Swaziland’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Pep Bonet’s slide show tells the story of Swaziland’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children, both individual and collective stories. As you follow their stories, please hold them in your heart, send them your love and/or prayers. They don’t make the headlines in global news, so we have adopted them as part of our forgotten world series.

Busisiwe looks after her three sisters ..... the children depend on school feeding (midday meal) and a guaranteed warm meal provided at the Neighbourhood Care Point. Without this help, the girls may not survive. Copyright Pep Bonet

Swaziland has the most severe level of HIV infection in the world. The virus has killed many people creating thousands of orphans. 140,000 either head their household, caring for sisters and brothers themselves, or are in the care of grandparents. 23% of Swazi children are orphans and the number is increasing.

Not all are orphans, but there are many Vulnerable Children. Thulani, 13, is the head of his small household. He and his younger siblings Samkelo and Samkelisiw look after one another, since like many parents, their widowed mother left home to look for work in Mbabane, Swaziland’s capital.

UNICEF found an alarming rate of violence against children in a national study conducted with US Centers for Disease Control. Late in 2008, Swaziland established the nation’s first Sexual Offences Unit for children, but this cannot provide adequate protection for these orphans and vulnerable children.

As we reported in our January Magazine, in a country with a UN Millenium Goal to achieve universal primary education by 2015, these children are the ones most likely to be without education. Although their school fees are guaranteed by the Swazi Government and various charities, it frequently doesn’t reach the schools, who therefore refuse them entry. They are also turned away from schools because they aren’t wearing the uniforms, they can’t afford.

Their problems go far beyond just the lack of schooling, as the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNHCR) points out

To address the Orphans and Vulnerable Children issue holistically … we need a social policy to take care of (their) needs. Currently, government pays schools fees, but what happens to their basic need: food, shelter, bus fare, clothing?

A report by Mantoe Phakathi includes a heart wrenching quote from a local teacher:

“Besides their not having the proper school uniform, the orphans don’t have warm clothes,” said Zwane Georgina Zwane, a teacher at Motshane Central Primary School.

“It breaks my heart to see them shivering in class on a cold day.

“Many of these children also come to school on an empty stomach and it is difficult for them to concentrate in class before they get their meal at school during break time.”

Please remember these forgotten children of Swaziland. Please click on the picture above to view Pep Bonet’s pictures and stories so they are not forgotten. Please share these links so that their story reaches the wider world.

You can read all of Mantoe Phakathi’s report at  All Africa.Com which is an excellent site for stories and information on what remains an often forgotten continent in our world.

(I would not wish to recommend a charity without checks on the levels of funding that directly reach the children. Many major charities and agencies have a global pot, so there is no guarantee that it would reach Swaziland. I have asked my god-daughter who is working there to check out some good options for us. I will update you on our research.)

4 Responses to “Swaziland’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children”

Comments (4)
  1. christine says:

    Robyn, again, thank you so much!! Sounds better and better!!

  2. Robyn says:

    Sorry I forgot to post the web site
    http://www.youngheroes.org.sz
    I researched it a fair bit – there are lots of blogs if you do a search on young heroes swaziland of people who have volunteer from Overseas and worked for them or observed their work in Swaziland.
    It was set up by some people in America who were in the Peace Corp in Swaziland – I think about 5years ago.

  3. christine says:

    Robyn, thank you so much for taking the time to share this information. This sounds like a good match and I suggest readers check it out.

  4. Robyn says:

    Hi ,
    the Young Heroes Organisation is a good charity – of the USD $19.95 a month USD $19.00 goes to the orphan family. USD $0.95 covers mainly bank transaction fees and the Swazi Goverment fund the administration of the program.

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