I had no idea what to expect when I went to Swaziland as I made a decision not to read anything ahead of time and learn about the country when I got there. All I knew that it's a tiny country with a huge HIV problem. I spent 3 weeks working with different artisan groups and through that met many women. I spoke and listened to their life stories and their challenges. I learned crazy stories about the king and his wives. And I got to marvel the beauty of this little country.
The challenges are huge. HIV is rampant, family structures are broken, unemployment is sky high, the king pockets huge amounts of money. Yet I found warm and welcoming people, who are able to smile and take their challenges in stride. The artisan community is striving - you can read about it my experiences here http://sfnest.tumblr.com/. and there are glimmers of hope in all kinds of unexpected places.
It's a country definitely worth exploring, it's proximity to Joburg makes travel easy. Visiting the Hlane Royal National Park is a worthwhile experience and don't miss a meal at the Malandela's complex in the Malkerns Valley which is also home to the great Bush Fire Festival.