Thursday, September 1, 2011

August 31: Team Leader's Final Thoughts...

It has been another amazing trip to Swaziland, sharing the experience with 16 new friends! I can’t help but remember a story from one of last year’s participants, which sums up our trip this year too:

A young boy is frantically throwing stranded starfish into the ocean, before they are killed by the sun. A skeptical old man walks by and says, “You’re wasting your time, as you’ll never save them all. In the end your efforts won’t make a difference.” The boy thought for a moment, then picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. He then turned around and said to the man, “It made a difference to that one!”

Our group’s efforts have not solved the desperate conditions for the Swazi people, who are so warm proud, and welcoming! We have made a difference for some! We have dug and planted three large gardens, we have introduced cold frames so that the poor do not have to buy expensive seedlings. We have introduced composting, and have left four constructed boxes with instructional information, so that they don’t have to buy fertilizer. We have provided propane for the next year so that one preschool can provide two meals a day, every school day! Currently, the Mothers cook the meals in the open on a wood burning fire pit, so can’t cook if it rains. We have provided hoses to each of the gardens, so that water doesn’t have to be transported by hand. We have left a huge amount of personally donated items, such as school supplies, clothing, frisbees, skipping ropes, soccer uniforms and balls. Individuals bought a rain barrel, the materials for the compost boxes, paid for a young rural girl to enroll in an accounting program, and taken a very ill family for critical medical attention.

Most importantly we have constructed a preschool classroom. This group was amazing, as only the foundations were up when we arrived. Now there are walls, a roof, plastered interior walls, a white board for the teacher, plus a mural that we signed and painted – linking Swaziland (Execution Rock) and Canada (an inukshuk). In the next few days they will have the windows and doors in place. It will make a difference for next and future year’s students.

There have been challenges and obstacles, but this group overcame them all.

As I personally didn’t know any of the ASK group, before we left Canada I would like to thank them for including me in the group, which enabled me to return to Swaziland again this year. I hope that like last year’s group, they will join me again on future projects to Swaziland…….I will be returning again next July, when once again “we can do what we can do!”

Rob Plowright
DWC Team Leader  

Swaziland 2011

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