Sunday, 21 July 2013

Week 3

Swaziland, week 3

A weekend off for Bishop Ellinah
Anglican Communion News Service reports that thousands of Christians from Botswana and beyond attended the enthronement and consecration of Botswana’s new and fifth bishop, the Rt Revd Metlhayotlhe Rawlings Beleme, the first Botswana-born bishop of the diocese.The five-hour long service, presided over by the Primate of Central Africa the Most Revd Albert Chama, was held at the Holy Cross Cathedral in Botswana's capital Gaborone. It was described as a “wonderful mix of deep Anglican liturgy and rich Setswana culture.

No reporting of the fact that Bishop Ellinah, who was enthusiastically invited by the Diocese of Botswana, was informed on Thursday last that while she could attend the service she could not vest as a bishop nor sit in the sanctuary with the other (male) bishops. 
Bishop Ellinah decided not to make the long journey (7 hours drive each way), so we went out for lunch on Saturday with her grandson, Baraka, and Maureen Moss from Limerick Diocese. We visited the Ngwenya Glass Factory, where beautiful things are made from recycled glass - and the chocolate shop.
The Diocesan Office
I've been spending my days in the Diocesan Office - long days 8am till 5pm. I'm helping Mrs Tembe with her filing, both in cabinets and on her computer.

Beketele Tembe
Mrs Tembe has worked for four bishops of Swaziland, and is now Bishop Ellinah’s PA. She meets the visitors and looks after the diary. I have been helping her clear out some old files - which is a slow job because so many of the files are interesting!

Mr Andreas Zwane, the gardener and care-taker, has been part of the bishop’s household since he was 9 years old. On Monday he brought me a present of a live chicken. Thankfully Bishop Ellinah’s helper, Jabu, dealt with it, and we had it for dinner on Tuesday.

Celebrations at Usuthu Mission
Wednesday was the last day for the Rathfarnham team at Usuthu Mission Anglican Primary School. Staff and pupils were delighted with the seven repainted classrooms, and the progress on a new design of kitchen which will reduce the fuel bill by 70%. After receiving pencil cases donated by Us supporters in Ireland the 550 children had a "holiday" lunch with meat. They then put on a special show for the Irish visitors with sketches and speeches, and modern and traditional dance. Happy, the project manager for the parents' committee, gave us all a Swazi emahiya, and the staff prepared a delicious lunch. Usuthu Mission is the school where Maureen Moss is working. She was one of the staff members who cooked lunch, and then one of the visitors for the show.

Pencil cases from Ireland

The blessing of the kitchen

Newly painted classroom

Happy & Maureen

Saturday in Hlane Game Park
with Mandla and Maureen

Week 2

On Saturday afternoon Jan & Mandla set off in convoy with the bus for Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport. They, and the bus driver, were booked into a B&B nearby - a scary experience for all three. They were at arrivals at 4.30 on Sunday morning to meet the team for the drive to Swaziland.

By 10 am they had crossed the border, and soon afterwards arrived at Thokoza, the Diocesan Centre, where they are staying in a combination of twin rooms and a self-catering bungalow. After breakfast and a rest they set off for Mlilwane Game Park, where they saw various types of antelope, hippos and zebras; no crocodiles out today. 

The team attended Holy Communion in St Matthias’ Church, Ezulwini, and then headed for Thokoza for supper and an early night.

Early on Monday morning the Rathfarnham team set off for Usuthu Mission Anglican Primary School. They were there in time for assembly at 7.45am.
The team divided into 3 groups: one group to build a kitchen; one group to paint classrooms; one group to work with pupils and teachers.

On Thursday we drive over two hours to visit Fr Gregory Makhubu. Rector of Hlangano and surrounding areas, Fr Gregory looks after a number of Neighbourhood Care Points in the south-east of Swaziland. There is great poverty here, malnutrition, and high rates of HIV infection. Fr Gregory estimates that 75% of the pre-school children attending this NCP are HIV positive. 

The Care Point is run by the Simelane family, who very kindly allowed us to visit their homestead. Mr Simelane grows a small crop of cotton, which he stores in his sleeping hut. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

July 2013, Week 1

A bad start

Mandla Mdluli, about whom you have read before on this blog, had a wonderful three months visiting Clooney Parish in Londonderry. He was scheduled to travel back to Swaziland on the same flight as Jan and I. However when he tried to check in at Dublin Airport, Mandla was told he was on standby for the first flight. All three flights had been booked together, why Mandla? According to an airline official, “all flights are overbooked” in the belief that a percentage of people won’t show up. There followed lots of talking. We didn’t want to fly without Mandla, but since we had our seats allocated we couldn’t be put on standby. We wouldn’t be accommodated on another flight. 

When he was told there was definitely no seat the talking increased in volume and pitch. It might have been that, or Mandla’s prayers, but at the last minute Mandla was given a seat - in business class. Most annoying was the fact that there were several empty seats on the flight. The rest of the journey went smoothly.

Back to Brackenhill Lodge

Revd Arthur Barrett
After reuniting Mandla with Granny, Priscilla Skhosana (104), we met Revd Arthur Barret at Brackenhill Lodge. Brackenhill is a wonderful B&B run by Frances and Leon Takis, members of All Saints’ Cathedral Parish in Mbabane. They and their brilliant staff look after us very well. The weather was good, and we had our planning meeting on the veranda. Too cold to swim!  

Luyengo Farm
We hold our monthly Luyengo Fresh Produce board meetings by Skype: Tiekie and Robert in Luyengo, Jan in Dublin and Arthur in Enniskillen. It was good to meet face-to-face, and to have the chance to walk the farm. 
 Lindokuhle Siphephile
There is a good and growing relationship between LFP and the University of Swaziland Agriculture Dept, which is also in Luyengo. Lindokuhle (Lindo) is a 3rd year horticulture student and she is doing a 10-week internship on the farm. Lindo says, “I am learning a lot. It’s good to put the theory into practice. I would like to get a job in a place like this.” 

8am service in All Saints’ Cathedral, where the preacher Revd Percy Mngomezulu and his wife were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. Brilliant sermon on the fruits of the Spirit! It was good to be back and meet many friends. Good Anglican tea and buns afterwards too!

Today Arthur borrowed a diocesan car and went to visit Abraham Gama at Ingwempisana. Jan and Mandla (and I) set off for St Paul’s Anglican Primary School. It looks as if our plans for the Rathfarnham team will have to be changed.
Disappointing! This is Lydia - more later...

With the plans for a new kitchen at St Paul's School thwarted, a new project needed to be found, and quickly. 
Maureen Moss, from Limerick & Killaloe, had reported recently that Usuthu Mission School was in dire need of a new kitchen. A visit confirmed that the kitchen was falling down and full of smoke. The decision was taken to transfer the Rathfarnham team to Usuthu Mission. 

The first two photos show Jan and Archdeacon Bheki discussing plans with a meeting of approx 200 parents - and in the third photo preparatory work starts straight away. The site is cleared and levelled, and ready for work to start.

Members of the Diocesan Finance Committee: Ven Michael Dludlu, Mr Hamilton Curtis, Mr Humphrey Mavuso (Chair), Mrs Ethel Ndlela, Revd Dalcy Dlamini, Mrs Thembie Mavimbela, Rt Revd Ellinah Wamukoya, Linda Chambers (Us), Canon Orma Mavimbela.

We were very honoured to be invited by the Finance Committee to dinner in Thokoza Church Centre on Thursday evening. Humphrey and Hamilton both spoke of the Diocese’s appreciation of the support from Us. Linda said that the very positive developments in the diocese since Bishop Ellinah’s consecration helped partners to raise awareness of the situation of the diocese and to raise funds. 

Rathfarnham team on their way

Jan & Mandla left this evening to meet the team at Johannesburg airport at 4am tomorrow. They are expected at Thokoza Church Centre
between 9 and 10 for breakfast, a rest and then a drive through Mlilwane Game Park. Church tonight at St Matthias’.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Ngwenya Glass Factory

They are not blowing in the wind!
Good artist creating unique and quality items is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Swaziland.  One of the big tourist attractions in Swaziland is Ngwenya Glass. 
In the 1970’s a Swedish consortium started this glassblowing factory as an aid project but after a few years it ran into financial trouble.  One of the visitors to this factory was the family Prettejohn. When they returned to Swaziland a few years later they could not find the factory and while refuelling their vehicle at a filling station close to the Ngwenya border post they asked the attendant where the factory was. The attended told them he was one of the glass blowers and they had all lost their jobs as the factory had been closed down.  Just there the Prettejohn decided to resuscitate this factory and nearly five decades later they are still going strong. 
Ngwenya is the SiSwati word for crocodile. The factory lies at the foot of a mountain that resembles a crocodile. Here many Swazi men and women have been trained in the ancient art of glassblowing. Daily they create their own interpretations of the African animals as well as unique tableware and decorative art items. Visitors to the factory can view the artists at work from a balcony with no protection from the heat. Just standing there experiencing the incredible heat in which these people work all day and every day serves to increase ones admiration for their effort. When you go into the show room to admire the fruits of their creativity you pay the price on the item with a smile. 
Ngwenya glass also keeps moving with the times and have commited themselves to be ‘green’ and to help with some of the social problems rife in Swaziland. On their website you can read more about Ngwenya Glass’ involvement  with the recycling, planting of indigenous trees, supporting orphans, helping to prevent abuse  and many more commendable  projects.

Examples of the tableware handmade at Ngwenya Glass.

This proud peacock is one of many often hanging around to welcome visitors to Ngwenya Glass.