Love and Death

in the Kingdom of Swaziland


When two Missionary Sisters of Cabrini, Barbara Staley and Diane DalleMolle, arrived in Swaziland, a third of the population had AIDS, tuberculosis was endemic, and ten percent of the Swazi people were orphans. Children were raising children as the adults around them wasted away.

In the arid, thorn-bush outback of the Lubombo region, the sisters worked with little help from the outside world. Dealing with drought, illiteracy, disease, corruption, rape, black magic, witch doctors, and venomous snakes, they fed, housed, and educated over a hundred orphans. They established an HIV/TB clinic. They installed a municipal-scale water system. They introduced the Swazi culture to a new idea: the notion of loving thy neighbor.

After eight years of financial, social, emotional, and medical struggle, the sisters found their organization more sustainable than the national government of Swaziland. It offered medical care, child care, education, and training not available anywhere else in the kingdom. Its cutting-edge programs were a model for other NGOs.

In this excerpt from his forthcoming book on nuns and sisters who work in the world’s worst places, Glenn Alan Cheney presents a desperate and mysterious world where two women used love and guts to make a difference.

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