It’s definitely time I told you about our family’s plan to spend a year in Swaziland.
For those who don’t know us we are Nick (qualified GP and doctor in Public Health), Jenny (doctor in Obstetrics & Gynaecology), Noah (aged 7, obsessed with Lego, geography and animal habitats), Elsie (aged 4, likes a good sing song, chopping vegetables and anything pink) and Micah (aged 3 months, all about the milk and loves a good chuckle). We are massive Jesus-lovers and part of a wonderful community of people at Ivy Church. Right now we live in Manchester, UK. But not for long…
“So… Um… Where is it?”
It’s a teeny tiny country located in Southern Africa. I’m not gonna lie, I had to double check the map just to be sure. It has borders with Mozambique and South Africa. It’s seriously tiny – it takes about 2 hrs to drive across the width of Swaziland.
“What will you be doing?”
Nick will be taking up a post as the public health doctor for the region, helping lead projects related to HIV and TB. The post is part of a long term sustainable link with an academic public health department in the UK. He will be working out of a large district general hospital, and we’re hoping that we will be living on the grounds of the hospital. Jenny will initially be settling everyone in, likely be doing a bit of homeschooling… but anyone who knows her won’t be surprised when she ends up on the labour ward or helping run women’s health projects. Other than that, we have our eyes, ears and hearts wide open as to what we may be led into as we follow Jesus.
“So… what kind of place is it?”
Well, I’ve never been… so massive apologies to any Swazi experts who take issue with any of what follows, but here is what I’ve gleaned… It’s a tribal Kingdom where King Mswati III rules over around one million subjects. Classed as a lower middle-income country, 50% of the population live below the national poverty line and earn less than $2 per day. Common to many resource-poor countries, there is a massive disparity between urban and rural areas, with wealth concentrated in the cities and poverty prevalent in the subsistence agriculture economies of the rural areas.
Health stats are pretty poor. The country has the highest rates of HIV and TB in the world. HIV rates are rising, with nearly 30% of adults aged 15-49 infected in 2015. Life expectancy reached a peak of 59 yrs in 1990 before dropping to 49 yrs in 2014. The effect of the HIV epidemic means that 47% of the population is less than 15 years old, which has massive implications for social structures. Gender inequality also appears to be a problem as disproportionately women than men are infected with the virus.
We are told Swaziland is a very beautiful country. Noah’s checked it out on Google maps on the school Ipads and reckons it looks good. There are also plenty of snakes. And elephants. Let’s concentrate on the elephants.
“Right then… so are you mad? It can’t be safe to take three small kids somewhere like that?”
Quite possibly. But we are mainly excited. We feel that moving to Swaziland is something God has called us to do. As such, we expect it to be a brilliant adventure leading us closer to each other and closer to Him. That doesn’t meant that safety is a guarantee or that we don’t feel a degree of trepidation as we step out in faith, so we ask that you would pray for protection and wisdom for us as a family.
“Is there anything you need?”
- Please pray – if you can commit to pray for us on a regular basis please email email@example.com and let us know.
- Finances – Some of our expenses are met by Nick’s work, but most are not. If you can give, we would be hugely grateful as we are looking to raise around £5000 to cover costs for the year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how to give.
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