Their visits to the southern region of Africa were very special to the Wilms family. For this reason in their bequest will they decided to help the children and families in need in Mbabane, Swaziland by financially supporting an SOS family home.
Patricia and her SOS family are very grateful for the support of the Wilms. She is very proud of the sign which hangs in her home honouring their generosity.
SOS Children’s Village Mbabane was opened in 1989 and the first children moved into their homes. Very shortly thereafter, an SOS kindergarten, elementary and secondary school opened in the area providing the opportunity for education not previously realized for the community.
An SOS medical centre was opened in 1997 and into which was merged a Social Centre providing support for families in the area, including Emergency relief during the floods of 2000.
The Family Support Programs run through the Social Centre to provide food assistance, educational scholarships, literacy classes, renovation of shelters, individual and communal food production and other income generating activities.
The SOS family strengthening program and medical centre in Mbabane, Swaziland, are community projects that are valued by the Swazis.
Ruth and Glenn Wilms cared about the children of southern Africa…you too can continue their legacy of love.
Success in Community Projects
The eldest of four siblings, Gabsile, was responsible for caring for her chronically ill mother and younger siblings. The family's only source of income was from the mother's job. "When mama became ill, she lost her job and we had no money for food," said Gabsile.
The children became desperate and went hungry, but they had nowhere to turn. All five children had to drop out of school and as their living situation deteriorated even further they began to eat anything they could lay their hands on.
It was in this bleak situation that the SOS Family Strengthening Program found the family. The family was provided with emergency food parcels and the children were registered at school again and were given uniforms and some books. Gabsile, who went into form 4 at a neighbouring school, excelled. She completed high school with very good results and was accepted into the University of Swaziland. There, she studied for a Bachelor's Degree in Humanities and graduated last year.
Gabsile is now hoping to get a teaching post from the Ministry of Education and is temporarily teaching at a school in Pigg Peak, north of Swaziland.
At home Gabsile continues to look after her mother and helps her sisters a lot with their school work. She helps around the house and pays for the home expenses.
SOS Medical Centre Mbabane
The centre opens its doors at 8 a.m. every morning for patients to receive treatment. Each day the nurse prepares for her day before seeing her first patient. Over the past year the clinic has seen an increase in patients seeking medical attention. The medical centre mainly assists mothers and children. Some patients travel from the other side of the country to the Mbabane clinic as it is known as a place where they can receive good health care.
One older lady came all the way from the far east of Swaziland. She travelled over two and a half hours to Mbabane. "I brought all my medical records from other clinics and I travelled the distance because I feel more comfortable and cared for by the SOS Children's Village nurse than anywhere else," she said.
One patient, who was unemployed and had no money to pay for medical care, was seen by the SOS nurse and because she felt at ease with the nurse she told her about her financial worries. She said she was losing hope of ever finding a way to generate an income. The nurse listened to her story, advised the patient to be positive and said that things would work out. Today this lady makes and sells Swazi mats in Manzini. "I am grateful to the SOS nurse. Without her encouragement I never would have had the courage to start my own small business. She listened to my problems and really cared about me."
It is because of this sense of caring and word of mouth that the SOS Medical Centre is growing on a daily basis. "We are here to help people physically," said the SOS Children's Village nurse, "but, if we can help them psychologically and emotionally as well, then we are happy."
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