Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Swazi scene - handmade tapestry from Swaziland.

This is a lovely tapestry I bought from Swaziland. I really think these ladies who make these should sell them online. If you are interested in buying similar tapestries, I can try to source them for you. Their starting point is usually a little drawing or a painting.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Reason someone once gave me for not sponsoring me on a 10 000 feet tandem skydive to raise money for VSO: 'I don't give money to people for having fun.'

What my father said when I told him I had adopted a child from Swaziland: 'Don't you think you should send him back to be looked after by a black family?'

The look most people give when I say that I taught in Zimbabwe for two years earning USD 200 per month: blank.

The look most people give when I say that I have given in excess of EUR 5000 of my own money to pay for one child's education and support in the past six years: blank.

Why not make a difference?

Don't just donate to a faceless charity. This way you will know where your money is going.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Overseas adoption.

Did you know that you can adopt a child easily if you have a UK passport and are resident in certain (mainly commonwealth) countries? This is how I adopted my son.

Once local adoption procedings are completed, you apply to your British Consulate for citizenship under section 3 (1) of the British Nationality Act 1981. The application form is available online. There is a charge for the application in the region of GBP 600 and it will take about three months to process. In the application, you need a statement from the social worker who dealt with the adoption to say that all relevant local laws were followed. You also need death certificates for the biological parents and the adoption certificate of course.

Once you receive the certificate of registration of citizenship, you can apply for a passport. You will not be permitted to reside permanently in the UK without permission from Social Services. But if you are an international traveller like me, that won't be a problem for you.

Mark Beaumont

Congratulation on Mark Beaumont and the team he was filming on their journey to the magnetic north pole. Read my other article about him here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Swaziland attempts to buy $60 000 000 of weapons


The text of a cable from the U.S. Embassy to Washington on June 11, 2009, according to WikiLeaks:

Classified By: AMB. MAURICE PARKER FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d)

1. (S) SUMMARY: In December 2008, the GKOS sought to purchase approximately 60 million USD worth of military equipment, including helicopters, vehicles, weapons, and ammunition from a British weapons manufacturer.

The British government denied the request over end-use concerns. In documents requesting permission to purchase the equipment, Swaziland's Ministry of Defense stated that the equipment was for use by the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (USDF) on United Nations peacekeeping deployment in Africa. It is unclear whether this was the intended purpose, or whether GKOS was attempting to build up domestic capability to deal with unrest, or was possibly acting as an intermediary for a third party.


2. (S) In December 2008, the GKOS sought to purchase approximately 60 million USD worth of military equipment from British weapons manufacturer Unionlet Limited (please protect). The British government denied the request over end-use concerns. A senior level contact with the British High Commission in Pretoria (please protect) recently provided Ambassador Parker with documentation on the attempted purchase.

3. (S) The purchase application, signed by XXXXXXXXXXXX, included requests for 3 Bell Model UH-1H helicopters, FN Herstal 7.6251mm Minimi light machine guns, blank and tracer ammunition, armored personnel carriers, command and control vehicles including one fitted with a 12.7x99mm M2 Browning heavy machine gun and others fitted with the FN Herstal light machine guns, military ambulances, armored repair and recovery vehicles, weapon sights, military image intensifier equipment, optical target surveillance equipment, 620 Heckler & Koch G36E assault rifles, 240 Heckler & Koch G36K assault rifles, 65 Heckler & Koch G36E rifles, 75 Heckler & Koch UMP submachine guns 9x19mm, and 35 Heckler & Koch USP semi-automatic pistols. SwazilandQs Ministry of Defense stated in the purchase documents that the equipment was for use by the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force on United Nations peacekeeping deployment in Africa.

4. (S) COMMENT: Post is disappointed that XXXXXXXXXXXX did not disclose anything about this request to Ambassador Parker or DATT Langdorf in one of several very candid and private discussions since this order was placed. If XXXXXXXXXXXX were coerced into making the order, he might have been embarrassed to discuss it, though from his experience, one would think he would assume we would find out about it and that he might have wanted to do damage control.

Relevant Links
Southern Africa
Arms and Armies
U.S., Canada and Africa
Europe and Africa
5. (S) The array of weapons requested would not be needed for the first phases of peacekeeping, although it is possible someone tried to convince the Swazi government they were required. The GKOS may have been attempting to build up domestic capability to deal with unrest, or was possibly acting as an intermediary for a third party such as Zimbabwe or a Middle Eastern country that had cash, diamonds or goods to trade. XXXXXXXXXXXX, traveled to Iran and later to Libya, and several GKOS Ministers made trips to Kuwait, Dubai, and other Arab nations. We also understand that an Iranian ambassador, resident in either Pretoria or Maputo, recently presented his letters of credence to King Mswati to establish formal diplomatic relations with Swaziland.

6. (S) We are not aware of subsequent purchase requests. XXXXXXXXXXXX

7. (S) Please protect information on the identity of the British weapons manufacturer. The British contact providing documentation for this purchase informed Ambassador Parker that if the information becomes public, the manufacturer could sue the British Government for violating confidentiality. END COMMENT.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Desperate for donations


I am going to have to cut back on my sponsorship because I am just not receiving any donations at the moment. The reality of that is that life for him is going to become harder. Of course, most people in the developed world can't appreciate what that means. We all think we have a hard time with money and saving but try living on 3 or 4 euros a day like this student does ... and he is the lucky one who gets supported from a donor ... ie me.

Any donations go directly to his account in Swaziland. Nhlanhla is pictured above in yellow.

The kind of place where Nhlanhla grew up is typical of a township in Swaziland - no running water, makeshift buildings which often collapse in the rain and are not properly waterproof, inadequate sewage and no services like electricity, no refuse collection. Feral dogs run around and sometimes attack children. It is too hot in the summer months and too cold in winter.

School fees are in the region of three to four thousand rand a year (EUR 300 - 400) and if no one pays, you don't go to school. Schools are very poorly equipped and teachers are underpaid. You have to pay extra for books even. It is with this background that Nhlanhla achieved excellent grades in his school leaving exams at the end of last year.

UNISWA students march to Parly tomorrow

UNISWA students march to Parly tomorrow

A reader of this article posted this comment:

I have a serious problem when the decision as who gets a sponsorship or not is done by this government. I can assure you, all the students whose parents are progressive-minded will not be chosen. I know that I'm flogging a dead horse here, when it's not my intention. The other main problem I see is that this government will make these student-protests to escalate and by the time they intervene, which is very unlikely, it will be too late. Just look at the Judiciary. Government is controlling the process by remote control as if they aren't involved. Yet everyone knows government is behind this chaotic situation in those courts. The CJ was only a tool. It's time we stopped blaming the tool alone, by concentrating on the 'tool maker' which is government. Until we get a new and better government leader, with a vision for this country, there will be no peace nor progress in Swaziland.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

From the AllAfrica website

Pretoria Loan to Pay Democracy Dividend

Developments inside Swaziland explain why Mswati was willing to sign on for Pretoria's tough terms: the University of Swaziland, has closed indefinitely following a drastic cut in government tuition and registration subsidies. The government has cut its support from 1 200 study places to just 300, prompting the university to suspend registration on 8 August. The government has been urged by its own Economic Recovery Advisory (ERA) to cut subsidies to all tertiary institutions. The university has been urged by the ERA to "open up" its training programmes to free market innovation and efficiency in the pursuit of tuition fees from private sources.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Just paid another R2000 for living expenses

This is what Swazi students are up against

SBIS gags UNISWA students

They are not even allowed to announce a public meeting on radio. Remember that most students there do not have access to the internet. This is typical of the control that Swazi authorities have over the individual in this country.

Estimated costs for university education in Swaziland

Nhlanhla is on a scholarship which should pay for accommodation and tuition fees, if the government pays that is.

In addition to this, I need to pay for:

food: in Swaziland, these costs have risen sharply
transport: the campus is in a rural location
books: these are expensive
mobile phone costs so he can keep in touch with me and the outside world
leisure: no student can be happy if he cannot relax

Estimated costs are R 2000 per month (about EUR 200). I have been getting only a very small amount of help from donations (EUR 500 in the past 12 months) and have to pay the difference myself, plus any sudden one-off expenses.

Nhlanhla has a bank account in Swaziland and from my experience is good at managing money and has for the past five years proven himself to be a hard worker.

Friday, August 19, 2011

settling in well

My son.is settling in well at his new school. It is a tiny school by comparison to his previous one. He will be getting support like he used to at his last school but this time it is free. Actually I think he ie doing rather well. I teach mathematics there twice a week and I must say that I feel very positive about everything.

We hope to be able to visit Swaziland at Christmas but I am really not sure yet. If the Swazi government pays up the 80 million rand it owes Uniswa, then students will go back. It is a depressing state of affairs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I found this website. This organisation sponsors 70 children in Swaziland. I have only supported 1, but I am an individual. It at least gives you an idea of why you would want to help sponsor a Swazi child.

Why is there so much bad press about international adoptions?

It puzzles me. Swaziland has a massive problem with orphans lacking a home yet is doing nothing, and in fact actively preventing people from finding a solution. The government has put a ban on overseas adoptions. The Swazi press criticises the role of privately funded children's homes in the country as though it is ashamed that it is doing nothing, so it feels the need to stir up trouble.

Many Swazis are extremely hostile to adoption by people from overseas despite the obvious fact that there is a massive problem with orphans in that country.

Moving to Sønderborg

So I moved here last month. My son got kicked out of his last school because of his learning disability. So much for an inclusive education. I think it is a good move. I am in a much better job in terms of work load, facilities, resources and my son is in a much better environment. He is at a small international school in the town. The local authority has found funding for him. The school fees are subsidised by the state.

Friday, August 12, 2011


We have moved to Denmark and I am still unsure what my salary is going to be. One thing is for sure - I will be taking home less than when I worked in Slovakia. It is going to be much harder to afford to pay the R 2000 that I have been sending to Nhlanhla every month. I also have my mortgage in Hungary to pay. SO I have set up a Fundrazr account which I hope will attract some interest and some donations.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Started at Uniswa

He has started at Uniswa. He tells me that he does not yet have a place to stay on campus because the government has not yet paid the university. He has to shuttle between his home and college which is expensive. Now the government has postponed the start of term.

I am glad to be starting a new job in Sønderborg this month. My last school was getting very oppressive. What a relief to be away from there.