It’s been a while.
My time has been totally taken up with trying to run a business and keep the Cirque going; unfortunately to the detriment of my blogging. Trying to get back into regular writing and it just so happens I have something Very Exciting to write about.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter or befriend me on Facebook will know that I am a tireless and passionate supporter of Positive Women, a charity working to improve the quality of life for persons in Swaziland affected by HIV/AIDS and TB, particularly women and children. Working with a shoestring budget and almost totally dependent on international aid, Positive Woman runs women’s self-help programmes, neighbourhood care points for orphans, and mobile clinics.
In August 2011 I visited the headquarters of Swaziland for Positive Living (SWAPOL), Positive Women’s African partner organisation. I recently caught up with Kathryn Llewellyn, the founder and chief advocate for Positive Women. Kathryn updated me on what current challenges the charity is facing.
“2012 was a difficult year for Positive Women. The charity depends heavily on international aid for survival, primarily from the Global Fund. Last year the money never materialised. SWAPOL was expecting 1 million Rand (98,000 USD) but the aid didn’t come through. The result was lots of homeless children, and stunted growth.”
Not surprisingly, Positive Women found it difficult to sustain some of their ventures, in particular the neighbourhood care points. Out of 100 centres, 45 have a regular food supply. The rest receive food sporadically, yet the children still come because they feel protected there.
SWAPOL had to release staff to cut costs. The organisation is more streamlined now but not necessarily with the right resources. SWAPOL is currently trying to secure funds for organisational development and training. This will enable the organisation to offer staff 3 year contracts and maintain continuity in their programmes. In the long-term SWAPOL hopes to set up more nutrition gardens and maize farms so that the most vulnerable in Swazi society can learn to provide for themselves while establishing food security.
Swaziland cannot depend on international aid to solve its social problems. The country is classed as “middle-income” by the United Nations and therefore ineligible for many funding programmes. This is devastating for a country with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the world (26%) and an average life expectancy of 50 years old. In short, the situation in Swaziland is grim. But not hopeless.
Kathryn Llewellyn is determined to make a difference and quit her fulltime job to focus on Positive Women. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. This year Kathryn was nominated for an Ogunte Women’s Social Leadership Award
Last month Positive Women launched the Just A Million Campaign. The premise is simple – they want one million people to do one thing that will make a difference and help the people of Swaziland. I’m ridiculously excited about this campaign because two of my nearest and dearest have decided to do a Very Brave Thing to raise money for Positive Women.
During the week of 27th July to 3rd August 2013, my husband and his younger brother are going to do a sponsored climb of the highest mountains in Finland (Haldi, 1425m) and Sweden (Kebnekaise, 2111m). Both mountains are situated over 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle and will involve significant treks to reach. I still can’t get my head around the sheer insanity of it, but they are committed to the venture and hope to raise £2000 for Positive Women in the process.
I’m shamelessly urging you to become one of the million by supporting my husband and making a donation here. (For obvious reasons I want the climb to be a success and my spouse to return in one piece. It would mess up my carpool arrangements if he didn’t)
Every donation, no matter how small, will help. All it takes is one action.
Read about the climb here:
Do what you can to publicise this venture by sharing this post and encouraging others to do the same.
One million people. One million actions. A country (population 1 million) saved.