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January 14, 2021
Hope is a feeling that everyone needs. Regardless of a person's circumstance, upbringing, or purpose, everyone needs hope to tackle life successfully. Without it, people can't do anything.
They can't go to that school. They can't pursue that job. And they can't overcome the insurmountable obstacles that are preventing them from achieving their dreams.
Hope is the only thing that can get people from point A to point B, which is why Khutsala Artisans, a Heart for Africa initiative, is so adamant about providing it. In a small kingdom in Southern Africa, Khutsala Artisans is working to provide hope in Swazis' lives.
The hope Heart for Africa and Khutsala Artisans desires to bring centers on four key elements: hunger, orphans, poverty, and education. Each factor represents a letter in the word hope, turning it into an acronym that keeps Heart for Africa and Khutsala Artisans focused on the main areas of life that they want to elevate.
But these areas of life weren't accidentally chosen just to create a catchy acronym. They focus on hunger, orphans, poverty, and education because these are the most significant areas of need for Swazis.
Why there are so many orphans in Eswatini
Unlike last week's article that focused on hunger in Eswatini, this blog post centers on the O in HOPE. While many are unaware, Eswatini is home to more than 200,000 orphans. To put that number in perspective, more than half of Eswatini's population are orphans or vulnerable children.
Various reasons play into this crisis, but some of the primary culprits are poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In a kingdom where 40% of the population lives on less than US$1.25 per day, poverty is a widespread problem.
Most of the people affected live in rural areas where it's hard to increase and maintain agricultural productivity in unpredictable climate conditions. With constant droughts, poor farming practices, and inefficient agriculture systems, unemployment continues to increase in the kingdom.
However, it's the children in Eswatini who feel the impacts of poverty the most. When parents don't have the resources to take care of their children, they usually abandon them or leave them with an aging grandparent who is also unable to care for them properly.
Similarly, when parents die because of HIV/AIDS, their children become orphans in Eswatini. The life expectancy in this kingdom is down to 49-years-old because of this deadly virus. As a result, many children lose their mom and dad at an early age.
But it's not like most parents in Eswatini are happy to abandon their children or pass away without the chance to raise them. Many of the mothers experiencing poverty in Eswatini simply feel discouraged, hopeless, and unable to carry the burden of providing for a child. And if they have HIV/AIDS, sometimes they don't discover it until it's too late.
From orphans in Eswatini to beloved children
The challenges that Swazis face are ongoing, leaving vulnerable children as orphans every single day. However, despite that reality, some children have experienced hope.
Heart for Africa welcomes orphans in Eswatini and raises them as children who know endless amounts of love, joy, peace, provision, safety, and opportunity. This achievement is a result of initiatives like Khutsala Artisans and people who contribute their time and money to instill hope in vulnerable children in Eswatini.
Because of the outpouring of love that hundreds of children have received, the kids at Heart for Africa have experienced new life and miraculous turnarounds. And while Heart for Africa does not make a habit of discussing their children, here's a glimpse of what happens when the kids in Eswatini receive hope.
At only 5-days-old, a girl in Eswatini was burned in a house fire. She had not received treatment since the day of the tragedy, even though she had amassed many injuries.
Her physical pain, however, was also followed by emotional pain. As she grew up and started school, she was teased for her injuries. And the taunting became so bad that she stopped attending school while in the 2nd grade.
Moved with compassion, Heart for Africa quickly took steps to care for and raise this beautiful girl, and now, she is experiencing some of the best moments of her life.
She's completed 1st grade with straight A's and is starting 2nd grade in 2021. She's incredibly smart and committed to doing well in school. And even when this little girl is in the U.S. to have surgery for her injuries, she takes time to be with teachers who give her extra assistance, counseling, and educational testing so that she can be her best self.
Shortly after giving birth, a mother left her son by a river. A passerby found the newborn baby alive, but he was experiencing physical pain because river crabs had eaten the back-end of his tender skin.
After the child was placed in the care of Heart for Africa, the baby's injuries were treated. And today, he is living a full and healthy life. He is a good boy who listens to his aunties and gets along well with the other kids.
With a smile and eyes that can brighten up a room, this boy has a good heart and always helps other kids when they get hurt. At the end-of-the-year award ceremony for preschoolers, he received the Role Model Reward award. And now, he attends pre-kindergarten, where he is a quick learner and excels in his work.
Many children in Eswatini experience malnutrition. One girl, in particular, spent time in the hospital because her situation was so dire that she was on the brink of death. Malnutrition had stunted her growth, decreased her iron levels, and resulted in a complicated skin condition. Making matters worse, this sweet girl also had pneumonia, labored breathing, and a fever.
However, after great care at the hospital and love and attention at Heart for Africa, this little girl is experiencing life to the fullest.
In 2020, she transitioned to Emseni 1, which is known as the "big girl's" home at Heart for Africa. Moving from the toddler's home to the big girl's home is a significant achievement for the children, and it's one that they take seriously!
With this transition, she's now in preschool, where she's quickly picking up on numbers and colors. She's also receiving extra help with language, mostly nouns, but this girl never stops smiling.
She loves to create a little trouble by getting up early and making noise to wake up the others. But when she's not joking around, she likes to hang out with her closest friend and play on the monkey bars.
One day, a father delivered his son to a local hospital. He knew that he couldn't take care of his son, and the child's mother had already passed away.
The boy was experiencing multiple health conditions, and he was extremely malnourished. Without assistance, he would've died. But thankfully, the hospital workers helped bring him back to life, and he was placed in the care of Heart for Africa.
Today, this boy is 8-years-old and is quite the character. He loves to be silly and make people laugh. However, when it comes to school, he knows how to be serious.
In December 2019, he completed the 1st grade, where he received all A's and B's on his third term report card! In addition, he received the Athletic Lion Award for his outstanding effort and athletic abilities in P.E.
Some of his favorite moments include his swimming lessons, the role he played in the Children's Church's Easter play, and the Easter cookies he decorated and ate during Holy Week.
Thirteen months after her birth, a girl was taken to a hospital because she was severely sick and malnourished. Her mother was desperate for help because she couldn't properly care for her daughter when she had a son who needed her attention at home.
Heart for Africa was more than willing to care for the baby girl and help her on the long road to recovery. As a result of the organization's efforts, this girl is now physically progressing and getting the attention she needs.
In March 2020, this sweet girl moved to Emseni 1, the "big girl's" home. And she and three other special needs children share a room together. She seems to enjoy living in the same house as other preschoolers—she often smiles whenever someone approaches her, and she frequently makes happy noises.
When she's with staff, she participates in special exercises that keep her strong and healthy. But one of her favorite parts of the day is whenever the oldest children come to visit her.
When children find hope
When children in Eswatini come to Heart for Africa, they find hope. Instead of living in challenging circumstances that no child should ever endure, they get the chance to dream, play, achieve, and pursue exciting opportunities.
This is why Khutsala Artisans is happy to give all of its profits to the children's homes at Heart for Africa. Every dollar goes towards instilling hope in kids who are born into hopeless circumstances. And if you want to help, you can easily get involved.
By purchasing handmade jewelry, you can contribute to the hope-giving work that Khutsala Artisans is doing. So, don't wait to bring a smile to a child's face. Shop with purpose at Khutsala Artisans.
March 14, 2021
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