Africa Equip continues to support the blind and visually impaired young people of the Christ Worshippers Choir in Swaziland and we have received a message of “sincere gratitude and many thanks” from the choir leader Sikhumbuzo. This stated how “Africa Equip has lifted up the members of the choir, changing their lives, enabling them not to be fully dependent on the streets, and helping them to manage their finances”. As a consequence we have dedicated a significant part of this News Letter to an update from the choir.
Due to traditional beliefs discrimination against the disabled is still rife in Swaziland with 98 percent being unemployed. Despite a visit last year from the Deputy Prime Minister, who showed great concern for their plight, at present nothing has been done to improve things.
Update on the Christ Worshippers Choir
The choir are now well established in their rented home and are managing well. Most of them went down with flu recently, but are now all fully recovered.
Three of the boys, Simanga, Ntokozo and Mhlonishwa, (nicknamed Ncify), are still attending St Josephs, the only school in Swaziland that takes blind students. Resources for the blind are not good and a blind student’s progress is often slow resulting in them remaining at school much longer than sighted children. Ncify despite having good results in his mid term exams, failed his final year exam because the paper used a type of Braille he did not understand. St Josephs complained on his behalf but being an externally set paper nothing could be done. At 26 years of age Ncify has to repeat the year’s work! Ntokozo at 21 and Simanga at 23 are still in lower years at the school.
Students have to pay fees to attend school and Africa Equip helps with these payments.
Sikhumbuzo and Phetsile’s daughter Fundiswa is now four years old and has started attending pre-school. Following her eye operation, which Africa equip funded, her sight is much improved and she is now using glasses.
The choir have managed to create a small music room at their home but have to go to a studio and pay to make any recordings. They raise additional funds from singing in the streets and selling their new CD. This enables them to meet the running costs of their vehicle and pay the driver, as well as paying for clothes, toiletries, medical treatments and other needs of the choir members. The minibus will require a full service soon. Africa Equip pays their rent, facilities costs, and contributes to the food bill.
The choir is very pleased with their new album for 2011 entitled “Yona Iyamangalisa”. It has 10 tracks, with some powerful songs, English tracks such as “We praise the Lord” and “What a difference”, but also some lovely Swazi traditional gospel tracks such as the album title and “We are seeing Canaan” They plan to work very hard in promoting themselves to a competitive level by doing live performances and especially using the new album, which they are distributing in the local shops.
Africa Equip plans to prepare a CD album sleeve with details of all the songs, make copies of the CD and promote its sale in the UK in support of the choir and other Africa Equip projects. We hope to have the CD available by the end of May.
Parcels for Swaziland
We have sent more parcels to Colile who distributes them for us in the very poor region of the country where she works. These have included blankets crocheted for us by Dora Busby and warm jumpers knitted by Margaret Bolland. The picture shows one of the vulnerable children wearing a knitted jumper.
There were floods earlier in the year and since then there have been prolonged periods of drought which means that local food prices are increasing making things even more difficult for the many widows and orphans who live in the region.
Submitted advert for green book
In Nov 2011 Africa Equip, in conjunction with Hewell Prison, won a Green Organisation Green Apple award for our recycling Nautical Miles project. As a result we were invited to submit an advert for the Green Book they publish of award winners. The advert is the last page of this News Letter and describes the reason for the award as well as the objectives of Africa Equip.
Project appeals and funding proposals
The new Container Miles Appeal has so far raised £620 and we are hopeful that we shall soon be able to purchase the “shipping approved” container to transport the recycled equipment and other donated goods to Africa.
We have also identified a charitable trust, The Ulverscroft Foundation, that looks a possible funding source to enable us to complete and ship the recording studio to the Choir. We are considering making a grant application as the trust’s objective is to help the blind and visually impaired, and they do make grants for use overseas. Our plan, if the application is successful, is to site the studio at the Choir’s residence. The revenue they can generate as result should enable them to become much more self supporting.