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Swaziland trip February 2012

We have just returned from another amazing and productive trip to our projects ....... despite me breaking my foot one week prior to departure!

Polly, our original piggy, gave birth to 8 healthy, shiny piglets - 4 boys and 4 girls who will be invaluable in sustaining The Busisiwe Feeding Program. In addition, the remaining sow from Polly's first litter is also now pregnant and will give birth around May time. Our 4 maize fields are flourishing, as are the bean and potato fields and we look forward to our harvest in March, following which, we will replant the vegetable garden to ensure a constant supply of food for our orphaned and vulnerable children.

Angus Lawson's Community Primary School is growing both in the number of pupils and the addition of an admin block and the teacher's toilet. The school also now benefits from electricity - a huge leap forwards! The teachers were keen to tell us that our children, who graduated from Mungo's pre-school last year, stand out particularly in English and writing skills. They feel Mungo's is a good pre-school which teaches essential skills and enables our children to settle in quickly and happily. This makes us VERY proud!

Mungo's pre-school has started the new academic year with some old faces and even more new ones! We currently have 17 children on the roll and more due to start in term two. Nelsiwe has also completed her early years teaching certificate and is now competently and confidently leading Mungo's. She has been joined this year by a second qualified early years teacher Happy - both in name and nature - we are delighted to welcome her to the family!

Whilst there the pre-school was fenced and security gates installed ensuring that no stray animals or people will be able to endanger our children. New play equipment was purchased and old revamped. The result is safe, colourful, welcoming building fully equipped and staffed.

The children were also treated to their first ever outing - a visit to the cinema to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks" followed by pizza and ice lollies. Not only had most of the children never been to town before, let alone the cinema, but it was a new experience for our teachers too! Everyone had a lovely day and we returned some very tired but happy children to their parents some of whom complained they'd never had pizza in their lives! We look forward to more outings in the future.

The Betty Friend Home of Hope has been completely redecorated inside and out and Robert worked very hard to ensure it was finished before our departure. After community discussions we also placed 3 vulnerable children with extended family members to ensure their safety and AVSF will provide additional support with school,clothes and food.

Hamsey Rangers FC continue to train daily and have now been joined by Guildford and Carshalton Dragons. Despite adverse weather conditions we still managed to complete a tournament followed by an after party which all our children enjoyed. The most amazing news is that all the teams and coaches decided to be HIV tested and ALL are negative. This, statistically, is incredible and makes us all the more determined to develop the sports project to maintain our children's health and reach as many as possible to identify "risky" behaviour and implement change at an early stage. We are currently collecting more kits and boots whilst seeking further funding to build the community centre on our donated land.

Our project manager Senzo has worked very hard for his community and AVSF for the last 10 years so we are delighted to give something back to him and are now sponsoring him through a 2 year heavy plant mechanics course at a local technical college. He has given his time freely but now has a wife, child and 4 extended family members to support so we feel the time has come to assist him in this by enabling him to get a qualification and thereby bring a much needed income into the household.

We'd like to thank you all for your continued support, without which, none of this would be possible and we look forward to our next trip.

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