Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pool Party Anyone?

The Havelock Mine Country Club pool during its golden years.

Bulembu's abuzz as the old Havelock Mine Country Club pool gets up and running - just in time for summer. Journey back into Bulembu's archives to see what the pool looked like in its glory days (above) and what it looks like as it undergoes a good cleaning (below). As temperatures soar town residents get ready to take the plunge!



Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Swazi 1000 (Okay, so there won't be 1000 of them but "Swazi 210" doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi)

Swazi 1000 volunteers mix paint for projects last year
On Saturday, November 28, the 210 young people that make up the Swazi 1000 will descend on Bulembu for  fourteen days of hard work, spiritual growth and crazy adventures.  The Swazi 1000 was birthed when Focused Team Leadership Training (FTLT) from Pretoria came to Bulembu for a meeting. FTLT is an organization that sends students on missions across Africa. While here the FTLT staff realized that Bulembu would be the perfect place to send a large group of young people on a level one missions trip. So, together with the mission team at the University of Pretoria, FTLT came up with the vision of 1,000 students coming together to volunteer in Bulembu.  The students engage in spiritual and leadership development activities but also make up a massive physical labor force and take on work projects that drastically change the face of Bulembu's infrastructure in a mere two weeks.
Students walk home after a day of work
Take a look at these photos to see what the Swazi 1000 accomplished last year. The central project that the 370 students completed was the painting of the Village houses – fondly known as the Smartie Box houses.  
Sponsorship from Product Care provided the supplies to paint a number of other buildings around town like the church, control and the local barber shop.
This year the main project is renovating a set of the Dvudvusi orphan homes.  Smaller projects will include building fences around town, planting grass at the dairy pasture, cleaning up and preparing the old cableway station to make way for the new museum, clearing brush in Dvudvusi, renovating (primarily painting) the clinic, and working with the ladies in the creativity center.  Keep an eye out for blog updates as projects get underway!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1 Chinda Place

A look back at the development of Bulembu Country Lodge

The Lodge's Dining Room as it transformed over the years.

The Bulembu Country Lodge is one of the crown jewels of Bulembu's development. Set at the top of the valley the Lodge is a haven for a weary traveler and is a quaint, comfy country home for international volunteer teams. The Lodge was one of the first projects to be developed when the town was originally bought in 2006. Over the past three years it has been given a nip-tuck treatment and is now established as one of Swaziland's premiere country lodges.

The Tin Roof & Tree is Bulembu Creativity Center's store. It was renovated from a garage/shed into the commercial space it is now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Extreme Makover: Bulembu Edition

Bulembu Ministries Swaziland is growing and with more staff comes a need for more offices. Take a look at a section of the General Office that hasn't been touched since the days of Havelock Mine. In a few weeks this will be home to the newest BMS offices - and you thought your office needed a reno.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gold In Them Hills

A peek into Bulembu's golden past

Gold Mine, Komati River, 1888. A major mine with a seam and a prospect shaft on the left - the windlass uses rare and expensive imported timber - the seam is supported by indigenous timber. Site unknown - probably within Malolotja Nature Reserve.
Source: Swaziland Digital Archives

Newsflash: Bulembu used to be a mining town. Now I know what you're thinking...You're thinking you already know that Bulembu used to be a massive asbestos mine.

But did you know that in the late 1800's used to be home to one of the most promising gold mines in the country?

The Swazi King used to give out concessions to people which allowed them to do things like mine or graze cattle. Concession No.1 was the Havelock Concession which stretched from Bulembu to Piggs Peak and allowed the gold which was found within the hills to be mined starting in 1883.

One such mine existed right near where the current Swaziland/South African boarder post is. The mine included a cable way which stretched from the gold mine to the river to process the oar.

This particular mine was in use until the Boer War in 1899 and was officially shut down in 1902 when the British won the war. It was never reopened because it was a marginal mine - never producing the El Dorado payload people had hoped for.

While the mine in Bulembu shut down, gold mining continued on in the area carried until the 1940's and open shafts can still be found in the hills between Bulembu and Piggs Peak.

Today Swaziland historian Bob Forrester is busying himself organizing archived photos and remnants of the mining era to create a comprehensive history of Bulembu's mining past for the new Bulembu Museum. The museum is slated to be opened in early 2010.

  Gold was discovered in Bulembu in the 1880s and a mine was started quite near to the current Bulembu border post. The ore was processed in a mill powered by water which was brought in by long canals. The canal can be seen on top of the scaffolding, the water powered a wheel which then crushed the ore.
Source: Swaziland Digital Archives

The gold bearing reefs at Havelock (Bulembu) and Piggs Peak were on the tops of mountains. At Piggs Peak the mine was large enough to justify a railway, but at Havelock they built a cableway in the extremely mountainous terrain. The battery was close to the end of the cableway and near water that powered the pistons of the battery that crushed the ore to extract the gold from the mined rock.
Source: Swaziland Digital Archives

Piggs Peak Gold Mine, 1887.
Source: Swaziland Digital Archives

For more photos and stories from the Swaziland National Trust and the Swaziland Digital Archives visit or the Bulembu Museum (slated to be up and running in early 2010).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Smartie Boxes Didn't Always Look So Smart

Dvudvusi row gets a facelift

More children + more house moms = more BMS Orphan Homes.

It's a simple equation but as the BMS Orphan Care Program expands and numbers increase so too does the need for new Orphan Homes. Anyone who has been to Bulembu has seen the final product - a clean, bright home with a tiled washroom, full kitchen and orderly bunk beds. But how many have seen where these homes began? 

With the Swazi 1000 descending on Bulembu in less than three weeks, BMS is ramping up to put a team of young people to work rennovating eight houses on the Dvudvusi hill. Here is a look at one house, Dvudvusi 386, before it goes under the knife (note it's roofless state).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Get Served

On May 8, 2009 ground was broken on the new Central Dining Room up on Smartie-box Mountain by the Dvudvusi BMS Orphan Homes. The Central Dining Room (CDR) is a building which centralizes the feeding program in Bulembu. This allows breakfast and dinner to be served to BMS’ children in one place instead of having to deliver separate parcels of food to all the different houses.

“Right now it is a logistical nightmare to take food for 150 kids, divide it into 20 parcels and take it to 20 different houses,” says Rolly Anderson, BMS Director of Community Service. “The CDR will streamline the feeding process.”

Beyond the building being a centralized feeding station the CDR has the capacity to hold functions for the 180 children that will eventually be up in the Dvudvusi Orphan Homes. “It is a multipurpose structure,” Anderson says. “The kids can come and do homework here after school, they can watch movies projected up on the big walls, or they can have a place to come play inside on rainy days.”

Structurally the CDR is now complete but BMS is waiting on a shipment of tables and chairs to complete the project. The shipment is expected to arrive in mid-December and the first meal is slated to be served by Christmas. 


Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Udder Transformation

During the time of the Mine the fields at the far end of town were home to the Havelock Mine Golf Club. These days the 15 hectares of fairways have been plowed and replanted, the trees have been cut down, and the clubhouse gutted and renovated – all of it now home to Bulembu Dairy. 

Renovations on the old Club House began in March 2009 and by the end of August 25 cows had taken to pasture. Headed up by Dairy Manager Colin Lovely, the cows are milked twice a day at 6:00 am and 3:00 pm and produce approximately 330 liters of milk each day.

The milk goes directly into bulk cooling tanks where it is cooled to 4 degrees Celsius and then processed into emasi (sour milk that is popular in Swaziland) or as fresh milk. Since the herd is TB and Brucellosis free and the dairy runs a very hygienic process the milk is left unpasteurized.

Currently the milk is being sold for 7R/liter in Bulembu and is also sold in Pigg’s Peak for a similar price. Any excess milk is sold to Parmalat, a dairy processing company in Swaziland.

The dairy’s future is bright. With a goal of having 45 cows at pasture by the middle of 2010 Lovely hopes to have close to 200 cows in 2020 to coincide with the 2,000 orphans that will be living in Bulembu.

Let’s do the math: 200 cows x 6.6 liters of milk per cow per milking x 2 milkings per day = 2,640 liters of milk produced each day. Got milk? We sure do!