Tanya Condello has made helping the children of Bulembu her mission. She spent time in the region and soon found out that Swaziland has the highest incidence of HIV in the world leaving almost all children with only one parent who must try and provide for the family. With no other support/care system these parents have no choice but to leave the little ones home alone during the workday.
“My friend Lee-Ann McFarlane, doing missionary work, recognized the critical need to provide care for the children who were left alone during the day when the parent went to work”, Tanya tells me during the interview, “Lee-Ann began her Christian mission, the EnduduZweni Child Care Center, in March 2006. When the doors opened, 30 children (ages 2-6) were provided with a safe place to spend the day. The children were fed three meals during their 5-6 hours stay. They enjoyed art classes, story time, dressing up, music and building with Legos, all while learning the difficult job of 'working and playing well with others'.”
A quote from Lee-Ann's latest newsletter states: "Up to 70 children, many who come from situations of neglect and vulnerability come to the center each day. My heart's goal is to make sure that these little people are more than cared for; that they experience love and hope and a place where their basic needs can be met."
Since the center closed, many of the children who graduated from the child center are now attending the "big kids' school", the Bulembu Christian Academy (BCA). This is a fee paying private school with a student to teacher ratio of 20:1 instead of the 60:1 ratio of the local village schools. Tanya decided to team up with Lee-Ann and turn her hobby of jewelry making into a worthy cause.
Jewlsbytanya has been a successful charity project for several years and continues to support the Bulembu Christian Academy (BCA). “All of the profits go directly towards paying the tuition for ten children, whom my friend Jean Lederer and I now sponsor,” she adds.
Tanya has toured the facilities of BCA. She sat in the classroom with the children she supports, and listened to their studies. She looked at their homework and has spoken with their teachers. More importantly, she has met most of their parents whose gratitude is overwhelming for the help they receive for this educational opportunity. She also receives twice yearly updates complete with report cards and photos to keep abreast of how her "kiddos" are progressing and growing. Each dollar makes a difference in the lives of these children.
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela