By Morgan McKeown
I got the news the other day that Maswane (pictured below) died.
At age 19, her life here on earth is over, stolen by AIDS. She desired to tell her story and let the truth be known. That’s why I’m writing.
Our first day in Swaziland Pastor Gift told us about Maswane and asked if we would be willing to go pray with her. When she was five years old she was raped which is how she contracted HIV.
She was raped again when she was seven and has never once consented to sex with a man. One of the men who raped her has died, and the other is free; he escaped to South Africa. Her virginity as well as her life has been brutally ripped away.
We pulled our van up to her families compound. As I ducked from the bright day into the round stick building, it took a second to pick out figures in the dim light. The smell of rotting flesh and smoke permeated the air; soaked into everything, burnt my eyes and saturated my clothing. Maswane was too sick to sit up, she was on a one inch thick mattress and lay shivering under a light blanket.
She was wrecked by AIDS, her skin cracked and calcified, open sores all over her frail, bed ridden body. In place of what once was smooth dark skin she had charred dry scales. It was one of the hardest things I have ever seen. Nineteen years old and dying by no fault of her own.
Soon after we entered she started whaling in agony, her piercing screams filled the hut. Seeing her writhe in pain and hearing her tortured scream was heart wrenching. We all started to pray and she was visibility calmed, her body stopped shaking and slowly uncurled while her breath deepened again.
As we prayed I felt God saying, “This is my beautiful daughter, see how lovely she is!” Then God reminded me that there would be no tears or pain in heaven, and that he had prepared a beautiful place for her.
Maswane labored to tell her story, to be known and to make known the evil that has robbed her life. Despite that evil, her spirit was strong and her beauty captivating. She fought to shine the light of exposure in a horribly dark place.
Some of my mission teammates and I got to go back to visit with her and to deliver a new thicker mattress and some warm blankets. We sat with her for a few hours, and filmed everything, her story, her spirit, her hopes and dreams, her truth and reality. She loved the camera and understood how exposing the truth was the key to bringing change to future generations in Swaziland.
Some day I’ll get to see Maswane in heaven; we will get to laugh, dance and run. We will get to talk with no language barrier, and maybe she will show me around the beautiful place that God prepared for her.
Morgan is from San Diego, CA. She returned in November 2007 from traveling to 11 countries in 11 months on a mission trip.