Previously I wrote that one of my biggest fears about Swaziland was facing death on a regular basis. After four months of escaping it, last Tuesday I was hit with a double dose.
Dudu was a Gone Rural artisan. Although I didn’t know her personally, it was clear that her departure was felt by those around me. The saddest part for me was that Dudu’s death was preventable. She was HIV+ and died because of that. She was also a Peer Educator: educated herself and responsible for educating others about HIV, the risks, the importance of testing and taking medication. She knew what to do, but she didn’t do it.
On the same day, I also received news that the daughter of my dear friend Dazi also passed away. You might remember Dazi from my recent blog about the wedding. It seems that while we were happily celebrating her sister’s wedding, her daughter died at home from TB. Again, I had never met Dazi’s daughter, but her death was preventable. If only she had taken her medication.
Two horrible, yet preventable, deaths highlighting one key message: education is not enough.
While I decided not to go to either funeral, I did make a visit to Dazi to show my support. I wore a skirt, covered my hair, and took my shoes off at the door. Zinhle, my colleague, sang as we entered the emptied room, where the girl’s mothers and grandmothers sat shoulder-to-shoulder on mats on the floor. Normally, I love the sounds of Swazi women singing, but on that occasion it gave me the shivers. We knelt down next to the others, bowed our heads and prayed as sobbing was heard in the background. With so much emotion bottled up in one tiny room, it was impossible not to cry too. There was no celebration of life here, only grief at life lost. Sadly, I assume, a taste of things to come.