We are now in Swaziland. We made the five hour trek from Johannesburg to Mbabane, the capital. It was a gorgeous day, and the glorious views of the mountains, were a good welcoming committee and provided a wonderful contrast to what we encountered today.
We unloaded our luggage at the hotel and immediately left for the biggest public hospital in the country. We visited the children's ward and the men's ward. Here we learned the difficulties of health care here in Swaziland.
We met a man who severed his spinal cord four weeks ago. He is paralyzed from the waist down. He has been in the hospital but has not yet seen a doctor. Almost too difficult to imagine. He needs a specialist and there isn't one to be had. They keep telling him that one will come from South Africa but no one knows when that might be.
There is a shortage of doctors here. Swaziland has no medical school and whenever someone goes to medical school outside of Swaziland, it is nearly impossible to get them to come back. We were told that there are only 8-10 doctors for @ 3500 patients at the facility.
In the children's ward, we met three orphans who are disabled/disfigured. One of them is a girl that sits in her wheelchair. She is 20 yrs. When I asked how long the hospital had been her home, she told me since she was born. In every society, it seems that the disfigured are on the far reaches of the margins. The other two, who live in what I would call a work room/cleaning room/staff room, along with the stench of urine, were much younger.
Throughout the hospital there were no private or semi-private rooms, only big spaces with lots of beds divided by screens where lucky.
We will continue to process these scenes.
We had a few very pleasant surprises, too. Friends, Sandile and Thokozani joined us tonight for a gathering of songs. It was entirely wonderful to visit and sing with them (more enjoyable to listen to them then to listen to me.)
Tomorrow will be a full day.
We will be leaving the hotel at 4:30am, before dawn, to attend a funeral service, which happens outside at day break. Thokozani, the groom from two years ago, will take us.
We will then have meetings with the church groups of KZC - youth reps, women's groups, etc. We will have our final fitting for our church uniforms and we will have choir practice, for the DVD shoot on Sunday. More on that later...
All is well. Keep praying for us.