Learning Journey: The work done is but in the ground…

Learning Journey: The work done is but in the ground…

Date: March 26, 2020
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“Success is always the outcome of walking the talk” ~ Edmond Mbiaka

This past December the Kingdom of Eswatini experienced very high temperatures and my home area being in an arid area, we were literally sweating in our sleep. I developed rash and burns from the heat to an extent of requiring health care.

I was to take the family car to town and get medical services via my medical aid service, but something in me thought otherwise. The whole time I am advocating for better and friendly health care facilities especially regards SRHR, thus a thought came to me that I should #WalkInHerShoes experience and learn first-hand how it is to access health care in our rural areas.

For me it was just heat burns so I was fortunate to still be able to walk, others not so fortunate would require the assistance of a wheelbarrow or taxi that most cannot afford given the impoverished lifestyle our fellow brothers and sisters live on a daily basis.

Under extreme heat of about 45 degrees Celsius I started my journey to the clinic documenting on social media my experience.

Under this extreme heat I walked an hour to get to the clinic, though halfway I now had a second thought of calling home and get a car to fetch me but the thought of the young girls we encourage to use these health facilities do not have anyone to call thus my #WalkingInHerShoes mentality encouraged my soldiering on. At least I had my Mahewu to quench my thirst along the way, many in my area hardly afford even the R10 hospital fee thus the luxury of getting a drink for the way is a non-starter.

Along the journey I had to walk in the bushes for almost half the journey with no visible human being, but cows grazing along the way. I began to think about my security because if I were attacked, not the loudest scream would be heard by the nearest person (I was in the wilderness all by my own). I began to think about a young pregnant woman walking this same distance under this extreme heat, security risk and under this new world order that has women abuse and killings which the media reports on daily

Yes, the media has nothing to say about my rural home area except when one more child or woman is killed, mostly at the hands of men. The media never reports on the distances and security risks our young and old go through in order to access health care. Should a rape or killing happen, it is then that our media reports.

I took this journey, under these extreme conditions to make it a point that I know what I am talking about as an activist and have understanding and knowledge of what happens on the ground in order to roll out the programmes we do with though knowledge.

It is disturbing to learn that many of our comrades in the war against GBV would Total 0% in an examination with one question “What is Gender?” nonetheless their effort goes not unnoticed. The fight for equality is far wherein the drivers do not know the destination!.

Being away from the Kingdom a few years and learning how things are done outside the tiny kingdom, this past year has been a journey to reconcile my experience with knowledge of things as they happen on the ground. Though relearning the idiom “There is no hurry in Swaziland’’ still frustrates me to the soul (all meetings or gatherings never start in time in my beloved tiny kingdom).

When I came back I fully concentrated on perfecting my knowledge in all programmes and learnt a lot while assisting councils prepare for and roll out their SRHR campaigns.

All in all it has been an interesting year for me, with its own challenges, professional growth and above all a learning year.

Thandokuhle Dlamini, Eswatini Programme Officer

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