Swaziland is a beautiful mountainous country located in the northeastern corner of South Africa, on the southern border of Mozambique. With an area of just over 17,000 square kilometres, Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere and covers an area of approximately 193 kilometres from north to south, and 145 kilometres from east to west.
Swaziland has a population of just 1.4 million and there are approximately 190,000 people living with HIV/Aids; this small kingdom has one of the highest infection rate in the world.
It’s very difficult to find a definitive number but there are estimates that a minimum of 100,000 Swazi children have been orphaned as a result of HIV/Aids. Therefore, World Hope Canada is partnering with The Fortress Ministry to bring the Reach 4 Life Program to ten schools in the Manzini region.
The purpose of Reach 4 Life is “To share the gospel with at risk youth, challenging them to choose life through abstinence instead of “suicidal sex” through risky sexual behaviors.” Developed in Africa to address the ever-growing HIV/Aids crisis on the continent, it has been written to reach vulnerable teens to help them make healthy and wise choices and to keep them alive!
THE COUNSELLING CENTRE
By Thabsile Thwala
“As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30
The Counselling Centre is the heart of the Fortress Ministry that is our distinctive as a ministry. It is in this ministry whereby many lives have been touched over the years. We look back and we hear many people attesting to the fact that it was because of the kind of counselling they got from the Fortress that they survived a particular situation. What is so fulfilling is that most of the people that consider using this counselling centre are those that are vulnerable and desperate.
In 2011, a girl in her early twenties came to the centre with one week old little boy, who when looking at him had never been oiled since he was born, his skin had cracks all over his little body. She was ready to live him at the home and go to look for a job, according to her, her reasons for leaving him were valid in a way because she was not working and the father had died while she was still pregnant. But after we had talked for a while, I thought to myself that what this girl needs right now is to raise this boy; we are not going to take this baby because she says so. After talking to her for a while I told her that we are not going to take the boy as it is her responsibility as mother to nurture and take care of her baby, how many women are in a similar situation out there but they are doing all they can to raise their children. I told her that this baby needs you to love and care for him, she began to sob and she said I am not going to leave him. Two weeks passed, she was back again pleading for her son to be taken to the home, she came several times, and I still didn’t think it was a good idea. At one time she even told us that she will come when we least expect her to come and leave the baby under the trees by the gate. Since she was now coming regularly we thought it will be good for us to offer counselling to her, but our biggest question was how do we do that because she was sometimes very arrogant and demanding, but with God’s help we gave it a try and at first she resented it, but as time went by she began to appreciate the time we spent together. But I will not be telling the truth if I said I didn’t feel any guilt through all this for refusing to take this innocent baby.
In June, this very same woman came with her four year old little boy. They were both looking so healthy, yet back then she had told us that they were both HIV positive. She told us that she thought hard about everything we had talked about during her visits and during the counselling sessions and she decided to make a difference in her life. She began going to church, she got saved, she got a job at the Sugar Mill, which offered her a suitable accommodation for her and her son (it was not a fancy job, but something that enabled her to earn a living). She had come to pass her gratitude for making her see the importance of caring for her son and also to tell us that she was getting married to a Godly man. In her own words she said, “If it was not for this ministry none of this would have happened because I would have continued to mess up my life with one man after another. Thank you for making me see the light, I love my son and I have appreciated every moment of taking care of him and his sister. And now we will soon have solid Godly home, something I never thought of. As for the girl I had left him with her father when she was a baby, but when I got the job I decided to see if I can be able to live with both my children and we have survived.” These are testimonies that we had nothing to say about, but to give God the Glory.
However, we will not be telling the truth if we can say all our stories have such a happy ending, sometimes we cry and pray to God and still come up with no solution, sometimes we go home feeling so defeated. But it is always comforting to know that God always has better plans, whether we come to see His plans or not.