Monday, October 18, 2010

CIDA and vocational training

If you attended an event at this year’s “Voices for Bulembu”, or if you have read the 2010 Yearbook cover to cover, then you’ve likely already heard the good news.  But it’s certainly worth sharing with everyone.

In 2009, Bulembu International applied to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for a $500,000 grant to build the Bulembu Vocational Training and Conference Centre (VTCC). In April 2010, CIDA approved the project and construction began on the facility that will become the VTCC. 

The Vocational Training Centre will focus its curriculum on the training of tourism professionals. Although tourism is the third largest industry in Swaziland, the system for educating and developing tourism professionals in Swaziland has capacity to train only 25 students every 3 years and is vastly underdeveloped. Bulembu has seized the opportunity to be a leader in tourism training, producing outstanding tourism professionals to serve in Bulembu, as well as greater Swaziland.  Intake of the Training Centre’s first students is scheduled for February 2011. The Vocational Training Centre is also the first step to providing valuable post-secondary educational opportunities to the young men and women transitioning out of the Bulembu Child Care Program. Training for a successful career is central to Bulembu’s education planning and vision of growing a generation of Swazi leaders. 


The Conference Centre will work in concert with the Vocational Training Centre, providing hands on experiential learning for the students in the program.  The VTCC as a whole will partner with the Bulembu Country Lodge (BCL) to establish Bulembu as a viable conference destination, both in Swaziland and in the South African region. Already the BCL has seen an increase in traffic, resulting in increased stays and total revenues. With the VTCC scheduled to open its doors at the beginning of next year, there are plans to expand the BCL’s room offering. The 50 room hostel will soon undergo a complete renovation to upgrade the facility to hotel quality rooms. This will more than double the Bulembu Country Lodge’s room offering.

Thank you to CIDA and our many partners who are working with us to ensure the 2020 Vision becomes a reality.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dairy Development

Bulembu Jersey Cow

As we roll into October the Bulembu Dairy continues to prove that converting the town golf course into a community dairy, was a step in a great direction.  Bulembu Dairy currently has a herd of 78 Jersey cows, 39 of which are ‘in milk’.  Schalk de Klerk, the new dairy manager has  increased milk production to 21.4 liters per cow per day from 14 liters, which has pushed overall milk production up to 820 L per day. This is outstanding output compared to dairy farms across Swaziland.

Milking takes place twice a day at 5:00 AM and at 4:00PM.  Seven dairy workers make sure that cows are milked and fed at specific times each day.

One of the primary motivators for establishing Bulembu Dairy was to supply children in the Child Care Program with milk and dairy based products at a reduced cost. Due to the increase in milk production we have exceeded original expectations.  Not only are we producing enough milk to serve our Child Care needs, but the rest of the Bulembu community are able to purchase locally produced milk products as competitive prices.  As well, we have been able to increase our market share outside of Bulembu and are now supplying an extra 14,000L of milk based products into the Swaziland market per month. The Bulembu store in Piggs Peak is our primary point of product distribution and is contributing just over 50% of the sales.

Future expansion of the dairy will include a goat herd which will supply to the child care program. The prime reason for taking on the goat project is to replace the formula for the lactose intolerant babies. 

Cows are fed while being milked.

Cows being milked.
This is where the milk is collected after milking.

Dairy pastures.
Dairy pastures.