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Child Sponsorship Report 2009, from Nhlangano, Swaziland

Sponsored children from Nhlangano
Sponsored children from Nhlangano

A child sponsorship report from Nhlangano in Swaziland. Written in 2009.

Dear Friends and Child Sponsors

SOS Children Nhlangano sends warm greetings to all friends, sponsors and supporters. The Village is looking good and green again due to the early summer rains which have put life in the grass and enabled trees to blossom with flowers. We are again happy to get this opportunity to write and update our friends about the activities of this family and sincerely thank you for your continued support.

The cold 2009 winter season is gone and we have just welcomed the summer season again. Swaziland had the coldest winter we have ever had in a long time. This was due to the lot of rains we have had the past summer season.
 
The Village started the second half of this year well and is currently a home to ninety nine children following the re-integration of one boy who was sent back to the community to stay with his uncle after a seriously challenging behaviour that could not improve even after a lot of counseling. Six are in the nursery, eighty two in primary school and eleven in secondary school. The youth facilities house twenty nine youths while the Family Strengthening Programme (FSP) has a total of two hundred and sixteen families with five hundred and twenty four children.

The youth boys moved to a farm house in June 2009 and this house is expected to accommodate more boys than the previous facility. It is hoped that the boys will continue with their gardening and chicken rearing projects since this new facility has a big garden and two reasonably built chicken sheds. These two projects are expected to expand to include a piggery and a dairy project. The new house has an adequately set and well divided piggery in place. There are three highly pregnant cows which is a good sign that a lot of milk will be used to start an income generating project.

All the village children and youths are in good health. There were a few cases of flu caused by the changes in the season and the early new summer rains which were well taken care of by the SOS clinic. Those that are on medication also continued to receive their prescribed supplies on time. The children and youths who had special health cases were taken to the different specialists.

Quite a large number of the children and youth did not perform well in the past term’s examinations. As a result there has been more vigorous and focused study exercises to make sure that this time they improve their scores in the coming final exams. The nursery has also continued to add value to the children’s education as twenty eight of these children receive special learner support and assistance from the nursery teachers to improve their academic performance. Four children and one youth attended interviews for the SOS International College in Ghana which were held at the Adult Training Centre in April 2009. Unfortunately none of our children qualified instantly for admission into this College. They were instead all recommended for the long distance preparatory learning programme which will enable them to write their admission tests again in 2010. One child from the village attended a Waterford KaMhlaba World Colleges’ 2010 admission interview late last month. If he is successful, he will be admitted into the college’s form one class next year.

In terms of further development, the children and youth were able to attend and participate in a number of self-developing workshops. These include career guidance for secondary and high school students. The village staff was also engaged in workshops that were sensitizing them on the new SOS Children’s Villages policies. The main aim was to strengthen the staff’s understanding of the policies and to be able to make the expected impact in the lives of the children in our care.

Prince Lindani (His Majesty King Mswati’s son) and the Committee of the Prince Lindani Foundation visited the village in June 2009. The Prince came to meet the children and to see where and how they live. He toured the entire village facilities. He was impressed with the quality care given to the children in the SOS family houses. At the end of the tour, the Prince spoke to the children advising them to be good children who will grow to be responsible citizens. He commended SOS Children’s Villages for the good and quality care given to the children and youth. He then donated thirty blankets and a sum of E5, 000-00 for extra blankets so every child could get one. He also had an opportunity to have one on one discussion with a few of the children. When all was done there was a photo shoot with the prince which the children loved very much. You should have been there to see the lovely smiles on their beautiful faces. He made a promise to visit the village again.

Hermann Gmeiner’s Day was celebrated in June with children from the Family Strengthening Program. The children had earlier on been asked to enter for a special competition where they were expected to write an essay, poem, or draw and or use clay to come up with something to express their views on what they thought adults should do to make Swaziland fit for children. The competition was run as part of the Hermann Gmeiner’s Day celebrations. There were eight prizes to be won by both the senior and junior categories of children. A number of children participated in this competition and it was noted how well they expressed their feeling on how Swaziland should be made fit for children.

Eight children participated in the Swaziland National Youth Council, Swaziland Music and Arts & skills demonstration event which was organized by the Mbabane village. The Nhlangano girls dance group was awarded with bronze medals for coming 3rd in the kwaito dancing category.
 
Most children and youth have shown signs of lack of interest and poor enthusiasm to participate in soccer, volleyball and netball which were our leading sport games in the past. Our newly formed rugby team which started like they were going to be hot favourites in the region has now also lost its steam. The village staff has since organized to have games with the children and youths on Fridays’ afternoon. This we hope will somehow revive our children’s interests in sports and cultural activities.

“Yet another year and I made it for Umhlanga Reed Dance, my best reed dance in 7 years”; these were the words of one of the more than 130 000 maidens who were at this year’s reed dance. It was like the whole world had converged at the Ludzidzini Royal Stadium with people coming as far as the USA and other African countries. On the last day of this cultural event Princess Sikhanyiso, the King’s eldest daughter also took to the podium to display her dancing skills while singing her new song titled, “Sengikhulile” loosely translated “I’m grown up now”. Over eighty thousand maidens registered for the reed dance on the first day. Fifteen of the youth girls attended the 2009 Annual Reed Dance Ceremony at Ludzidzini Royal Kraal and a total of thirty attended the regional dance. The Times of Swaziland Newspaper has described the 2009 Reed Dance as a scintillating display of a charming culture.

The Nhlangano Village would like to take this opportunity and thank you again for your unwavering support during these trying times of economic hardships. We hope to share with you our Village’s activities again in the New Year. We wish you all the best during the festive season and a wonderful 2010.