The United States Ambassador to Swaziland, Lisa Peterson, and a delegation from the US embassy in Swaziland visited Waterford Kamhlaba on Wednesday 25 January 2017. The Ambassador was welcomed by the principal Stephen Lowry at the school car park and soon after an exchange of pleasantries; she was ushered into the school’s assembly hall. Ms. Peterson spoke to a large audience of students and her engaging personality and relaxed style soon won over the audience.
Peterson spoke at length about America’s assistance to Swaziland, especially under the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). “Since 2005, we have done a lot of work under PEPFAR in Swaziland and, as a result, new HIV infections are projected to decrease by more than 50% in 2018. We are supporting the Test and Start program, which is primarily meant to decrease chances of HIV transmission quite significantly,” she said. The Ambassador also highlighted a number of areas that need to be addressed in this regard, including the urgent need to empower young women so that they are in a position to openly discuss and negotiate sexuality issues with their partners. She further emphasized the need to focus on youth, and mentioned opportunities that the American government has availed to young people from Swaziland, which include sending them to the US for training. “The youth is an important demographic especially for a country like Swaziland in which more than 59% of the population is under the age of 24,” she said.
The students and staff were allowed to ask questions which the ambassador gladly answered during a session which was conducted by SRC president Sihle Tsabedze. At the end, SRC president Karanja Karabiu passed a vote of thanks on behalf of all members of the Waterford Kamhlaba community. “Thank you so much for coming,” he said as he handed over a gift to the ambassador.
The school principal, Stephen Lowry, expressed sincere appreciation to the ambassador for the visit. After the morning assembly, Ambassador Peterson was taken on a campus tour before departure.