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Naomi Gule, Swaziland "I am a cook and caregiver"

[Swaziland] Naomi Gule in her vegetable garden. IRIN
Naomi Gule in her vegetable garden.

Swaziland's Neighbourhood Care Points provides the growing population of orphans and vulnerable children with nutritional as well as emotional and educational help. IRIN spoke to Naomi Gule in Bhunya, an hour's drive south of the capital, Mbabane.

"I am a cook and caregiver at the Neighbourhood Care Point in Bhunya. We have 45 children. Thirty children come from Bhunya Primary School; at lunch they walk about one kilometre to us up this hill.

"We have a garden we use to grow food for the children. The community gave us the land to use, but the soil is not good because the care point is on a hill and soil washed away some time ago. But it is the best the people can offer because it is not far from a standpipe. The children fill their watering cans from the standpipe and carry the cans to the garden - we do the best we can.

"All summer there has been too little rain or too much rain, and then a spell of good growth at the school garden got destroyed in just some minutes by a hailstorm.

"These are poor children, and we provide them with what is often their only hot meal of the day. The food comes from donors, they gave us a big cooking pot, and we are given maize flour, and corn-soya blend. But that is all - for anything else, we must find it.

"We were given the tools by UNICEF to fence off our garden plot, and plant vegetables. It is good to have green roughage in the children's meals, but I am really saddened by the weather: the hailstones smashed just about everything that was growing, just as the vegetables were getting big, and the hail broke the windows of the care point.

"The care point must receive food aid or there is nothing at all for the children. Many do not have a thing to eat at home. If they go without lunch here, it means they go the whole day without food."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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