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The Kingdom of Swaziland (part 1)

My tagline mentions faith, doubt, family and future (not sure where that “d” word came from).  So far we have covered the first three, so what about the fourth… our future.  Well here are the big plans Beth and I have been mulling over recently.

About a year ago Beth and I realized we had divergent life plans.  It was not that my plans were different from hers; rather, it was that we were holding on to various life plans that could not all happen together.  Were we going to commit to our community in Bowling Green? Where we going to spend time overseas?  Was I going to pursue a Ph.D. and then teach in a university?  Was Beth going to transition into special education and working with students with Autism?

After much thought, prayer, and discussion it was clear that the path we were most dedicated to was an extended period overseas; specifically, we wanted to experience life in Africa.  We wanted to live 5-10 years in a developing country where we could raise Mikayla during her formative years.  We began doing research and setting goals.  We even went as far as creating a giant pro/con list of every country in the continent.  We were looking for a country:

  • that is relative safe with no major civil conflicts
  • where english is at least a secondary language
  • where travel is cheap enough so it is possible to come back to the states or have people visit us
  • with a near temperate climate and varied terrain (okay… really we were just looking for a place that wasn’t a desert)
  • with a rich history and culture
  • where communities addressed societal issues together

It was not our goal to go somewhere to “fix” things, but rather to allow a different set of circumstances to expand our worldview and then work along side those there to bring about a better world for all.

Our search kept returning us to the small country of Swaziland (technically “The Kingdom of Swaziland” since it is the only remaining monarchy in Africa).  This landlocked country is to the north-east of South Africa and is about the size of New Jersey with about the population of Kentucky’s 4 largest cities (Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Owensboro).  It has the third lowest life expectancy in the world due largely to the fact that it has the highest AIDS rate in the world. I will write a follow up post explaining more about Swaziland in the coming days and then another one explaining what we may do there, but until then you can read about the country here.

Our current plans are to travel there in 2010 to research jobs and organizations we may be able to work with, then in 2011 or 2012 make the big move.  Mikayla will be 2 or 3 then and we expect to stay until she is ready for Middle School and then move back.

Of course all this is flexible.  We decided it was better to have flexible goals that we could move towards rather than ambiguous goals that may never materialize.

For now, we are beginning to make contacts over there and have started looking into learning the second language of siswati, we are also researching organizations and institutions that we may be able to align ourselves with.

I look forward to sharing more as it develops.

See also:

Kingdom of Swaziland Part II – Background on the country

Kingdom of Swaziland Part III – What we will do and why