Seeing the real effects of poverty through the faces of children can leave even the strongest of us teary-eyed. The depth of destitution in our rural communities tells us that efforts to mitigate this ugly state of affairs can never be too much. Every little effort counts. That is what has driven SPTC staff to dig deeper in their heart of hearts over the years, and have made it a habit to trek down to KaShewula to visit plus, minus 1 500 children, who have no definite next meal to speak of. Their tattered, if not skimpy, clothing tells a thousand tales about their situation. Many of them are orphaned, some because of HIV/Aids. Poverty is the common blanket they all wear.
Giving a child a balanced meal for a lone day in a year does not do much to change her life. Yet seeing her eyes light up, her lips crack into a smile gives you hope. SPTC staff - making use of money from their pockets and help from the corporation's management and invaluable donations from companies, such as Mr Bread and SwaziCan - has been providing this Christmas lunch to this children for so many years that it has become a tradition. The tranquilising jazz sounds rendered by our own music band, Bachumanisi, was the cherry on top.
SPTC staff also donated clothing to the children. The keenness that the employees display towards this noble venture is explained by what they call the "Loaf Run". On the Friday before the event, each staff member is encouraged bring to work a loaf of bread. Step into the SPTC reception area on this day and be greeted by an area awash with bread. All this bread, and later the rice, the chicken, the beef, the juice and the fruit salad, yielded 1 500 happy smiles at the Shewula Community Centre on Saturday. The clothing has yet to produce more, lasting smiles in the Lubombo rolling hills.