Eswatini: In the Midst of Adversity, Nomvula Maintains Hope

My Day by Nomvula

  • 5:00 AM – Household chores
  • 5:30 AM – Collect water (walking a mile in each direction)
  • 6:30 AM – Walk to school (1 ½ miles)
  • 7:00 AM – Classes begin

Before Nomvula even sits down for her first lesson, the 14-year-old has already done two hours of chores, including 3 ½ miles of walking. Her morning continues and she devotes herself to her studies. It gives her purpose … and it distracts her from the grumbling in her belly.

“I go to school hungry every morning,” she says. “It’s hard to sit through class, but I know that almost all of my classmates are feeling the same thing.”

Nomvula dreams of becoming a teacher, but focusing on an English lesson or following your math class is challenging when the last meal you ate was yesterday!

When we occasionally skip a meal, most of us do so with the certainty that the next meal isn’t too far away. Can you imagine going through an entire day filled with physical chores, long walks, and a commitment to study not knowing when you would eat next?

Can you imagine knowing no different, and knowing that nothing will likely change?

Nomvula’s mother died when she was just 2, and she now lives with her grandmother and five of her cousins in a tiny one-bedroom, mud-brick home. Her cousins have all been orphaned just like her, and every one of them has known nothing but a life of hunger.

Their grandmother works so hard to provide for them, but there is little she can do. The drought in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) has raged for years and no one knows when it will end. The drought has created a perfect, deadly storm. The family eats just one small meal a day.

We don’t share stories like Nomvula’s to shock you or to make you feel pity. Any one of us could have ended up in this situation if we happened to be born where she was born or were made to face the same circumstances her family faces.

We don’t know why God doesn’t send rain, but we know with certainty that He loves Nomvula and others like her—and He calls you and me to do whatever we can to help.

Nomvula and her grandmother have tried to grow corn, but with no rain the harvest is always very small. It lasts them only about two months—and that’s if they only eat it for supper.

Families in the area use the corn to make a porridge, and they are able to measure their conditions by the consistency of that porridge. The thinner it is, the worse the conditions. When asked how long it has been since her family had a nice, thick porridge, Nomvula just shook her head.

Her silence told us all we needed to know.

Matthew 10:42 records Jesus saying this, “I tell all of you with certainty, whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones … will never lose his reward” (ISV).

We can’t imagine a greater reward than knowing that a young girl was able to follow her calling and achieve her dream of being a teacher because you helped her when she needed it most!

There are so many others like Nomvula around the world. Each has their own calling and each is facing circumstances we can only imagine with inspiring strength.

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About ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended.

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