Aphiwe walking with Jessie Bohannon
By Simbarashe L. Manyeruke & Clara Mahlalela
Aphiwe is a 3-year-old girl that’s lives with her grandmother in Section 19 of Vuvulane district, deep inside the lowveld sugar plantations. With no electrical power in their dwellings, villagers use firewood to make meals and also warm themselves during the winter months when the temperatures plummet to unbearable levels. But one day a normal meal preparation routine would leave the little girl’s face severely burnt.
Sometime in June 2019 after a long day of playing with her little friends on a dusty compound of Section 19, Aphiwe was called by grandma into the edladleni, a small stick and mud hut used as a kitchen in rural Eswatini. By the time she got into the hut granny had already started the fire and supper was boiling in the pot.
While the cooking continued granny would discover that she was missing an important ingredient for the meal and dashed to the main house leaving Aphiwe all by herself. But while she was in the house granny heard a sharp cry from the edladleni. Rushing back, she found young Aphiwe rolling on the ground in agony having fallen from where she was seated at the edge of the fireplace. The hot coals burnt the edge of her right eye down to the cheek.
The ill-prepared grandma immediately sought help from neighbours but to no avail. Without transport to ferry Aphiwe to the nearest health centre granny summoned all her first aid skills in order to help her granddaughter. But unfortunately she ended up using wrong substances something that made Aphiwe’s situation worse. The night proved to be the longest in history for both granny and Aphiwe as the little girl cried uncontrollably only for her to go quiet in the early hours of the morning because she no longer had any power to cry.
However, the new day would bring good news for the toddler and her guardian. The Kudvumisa team visited the community as part of the Days for Girls initiative where they distributed sanitary wear to girls. When granny saw the angels sent by God she rushed to the CHIPS car with the child on her back.
Tema, a nurse with Kudvumisa, together with two HTS counselors dropped everything they were doing and attended to Aphiwe. Upon examining the wound it was it was found to be only a first degree burn which was good news. Soon after being treated the young girl was seen walking around hand-in-hand with Jessie Bohannon, the nurses’ coordinator for CHIPS. From the young girl’s face it was clear that she knew that she was on her way to recovery.
Two days later the CHIPS team passed through Section 19 in order to see the young girl’s progress and found out that she was feeling much better. Aphiwe’s grandmother couldn’t hide her joy as she chatted with the CHIPS’ staff. “Thank you so much CHIPS .I don't know what I would have done without your help,” said the relieved gogo with tears of joy rolling down her cheeks.
And in September 2019 CHIPS staff would again pay the little girl a visit. By the grace of God the young girl had zero signs of having been burnt on the face. Her skin was smooth with no blemishes a signal that she was fully healed!
Although CHIPS managed to attend to Aphiwe, the organization is unable to provide the level of assistance it has in mind due to financial constraints. Instead of only looking at inflows of funds the organization also continues to monitor its running costs with the hope of saving where possible. And one area that has been identified for long term cost saving is electrical power at the Maphiveni clinic. If the facility was to be powered via solar energy then the money currently being used to pay for electricity could be channeled toward the organization’s core business of going into the communities to provide health care service.
Besides cutting on costs, solar power will also guarantee continuous and reliable power for the clinic given the fact that hydropower supply is not that stable in many African countries. For instance, should there be a power load shedding today at Maphiveni, it goes without saying that the clinic’s operations will be affected. Therefore solar is the way to go!
Young Aphiwe receiving new clothes