Re-evaluation of BFC's part of the Swaziland Partnership
Many positive things are happening in every area of our work. More than 150 people have joined a GO Team to serve in Swaziland from BFC, SNU, Lenexa Central Church of the Nazarene, and the Canadian Central District of Canada. But when it is all said and done, what is BFC doing to affect the two most critical issues facing Swaziland today?
What can BFC do to help lower the HIV infection rate in Swaziland?
What part can BFC play in helping thousands of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Swaziland?
Proposed AIDS Plan
The Need: We were appalled that over 289,000 were killed in the Indian Ocean tsunami in late 2004, in a matter of minutes by monstrous waves. Yet, there is an AIDS tsunami every month as over 289,000 die in Sub-Saharan Africa from AIDS.
The Plan: We all face a common enemy in AIDS. BFC felt we should start with a partnership with the Nazarene Church in Swaziland to fight this disease and its many cultural misconceptions. Every district superintendent in Swaziland stated that all their pastors and spouses need to be trained on how to speak to their congregation about AIDS. Our focus needs to be abstinence, faithfulness in marriage, and heart holiness.
Many pastoral couples also need a safe place to find out their own HIV status. It is difficult to encourage others to do something that you yourself have not done.
There are several areas that are currently being worked on in this proposed plan:
A Swaziland National Pastoral Couples Conference is proposed for 2011. This conference will include combined sessions as well as separate workshops for men and women. Lastly, time will be allotted so that every district can formulate their plan.
Curriculum is being researched that can be used 2 months prior to the conference for the preparation of all pastoral couples.
An AIDS awareness concert is being proposed for every Nazarene Swaziland district in the summer of 2011 to promote the messages of abstinence and faithfulness.
These are the first proposed steps in equipping our pastoral leaders to speak out against this common enemy of AIDS.
AIDS Orphans and Vulnerable Children
The Need: “Over 12 million children in Africa are orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. 134 million children do not have access to education. 91 million children are living daily with debilitating hunger and an estimated one million children enter the commercial sex trade every year in order to survive.” From Nazarene Compassionate Ministries
Experts say that Swaziland will have 200,000 AIDS orphans by 2012 which is 20% of their current population. There are many other vulnerable children in Swaziland. These children may have only one parent or may be living with a grandmother or aunt. They may even be cared for by an older sibling as there are 15,000 households led by children.
Swazi children must pay for their primary and high school education. College education is paid for by the government. To attend school, families must purchase the school uniform, black school shoes, textbooks, and school supplies. Thousands of children do not get the opportunity to go to school. Many families sacrifice all that they have by working jobs in other cities or countries to pay for their children’s education. The Swazi government just offered free education for grades 1 and 2 this year. While this is an excellent start, they do not have enough teachers or schools to accept everyone who came on registration day. Many were turned away.
There are Gogos (grandmothers) who have lost their children to AIDS and are caring for multiple grandchildren. There are pastors’ families caring for additional vulnerable children from their community in their homes. Many of these pastors cannot afford to send their own children to school. Some pastors have to choose which of their children they can send to school since they cannot afford to send them all. It is a terrible decision to have to make.
The Plan: Currently, we are working on three plans to help children in Swaziland:
BFC Kids are working on other ways to help with funds for needed food and shoes.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Chapels —The last three GO Teams organized a Vacation Bible School for 600 to 800 children per team. The VBS is held in partnership with a local school, church, and community and provides times of singing, scripture memorization, a Bible story, crafts, and sports. The united message through it all is about Jesus and his desire for a personal relationship with each child.
The March 2010 team was given the opportunity to speak at a chapel for the entire student body
of 700 to 1,000 children. Time was given for singing, testimonies and a short sermon encouraging children to follow after Christ.
Child Development Centres (CDC)—Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) has currently established Child Development Centres in 12 African countries. This new ministry concept was shared with church leaders in Swaziland at an April 2010 conference led by NCM for Swazi consideration.
CDC’s are located in Nazarene churches. These churches identify 50 of the neediest children in their community. They open their building every afternoon so the children can be tutored and encouraged in five holistic areas; spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional and physical.
BFC stands ready and willing to enter a child sponsorship program through these new NCM Child Development Centres. Be watching for more details for the launch of this new ministry.