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.