In Swaziland, the statistics for poverty and related problems are staggering. The country has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the world – with one in every four people afflicted. There are more than 80,000 orphans and 15% of all households are headed by children. And more than 40% of the country’s one million people are reliant on food aid.
The lack of food causes a wide range of problems. Teachers report that their students complain of hunger and are unable to concentrate. And for those suffering from HIV/AIDS, medication is ineffective without a proper amount of food.
In a place with so little, it doesn't take much to lift the spirits of the Swaziland people. So it's not surprising that the impoverished community of Manzini is rejoicing at the gift of 75 metric tons of food to be distributed by Salesian Missions.
Funded through a Food for Peace grant awarded by USAID, the Salesians will establish new feeding programs for at-risk youth and marginalized families. It is estimated that 23,000 children and adults will directly benefit from this delivery of essential food.
"Many families are breaking up because of economic or health situations, and as a result, children are taking on responsibilities of adults," explains Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions. "Feeding programs are one way to encourage children to attend school, because for many of them, it will be their only meal of the day."
The food distribution program is just the latest example of a proud tradition of Salesian service in Manzini, Swaziland. Since the 1970s, we have operated schools in partnership with Manzini Youth Care, helping to keep orphaned boys off the streets. Today, with the promise of nutritious meals, they will have even more incentive to remain on the right path in life.
Your support of Salesian Missions makes it possible for us to turn important grants – like the one awarded by USAID – into effective programs that help tens of thousands of needy children and families. Thank you for sustaining the meaningful work on which so many people depend!