We stayed in a small stone house with cool tiled floors and sash windows and big double doors which opened onto a long veranda swathed in bougainvillea and bright hibiscus. High up on the side of a mountain, surrounded by the scent of pine and wild thyme, we overlooked a timeless rural landscape of citrus groves and tiny patchwork fields of corn interspersed with neat rows of every conceivable variety of vegetable know to man. In the distance the silver dome of a mosque glinted in the sunlight and the blue tiles of its slender minaret fought for dominance with an azure sky, its tip sharpened like an arrow pointing to heaven — the call to prayer resounding through the warm afternoons. Beyond that Homer’s ‘wine dark sea’ is laid out like a silken blue carpet to the far horizon.
But more of our Ottoman odyssey a bit later – first we head on down to Swaziland and Dr. Maithri to meet Gogo Ndzimandze and Gogo Alvina.
Many of you have reached out to help Dr. Maithri build his humanitarian bridges in that tiny mountain kingdom in Africa where thousands of children have been orphaned by the scourge of AIDS. In an attempt to raise funds to help these little ones, many of you have also bought limited edition prints of my artwork so that the proceeds can go directly to Dr. Maithri and his team in order to try and secure a brighter future for the orphans and their elderly carers. Dr. Maithri has been carefully weighing up how best to distribute the contributions that have been so gratefully received and wrote to me this morning to let us know who we will be helping.
I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am, and I just had to share the great news with all of you. Rather than blather on in my excitement, I give you Dr. Maithri’s email: (Gogo means ‘grandmother’ in siSwati.)
"........I have been having discussions with Matron Zwane and we've decided on the two Gogo's whom we feel are most in need.
The first is Gogo Ndzimandze whom I wrote about in the post 'Does It Matter Whose Child' here.
She has 14 children whom she has taken in following the deaths of all her 5 children.
All 14 sleep in one urine soaked room.
We went there this morning and found the children eating scraping the bottom of a pot of porridge cooked yesterday...
I am going to organise to interview all the children and take photos of each one... I will also go with them to the place where they collect water so you and your readers will have more of an idea of their daily lives...
Your gift of milli meal and eggs will be a blessing beyond words.
The second Gogo and family we'd like to support... is Gogo Alvina...
For decades Alvina has been the cleaning lady at the Good Shepherd hospital.
She sweeps and mops the floors of the wards...
Her 3 girls and 2 boys died of AIDS.
Leaving behind over 12 little kids for her to look after...
She retired from the hospital once... but found it impossible to care for the children...so she pleaded with the administration to keep her on as a contract worker...
Once again your gift will be a blessing beyond words. I will interview the family in the next few weeks, and send information/photos/stories.
I want to thank you once again from my heart for this gift of grace which you are bestowing upon these people.
Much love dearest friend,
I will be in touch soon,
So you see – thanks to all the wonderful, caring people who bought my art, Gogo Ndzimandze and Gogo Alvina will be able to give at least one meal a day to the 26 little ones who are in their collective care for the next year…and, hopefully, for even longer. I join Dr. Maithri in saying to those amazing people in our blog world, Siyabonga. Thank you.
Siyabonga to you, Tessa! And of course siyabonga to Maithri too. What a special human being. You introduced him to me, I must thank you for that as well.
I can't wait to hear all about Swaziland.
Many kisses and hugs from your grateful friend,
Reading about other people's lives in far flung places makes me quite spit with rage at people with $300 shoes......
How saintlike these grannies are.
Will send a little more money soon.
Timing is everything...I just returned from a lecture/slideshow of my friend and nurse who traveled to Noma bay and area. Helping where she could- the problems are many and imposible but a bit at a time can not hurt! Getting things done there requires patience and the ability to overcome frustration. Girls, young children and women bearing the brunt. It is going to be a slow go for this part of Africa, education, change of traditional cultural viewpoints (men)...Thank you so much for your help, for your care, for this poste. I will be sponsoring a girl student whose future is bleek but safe for now.
Welcome back from your wonderfully described odyssey. I look forward to reading more about that place. And Siyabonga to you and to our dear Dr. Maithri!!x x x
Welcome back. We're looking forward to your pictures and rich descriptions. Thanks for sharing Dr. Mithri's information.
Welcome back, Tessa! I can now thank you 'in person' for honoring me with the International Reach Out Award. My deepest thanks. I've displayed it proudly on my blog. I was delighted to read this e-mail from Dr. Maithri. When my painting arrives, I will hang 'Fish Market - Lake Victoria' right here near my computer to remind me of the people of Africa, and of course, of you. Looking forward to your stories and photographs.
Welcome back! What a beautiful iddyllic place. I am looking forward to reading your stories and I wonder what fabulous art comes out of this adventure?
Oh Welcome back dear Tessa! And yes Siyabonga to you and Maithri too.
I am wiping tears away now, for the Gogo's and children, that is beyond words. You are an angel. I always knew it.
I am so glad to hear you had a wonderful trip, i am so anxious to hear all about it. Your words paint pictures as pretty as your art. AND that photo is stunning.
much love to you,
Aaahh you are back! You have been so missed Tessa! I am glad you had a wonderful time. I am overwhelmed reading Maithri's letter. Grips you in the heart. Bless you and Maithri for all that you do for the children and people of Africa.
I did not realize you donated the proceeds of some of your art to maithri and coincidentally had just come here from reading his latest post....the mud puddle...it is so very sad.... it warms my heart knowing that , through him, my money goes where it is most needed....thank you for your generosity and for sharing your lovely work...
I also look forward to hearing about your fascinating trip!
welcome back, Tessa! looking forward to hearing your travel tales, and seeing your pictures.
Thanks for the update from Maithri - everybody else has said it all already, and I agree! x
Thanks so much for the report, Tessa - I didn't know that's where you were going! Eager to hear more about the trip and the people and to see the pictures.
But - one meal a day? - can't we do better? We have to send more money... I will be buying more art! if you're willing to keep providing it, but I feel guilty receiving/accepting your art for my/your contribution...
This is wonderful Tessa!
wow. tessa. coming here to visit you is raising my blood pressure. i could read your posts all day. you write so descriptively well. and then i think about your art, which you know i love. and then about your good works, which you know i admire. and then, then, i wish i could sit with you and have tea at sunset.
your comments on my blog just about raised me off my seat. thank you. i've found that some people just jump out in some special way and i think you may be one of those people for me.
it will be a wonderful indulgence when i am able to come back and leisurely read your posts....
Woot woot = Tessa your back.
Woot woot = So fantastic Maithri.
So happy you are back Tessa and in total Tessa style I love how you tell us about Maithri before all else.
Tessa, is that first picture on this post a photograph or painting? I so can't tell for sure, it looks like an awesome painting, so rich and just perfect.
Thank you, m'darlinks, thank you. I usually DREAD coming back here - like boarding school dread, y'know - but it's all better now after such a lovely welcome.
PS. June, just an early morning photo as we drove down to the village for a freshly baked loaf and some sweet, juicy oranges which taste like heaven probably does.
The second pic is the view from our friend's farm near Pigg's Peak in Swaziland.
Popping over to have a look-see at your blog and am met straight off with this inspiring post. It makes my blog seem very frivilous (It IS very frivilous and that's always been my intention: I rarely do serious but that doesn't mean I'm not serious in what I do).
Anyway, it's extraordinary what a big difference a little bit of money can make to other people's lives.
To semi-quote Arnie, I'll be back to your blog.
This is a wonderful story. Wow! Fantastic all the way around.
Love the beautiful pictures. I'm always amazed when I see pictures of mountain goats. They look so comfortable standing in precarious places.
Welcome home. And THANK YOU for all your good work. Thank you so much!
Welcome back and thank you so very much for all that you share here.
I very much enjoy my visits.
You and Dr Maithri have done a wonderful thing! Bless you, Tessa!
Here is the reality of Africa and here you and Maithri are, doing something so positive and constructive. I've always said, it begins on the ground, in one place, taking little steps, to change the world.
Tessa, is it possible to donate directly to this organization?
A blessing indeed.
siyagonga to you too tessa, and thanks for the wonderful award, i simply ADORE it, and such nice words you have said about me too. i like to think of myself as a 'bridge builder'...i like that a lot and will post it soon. what an amazing trip this must have been.and only someone like you could've 'seen' it like you did.
So this is where you were – gorgeous photos! Glad to hear your efforts have helped. My sister-in-law works on AIDS policy in Africa and China. There is a lot more work to do.
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