I had been looking forward to the distribution trip for the 'Gift Boxes' for the past few months & the day that I got on the plane to travel to the royal Kingdom of Swaziland, I was full of excitement. As we landed in South Africa early on Sunday morning, myself and the group of volunteers were excited to arrive at our destination and as we travelled by minibus to Swaziland the country seemed so beautiful with panoramic views that the poverty really didn't seem quite so bad. With a small population of around £1.4 million, Swaziland is located next to South Africa, and whilst not a large country, it boasts a rich and illustrious culture amidst a backdrop of amazing views.
As we headed out on the first day of the distribution to Mphumakudze Primary School in the Lubombo region, my perception of Swaziland soon changed as the poverty appeared to increase the higher up into the rural areas we travelled. As we travelled further away from the capital city of Manzini, we drove onto red dirt roads and passed by small homesteads where children greeted us with cheery waves until we arrived at our first destination. The very first experience of sorting and handing out the gift boxes is something I will never forget, as we drove into the school the children shyly looked as us strangers in a foreign land, before their teachers loudly instructed each class to begin lining up in order to come and collect their gift boxes.
As the volunteering team handed out the boxes to the children, they were at first unsure of what was inside the brown ADRA boxes, but when each child received their box, they opened it and leaps of joy could be heard from around the school as children dug around in their boxes as if they were discovering their very own hidden treasure!
That first school resonated with me and after we handed out the last box in that school, I walked around looking at the different groups of children, their joy of receiving a gift was so infectious I found myself smiling and grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day. One young girl in particular was so happy to have received a pink skirt she danced around her classroom showing her friends. It was then that it hit me what Christ meant when he said 'whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me'. I was incredibly blessed to travel to Swaziland, but the children in the Kingdom of Swaziland blessed me so much more.
The remainder of the trip was filled with similar days as we travelled from school to school, and were fortunate enough to visit an orphanage in the city towards the end of our trip. One of the saddest things during the trip was when we ran out of 11-14 gift boxes as we simply didn't have any more give, and so I ask you to give as generously as you can - because the children need your gifts. They act as reminders to them that they serve a God who is great and loves them beyond anything they can understand.