VOLUNTEER BLOG IN SWAZILAND: 75% of the kids at one school I visited were AIDS orphans!

24th day – 9 new schools!

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Today we travelled very far, like really far! Naomi was driving, Michael came with us too and Wilson and me were in the back.  We got up very early, packed the car and were on the road by 7:30.

We drove past a very posh golf club on the way to the bush and Michael told me how it is very popular for rich people to want to live on a golf estate as usually they love golf, it is very secure and just the new in thing to do.  I have to admit that I wouldn’t have minded living there either, the homes there were massive and the ground was really nice too.  The weird thing was, as soon as you went past the boundaries of the golf club, you went straight onto a dirt road with dirt huts all around you.  Literally two seconds after the posh golf club the contrast was immense!

The first few schools were not too difficult to find but they were still far from any civilization! At the first school we visited, we met with the head master and he was so keen about rugby it was hilarious.  He was telling us how he wanted to be a ref, coach and have his own team; also he really wanted all the kids to play!  He took us to the staff room to talk to the rest of the staff and they all asked “What are the benefits of rugby?” and before we could say anything the head master said ‘There are so many benefits to rugby!’ he was selling it to them for us it was great!
The third school that we visited had some very shocking statistics that really do show how bad the situation has got in Swaziland.  75% of all of the students in the primary school are OVC’s (orphans) as either one of both parents in most circumstances had been lost to HIV or AIDS. We worked out that, out of 282 students, that meant 212 were orphans!  This was so shocking and really did make all of us think that something really has to be done to stop this being a statistic anywhere else.
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The next school that we visited had a load of old Swazi women outside selling things.  We were high up in the mountains at this point and it gets very cold at night and in certain seasons.  With this in mind,  we had a lot of old rugby jerseys that we had no use for so we gave them out to these old women and they were so happy!  One of them told me I had to shake her hand and as I grabbed her hand to shake it she pulled me in her a hug!  I had a group shot with all of them and they were so appreciative and it was such a good thing to be a part of.
The road that we were using to get up the mountains and into the schools was apparently the new road.  I found this hard to believe but then they pointed out parts of the old road that were so bad that nothing could have driven on it!
One of the final schools we went to visit was so far away from anywhere. You see the sign for whatever name primary and you think, oh it will be just round the corner… NO!  They are very far away!  This school that we went to had one of Wilson’s teachers that had taught him when he was younger.  She was very nice and extremely supportive of SKRUM coming to the school.
The landscape was so desolate but beautiful as we continued further into the mountains. We saw some really cool wildlife.  At one of the schools there was a crazy sheep that kept running around and bleating really loudly. We thought it had gone and then it literally jumped at Wilson and he was so scared it was hilarious! Another interesting thing was seeing a massive dung beetle pushing some poo!
The last school that we managed to visit was in the most ridiculous place. Michael on his blackberry had a GPS sort of thing and it can pin point where we are and where we need to go.  Up this high and in the mountains even that was failing to work at times!  However, when it did work we could see that there was indeed a school. It was like something out of a film as the mist parted showing us the school.  The school was literally in the middle of nowhere, I keep saying the words ‘why would anyone build a school here?!’
The head teacher was very nice and as I can’t understand Swazi, I asked why  Naomi and Wilson were laughing and Wilson told me that the head teacher wanted to buy me to be his wife and they were discussing how many cows he would buy me for!  Even as we left all the children were looking at me and he shouted ‘stop looking at my wife!’  I told him “thanks but no thank you”!  However, I was very impressed as he was willing to give 100 cows and Wilson said this was good!
One of the interesting things about these mountain schools is that most of the children have never seen a white person before. The nickname for white people in Swaziland is a Malungoo. As we left the school about 20 seconds of driving away and the fog just engulfed it and it was like it was never there!  Really freaky!  One statistic that I have found in Swaziland is that the life expectancy is only 32!  It is one of the most insane things about this country and is so low and short for a life to be.
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Bethany Neave
(If you would like to know more about volunteer rugby coaching/AIDS education with the charity SKRUM, check out http://www.volunteervacations.co.uk, send us an email at info@volunteervacations.co.uk or give us a ring on (OO44) 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158)
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About www.volunteervacations.co.uk

We send gap year students, university students, families, people on Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and people on career breaks to coach sports, teach and work in orphanages targetting underpriviledged children in South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland and India. New projects coming up in Thailand and Brazil. In Swaziland we offer bespoke rugby coaching placements with the charity Skrum where volunteers (18 ) can take their Level 1 rugby coaching certificate and then travel on to other placements and coach rugby. In India, the placements are suitable for families and undeer 18's are accepted providing they are accompanied by an adult. India is also suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. We also offer building renovation and reconstruction in India in July. India placements can be from 2 to 12 weeks.
This entry was posted in AIDS in Africa, AIDS in Swaziland, Gap Year, Gap Year in Swaziland, SKrum, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer rugby coaching in Swaziland and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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