The HIV/AIDS pandemic has been a major cause of deaths and ailments for a large proportion of Eswatini’s population in past years. Members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church noted the gruesome effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic which was wiping away our socio economically productive generation, resulting to the increase of orphaned and vulnerable children. This escalated the rate of poverty, homelessness and child-headed homes in the Kingdom. The church realised that affected children were deprived off their educational due to the lack of a funding source. Thus the Selulasandla Children’s Village was built.
Culturally,‘kwelulasandla’ or ‘stretching out a hand’ has always been a Swazi and African way of uplifting one of our own who needs assistance or help. This action is reciprocal in that both the victim and the rescuer reach out to ‘stretch a hand’ either to help or receive help.
A lot has been said about this Children’s Village over the years, but we will not tire to tell ‘our unique story’- for the sake of our Children. From the humble and indeed sad beginnings when there was no hope, when the country, continent and the globe’s dear parents, sons and daughters, our relatives were swept away by the cruel HIV/AIDS pandemic. It placed us all in a situation of hopelessness and despair that devastated many young and old in our society. Homesteads and families in Eswatini had become occupied by either very old helpless people or by young children whose parents and elder siblings had perished.
The vision that came from the church leadership brought life to the people that had lost hope. Under the wise leadership of Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the original dream by Collins Chapel to construct houses for leasehold purposes was then overtaken by the new AME church vision to serve and save the vulnerable and orphaned population, which took priority operation. The village was turned in, to identify the first four young inhabitants, Thandiwe, Tenanile, Machawe and Lombuso Xulu all from one family from eNdzingeni in the Piggs Peak area. The children’s mother had passed on, and left them with an old grandmother who was sickly, and had no income to survive on. Seeing that the mother had died,their father disappeared from the scene until today, and the grandmother has since passed on. The children have since exited the village and now reside independently in Mbabane.
Thandiwe the eldest, is recuperating from a heart related ailment, but occasional gets employed around the city, the second born,Tenanile is the ‘Village’s ambassador’ studying Air Hostess in New York, in the United States of America.Their brother, Machawe is studying Law and attached to a successful Attorneys’ business in Mbabane, and Lombuso is currently unemployed. Some of the former residents in the village are back to their original relatives; some employed and frequent the village on visits.
There is a constant link between the former Bishops of the Episcopal District as they communicate their feelings through the present Bishop
Stafford J.N Wicker. This is evidenced by the constant visits and donations from the Delta Sigma Sorority Inc which Bishop Vashti McKenzie is a member.
The Selulasandla Village is indebted to Bishop Stafford Wicker for the hard work he does in keeping the home going through his fund-raising drives he conducts away from here-and we only see the massive results and thank the Almighty for his works. He has, this year, recently bailed us out with over US$ 9000 and some US$ 900 in August to help solve the plumbing system which was turning into a health hazard. This assistance shall be highlighted in the financial report to come.