WOW! blog tour: Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered
June 21, 2010 in Book Club Possibility, Elementary Educators, Fighting world poverty, Half the Sky, High School Teachers, Middle School Teachers, multicultural books, Neas Linda Rhinehart, Preschool to 1st grade teachers Tags: Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered, Linda Rhinehart Neas, Women of Swaziland, WOW! blog tour
I am so happy to welcome, Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, on her WOW! blog tour. Linda has written the amazing poetry book, Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered. This book of poetry is inspired by the people of Swaziland and the work of Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke, an Australian physician and poet who spends time working with the people of Swaziland. The poems illustrate the poverty and need in Swaziland but also the love and dignity of this family oriented culture. All of the profits of this book will go to Possible Dreams International to help the peoples of Swaziland. You can preview and purchase the book here.
***Linda has written a terrific post for my blog today. And anyone who leaves a question or comment for Linda will be entered for a chance to win a copy of her book.
Love Story: The Women of Swaziland
by Linda Rhinehart Neas
When he (Dr. Goonetilleke) met Gogo Ida, her remaining daughter had just given birth to a second child. The daughter’s first child, a three-year old is named Nothando, which means “Love.”
Love is the capital that Gogo Ida, nearly seventy, exists on daily. Love for her daughter dying, like her other children, of AIDS; love for the grandchildren, which are now in her care; love for God to whom she prays in the mud hut with holes in the walls where snakes and rats torment the children. Her prayers are simple – protection from the cold, food for the children, a better future for her grandchildren.
Love has brought Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke and the other members of Possible Dreams International (PDI) to Swaziland. Love supports the work they do to help bring the essentials to people devastated by disease and poverty. Love surrounds Gogo Ida and the thousands of Gogos (grandmothers) of Swaziland as they bury their beloved children and care for their orphaned grandchildren.
The Love that fuels Gogo Ida’s (pictured here) hope for a better future for her grandchildren, the dream of all Gogos in Swaziland, which has the highest percentage of HIV infected population in the world, has brought her a new home, built by members of her community with the aid of PDI. The home has the luxury of strong walls, a corrugated roof, a door and windows. It will protect her grandchildren from the varmints that sneak in at night trying to rob her of what little food she has and threatening her grandchildren.
Just before Dr. Maithri leaves Gogo Ida’s home, she receives the first parcel of her supplemental food – Mealie meal, a porridge-based product that is the staple of the Swazi diet, 60 eggs, sugar and beans. Gogo Ida was elated, singing and dancing for joy. “Last night, every morsel of food that we have was gone. Now the children can eat!”
Dr. Maithri lowered his head as tears ran down his face. Love wrapped its arms around Gogo Ida and her family, bringing Light into her humble home.
Being a woman in Swaziland isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but it might as well be. In 2009, the average life expectancy in Swaziland was 37. Approximately 42% of the pregnant women in the country were HIV positive. Nearly 185,000 of the one million people living there are infected. However, AIDS is not the only disease ravaging the lives of women in Swaziland.
Struggling in a country where poverty is the norm, infectious diseases run rampant. Women, mostly young girls and Gogos, spend a huge part of the day collecting water that is filthy and contaminated with bacteria and pollutants. They then struggle to cook food, wash and bathe in this water. Boiling doesn’t remove the contaminants. Lack of education, lack of medical care creates a vicious cycle of poverty, disease, and death.
The good news is that through initiatives like Possible Dreams International, women, children, and entire communities are getting education, are receiving medical care and are beginning to live healthier, happier lives. Change takes time, money and love.
In the words of Dr. Maithri, “Love the world into change.” It is my hope that Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered, my work of Love, will add much needed fuel to creating this change.