaziland - it has wifi, TV's all the western trappings, a pool and such like. You'll hear from the podcast that the guy who runs the orphanage; 'Hawane Farm' was destined to own this from hotel from his father - he gave up the lot to care for the poor and needy children. What an awesome bloke. So selfless, compassionate and such a tremendous heart.
Kevin sat and had a cup of tea at this wifi spot and pointed out to the phenomenal view of the vast mountains ahead. Kevin pointed out to "Sheba's breasts" - a double mountain peak near 'Piggs Peak'. Both figure heavily in the classic "Kinng Solomon's Mines" by H Rider Haggard, a book I enjoyed trremendously as a lad, if you like the classic that was the forerunner to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and all the Indiana Jones movies that followed. Kevin mentioned that H Rider Haggard had penned the story not 500 yards from where I was sitting. Wow!
The folks here seem to smile all the time, one boy who I thought was just 6 or 7 but is actually 15 - I call him "Muttley" but his real name is something like "Mucli" never seems to stop smiling. Muttley is one of the children who lost his parents to AIDS - I was stunned to hear that he lost his mum a few years ago and had been providing all her palliative care. He had no experience, no medicines, no idea how to assist and at a tender age contracted AIDS from caring from his mum. Such is the way of Swazi life. People just seem to muck in, do anything they can, and, when the worst of things occur, just buckle down and get on with it even more. No state assistance seems to be available, just folks like Kevin with a heart.
The centre now houses 16 children in all states of HIV / AIDS and has 30 or so full time folks, many Swazi or South African Christian folks who are tirelessly dedicated. I smiled to myself as I spoke to a 27 year old Nurse...from Weston SuperMare (about 70 miles from me back home) who is giving a year of her time to help, a group of Irish lads had been busy building a house to expand the centre for two weeks and would be returning home tomorrow.
The centre plans to take nearly 100 children eventually, with plans for expansion, even a hospice so the poor children who become so ill here can at least die in peace - with friends and their adpoted family - Kevin & Co. This has just opened my eyes to just how selfless people can be.... and sadly just how selfish we can all be.
Am I enjoying Swaziland? 'Enjoy' just seems to be the entirely wrong word. I feel priviliged to be in the company of such awesome people, and such an awesome nation.