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The Kukhany'Okusha Zion Church (KZC) has been a partner church with Global Ministries since 1982. Actively involved in church building projects, preschool education, children’s programs, and extensive HIV/AIDS education programs within congregations, KZC has established an independent, registered NGO as a subsidiary of KZC to do specific outreach to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), a core ministry of the church. This organization, Kukhany’Okusha Cares (KC), has taken a proactive approach to meeting the need for Neighborhood Care Points (NCPs), serving rural communities in Swaziland. Through its relationship with the Council of Swaziland Churches (the only Zionist Church that holds membership), KZC through Kukhany’Okusha Cares aspires to operate NCPs to the UNICEF standards, and is motivating other churches in Swaziland to do the same.
Swaziland is a monarchy and its traditional culture is very important. Currently the country is experiencing an economic crisis; both the unemployment rate and the rate of HIV infection are high in Swaziland--some estimates put both between 40-50 percent. These rates also are reflected within the membership of the KZC. In establishing Kukhany’Okusha Cares in late 2010, KZC is continuing its long-standing tradition of serving the poor communities where its churches are located, in rural areas that are especially impoverished.
KZC, through KC, runs eight Neighborhood Care Points, serving over 650 children per month, the majority of who are hungry on a regular basis. At these eight NCPs, one nutrition-filled meal a day is served, five to six days each week. Monthly delivery rounds are made to each of the eight Neighborhood Care Points, using the project vehicle, by the Assistant Coordinator/Driver and the Program Coordinator. Food is purchased from the local bulk supplier who has the best price - ground maize (mealie meal), soup powder, beans, and cooking oil are the core foods purchased. Occasionally salt, sugar, and soap are also given, if the budget allows. Food is delivered for the month, then stored on each site in a locked space, managed by the volunteer caregivers, who are cooks and teachers, trained by UNICEF on care point management. Meals are cooked five-six days a week, once a day, serving 30 to 200 children (under 18) at each Care Point.
At four of the eight, NCPs, the church also operates a basic pre-school education program, with teachers/caregivers who have been trained by UNICEF.
At two of the Care Points, land has been donated for farming projects (five hectors at one site, four smaller plots at the other). Plans are being made to farm the food, to feed the children with the bulk of the crop, and sell the remaining food, to be able to pay the farm workers a basic wage and, hopefully, the volunteer caregivers. Ideally, each Care Point also will have a vegetable garden to supply additional nutrition for the children's meals and the remaining vegetables can be sold locally for additional income. A long term goal is also to secure a tractor for farming.
The biggest challenge for these efforts is that as the meal provided at each NCP has become stable and reliable, the number of children needing to be served by the NCPs increases. This proves to be a growing challenge to meet the expanding needs of each NCP.
Gifts of any size are welcome for the support of the KZC - KC Neighborhood Care Point food and education program.
To learn about the Indiana and Kentucky Disciples connection to this project, click here: http://globalministries.org/give/donor-stories/fcc-shelbyville.html
Some of the NCP’s like Mgazini and Mjoli are still trying to finish their structures and are struggling to get the needed funds to complete these structures. At Mthombe, the cornfields have been harvested and, since no storage is available, the project directors are discussing food storage options with them. Moreover, the NCPcaregivers continue to request NCP uniforms (instead of them using their own clothes).
Since the NCPs are trying to build up new projects, brainstorming continues on which sort of efforts will be successful for each NCP. It is hoped that these new projects will bring development to each NCP and to the communities where each NCP is located. These projects will be income-generating and will require special attention and planning.
It was a joyful day at Bhiliya when surveyors of their borehole came in to measure and plot a place where the borehole will be located. One of the caregivers at Bhiliay (Makhanya) cried loudly in joy, shouting words praising God and dancing all over the yard. The people of Bhiliya have been longing for this borehole for some time. They thank God so much for hearing and answering their prayers at last. The painful thing, however, is that no water was found after so much drilling. Alternatives are being sought at this time.