The Diocese of Manzini, houses for orphans: Bringing Hope, Restoring Dignity.

Johan Viljoen, May 2012

Homeplan’s mission is to build houses for  ”the poorest of the poor”.  In Swaziland this is certainly the case. Burdened with the highest HIV prevalence in the world, one of the highest TB rates, a collapsing economy and no social assistance, life expectancy in Swaziland has plummeted to a mere 36 years. Homeplan and SACBC, in collaboration with Caritas Swaziland, build houses for orphans who live in unacceptable conditions. The provisional target is to build 20 houses. At the time of writing, 8 had already been completed.


Mkhulu Dhlamini was 88 years old. He lived with his second wife in a hut in Mpolonjeni Village, in the lowlands below Siteki. Together they cared for his 8 orphaned grandchildren – the offspring of the children from his first wife – all of whom had passed away. He suffered from a condition that had eaten away the flesh and skin of his feet – and spent his days sitting in a wheelchair, with the white bones of his heels exposed. He often said that he prayed to God to take him, as his life was too difficult.

His new house was started in April 2012. He was filled with new joy – and began saying that he was now praying to God not to take him quite now, as he first wanted to sleep at least one night in his new house before dying.

He moved into his new house on Friday 20 April. On Friday 27 April he died. His wife and grandchildren are grief-stricken, but glad that his final wish had been granted.

Mkhulu Dlamini’s widow in the centre, with relatives, in the new house.

Mkhulu Dlamini’s orphaned grandchildren in front of their new house. The old one is in the background.

Spencer Ngwenyama and Machawe Ngcamphalala, both of Caritas Swaziland, with the Dhlamini orphans













Etjeni is a bleak relocation area in the Siteki district. The people living there were driven off their traditional lands when the government sold it. They were dumped in Etjeni, without houses, water, electricity or sanitation. They have had to build their own huts in clearings amid the thorn scrub. The area is rocky and arid – unsuitable even for subsistence farming. This area is the focus of the second phase of Caritas/Homeplan houses.

Gogo Dhlamini is 93 years old. She lives with her aged sister, and her three orphaned grandchildren – Sambolo (12 years), Nonduduze (6 years) and Thandokuhle (14 years).  She used to earn a meager income by selling reed mats. A few months ago she was bitten by a poisonous animal, and has lost the use of her right arm and hand. She is now permanently bed-ridden. They all live in a hut that provides almost no shelter. The thatch roof is filled with large holes, and the mud walls are collapsing. Her new house’s foundation has already been laid. Both her and her sister’s eyes fill with tears of joy when they anticipate moving into it.

Gogo Dhlamini

Gogo Dhlamini and her sister

Gogo Dhlamini and her grandchildren – Sambolo, Nonduduze and Thandokuhle

Gogo Dhlamini’s current shelter









Spencer Ngwenyama and Machawe Ngcamphalala with the Dhlamini children in the foundations of the new house.









Ms Nzimande als 9o lives in Etjeni – she is Gogo Dhlamini’s neighbor. She looks after a large number of children – three of her own and the rest the orphans her sister left behind when dying. She will be the next for whom Caritas/Homeplan will build a house at Etjeni. In the photo below she appears in front of her current shelter, with the children.