It never occurred to me to think of Africa as a mountainous land, but it is. In many ways, it looks like East Tennessee where I grew up. The peaks have been blunted by time, and though the mountains are not naturally forested like the ones I used to know, logging companies have planted and harvested thousands of acres of pine and eucalyptus trees on these mountains, making them look just like home, at least from a distance. So when we arrived at the town of Bulembu, nestled in the Swazi mountains, it felt strangely familiar.
I am fortunate to have found a familiar place 8,500 miles from my front door. It must be harder for the orphan children of Bulembu. They all came from somewhere else too, so this valley was strange to them. And they all had someone to call family at one time, but now they live in a city-sized orphanage. What must they feel about all that? Lost? Abandoned? Alone? Or perhaps they feel a sense of refuge. I hope they do. We came here to help make that happen. Our work this week is to support them any way we can. We are strangers here, but our mission is to make this foreign city feel like home for those children for whom it must be home. I can’t wait to meet some of them!