Our journey began in 2006, when Pastor Nelson Vilakati approached Pastors Angelo Juliani and Van Moore with a proposition. He had traveled half a day from Swaziland to Johannesburg, South Africa to speak with them. Pastor Vilakati shared the devastation that his country was experiencing and with tears in his eyes said to them, “This is what we need in Swaziland; we need a holistic approach that includes primary aid, clinics, and schools. Will you come help us?” Over the next few hours, stories of need mixed with the hope of a visionary.
Angelo and Van agreed to lead a team to Swaziland the following year. In the summer of 2007, a team of 50 Americans and South Africans arrived in Swaziland. Instead of using the team to serve his church, Pastor Vilakati sent the team to Madudula, a rural region with no schools or medical facilities. About 3,000 people inhabit the nearby homesteads, which are an hour walk from the nearest road. The team, aided by Pastor Vilakati’s church, erected a tent to house their clothing distribution, medical clinic, and nightly church service. After the team left, the tent continued to serve the community as a church.
The team returned to Philadelphia resolved to build a lasting partnership with Swazi Christian Ministries Church. Plans were made to build a medical clinic, school, well, and community center on a parcel of land given to the church at Madudula. In January 2008, we officially broke ground on the site. We provided a micro loan to a local man named Archie Ngwenya, who started a cinder block manufacturing business, which made the block we used. Over the summer, a grant from the Spano Foundation allowed us to begin work on the medical clinic.
In the summer, a team from Philadelphia once again made the 8,000 mile journey to Swaziland. They sent ahead of them a shipping container of full of clothing, coats, shoes, and medicine donated by the people of Philadelphia. The team ran medical clinics and distributed clothing throughout rural regions of the country.
In the spring of 2009, as work continued on the clinic, our well bore struck water. That summer the block work on the clinic building was completed. A grant from the Spano Foundation provided the initial funding for six classrooms.
Work began on the classrooms in winter of 2010. By the summer, all of the block work was completed on two of the classrooms. In the fall, we approved two more micro-loans; one for a chicken farm and one for a piggery.
In 2011, we poured concrete floors in three of the classrooms. Over the summer all of the block work was completed on the remaining 4 classrooms. In the fall, work began on the classroom roofs.
The roofs for all six classrooms were finished in the winter of 2012. Power lines finally arrived at the Madudula building site in the spring. The buildings were wired for electricity and lights. The well received an electric pump and filter. In the fall, we began the process of getting on the government budget in order to open our school in January 2013. The Ministry of Education informed us that the money was already allocated. They asked us to open for grades 1-3 in January of 2013.
The clinic building we re-purposed for the school. We built four new toilets and furnished 3 of the classrooms.
On January 22, 2013 the school in Madudula opened its doors to 150 students in grades 1-3.
Today the primary school is finished, with classrooms for grades 1-7, plus a library and faculty housing. Preliminary plans are in place to expand the school to include a high school.
We continue to send a shipping container of clothing and medicine every summer to meet our team. We have reserved 60 plane tickets for this summer’s trip. If you are interested in joining us, please send us an email.