By Mark Bettle, Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership
The Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership currently pays school fees for 182 students (91 females and 91 males) at three high schools in Swaziland. We are fortunate to have three graduates from our Starfish Program – Linda, Mathie, and TK – acting as liaisons with each of the schools. This allows the Partnership to stay in close contact with the students and monitor their performance throughout the year. We sometimes receive letters from the students, consistently full of expressions of appreciation and affection for their sponsors.
Many of the students live in remote areas, raised by mothers, grandmothers, and older siblings. Communication with the caregivers is much more of a challenge but, a couple weeks ago, Mathie met a very appreciative mother of one of our recently graduated Starfish students.
Mathie wrote to us, “I was at school today and I bumped into a parent who was very happy to see me and she said she had been longing to see me for a while now. She wanted to express her gratefulness for what the Hampton Piggs Peak Partnership has done for her. She could not explain her happiness especially now that her daughter has graduated and looking forward to going for her tertiary education.”
“She asked me to come with her so that I can take with me a gift for the Hampton Piggs Peak Partnership group, to show her sincere gratitude. I went to her homestead this afternoon and met her bed ridden husband who has been sick for a while now. She gave me a hen and asked to keep it until the Canadians come back so that they can eat it and she had already asked her daughter (Primrose) to help her write a letter in English to her daughter’s starfish sponsor.”
An excerpt from the letter written by Primrose’s mother, Pauline, says, “If it was not for your help in paying school fees for this child, she could never attend her high school classes… It was a lot of money that we could not afford but by your help she managed to learn and finish school.”
“Ever since you took this child as your responsibility and paid school fees for her, life became much easier for me as her parent. Things were very hard before she got a sponsor as her father is sick and I am not working so it is difficult for me to obtain enough money so that I pay for her school fees.”
A letter like this reminds us of the priority placed on education, even amongst those families in Swaziland living in distressing circumstances. It also conveys the parents’ gratitude for easing their burden by giving their children this wonderful gift.