Offering hope to those needing a little hand up
I already mentioned Operation Hope in my previous blog when looking at Situation Swaziland but I really need to dedicate more words and passion to the work of Operation Hope.
I was fortunate to spend a few days with the Operation Hope team on the ground in the communities around Siteki, Swaziland.
Soon after arriving on my first day in Siteki the Operation Team and I took off to meet with families and communities that they work with in the rural areas.
Our first stop from leaving Siteki was to inspect a new one-room house that had been built for a grandmother (Gogo) who was living in a stick and stone hut with gaping holes in the walls and roof.
The new home not only offered a dry, warm and safe place to stay but had also put a beaming smile on the old woman who had never experienced such luxury probably in her entire life – just four walls and roof!
In addition a hygienic pit latrine was being completed as we were there. A warm farewell from Gogo and also the local builders who were very happy to be a part of this process as well as supporting their livelihood.
See more on their Build-it page: http://operationhopeinc.org.au/build-it/
The second stop was to drop off a mealy-meal – a survival package of 25kg of maize flour, a bottle of cooking oil, soup mix, sugar and a large stick of soap. In general, food aid is not the best approach to development as we prefer to teach a man (especially a woman) how to fish than to give them a fish but in this case and the 6 other families who receive this assistance you can see there is no other solution and people just need food in their stomachs to be able to have access and opportunity to other things in their life.
These two situations have a story to tell not just of these families but a familiar story for many communities throughout Swaziland and Africa.
This is then exacerbated by the AIDS epidemic that critically swept through Africa and particularly Swaziland. The mealy-meal mother/grandmother is one of those who lives the effects of HIV/AIDS on a daily basis as she now provides for 9 children as her daughter and many others from her family have passed away from AIDS. The children in this one guardian family were loved and cared for but they wore beaming smiles as they returned home from school to see friends, Operation Hope, knowing they were going to have at least one meal a day in their tummies for the coming month. They also spoke proudly of their achievements at school and sadly shared that in the six months Fi and Chris had been away their mother had passed and others in the community.
- their listen and learn approach to the needs of communities and families,
- the long-term commitment of working with people empowering them to empower themselves and
- working in collaboration with the local government and authorities so they are supporting and strengthening a system that needs to take on full responsibility for all their citizens into the future.
It was a privilege to see Operation Hope at work and the effects it has on the people and communities it is serving. We all hope that Operation Hope didn’t have to exist and that it won’t be needed in the future but at the moment it is providing hope to those who otherwise would not have access or opportunity to it.
To see the wonderful effective work of Operation Hope be sure to see the programs they are a part of:
- Operation Sister Act – producing and distributing sanitary pads to encourage girls to continue on to high school and not see them drop out of education due to embarrassment
- Operation Mealy-Meal – the survival packages for the most desperate in the region
- Operation Training – capacity building training on a range of topics and skills working towards securing livelihoods and active community participation
- Operation Build It – when and where possible building one or two-room dwellings for the most needy in communities
Fi and Chris are tireless founders and volunteers using their own limited financial contributions. They have great integration, respect and inclusion of the people they are serving in one of the best models of development I have seen across many countries and many programs. The local Operation Hope team is the main driving and powerful force and Fi and Chris do their utmost to support that leadership as they know best who the experts are in Swaziland and the rural communities.
- One obvious way is to donate to Operation Hope, and I can guarantee it will directly contribute to seeing more people and communities empowered to get themselves out of extreme poverty.
- Another is to learn more about what they do and to gain knowledge from a great development model.
- Also we can share this blog and the work of Operation Hope and help them in their advocacy to include and connect more people to the work they are doing.
For more please see the Operation Hope website and contact Fi http://operationhopeinc.org.au/contact-us/ If you think you might be able to help out in donations, fundraising, awareness raising or connecting them with others who can support the people of rural Siteki in Swaziland.