Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Full of Beans

Bulembu lodge cappuccino
The fresh smell of peculated coffee is an inviting smell that greets you when you are in close proximity to Bulembu Lodge. If you ever come to visit Bulembu, you will be able to have the best cup of coffee in Swaziland!

I visited the Lodge to see how they have mastered the art of making coffee, and I must say I was impressed. Sibosiso, the Lodge manager, stood confidently behind the coffee machine, while he explained to me how to make a cappuccino and how the coffee machine works.

The coffee machine was purchased in February 2009 and from then on, was visited by all who live in Bulembu. A barista from the UK came out to Bulembu to teach the Lodge staff how to use the coffee machine and make good coffee. 

We use a three coffee bean blend from Avanti CafĂ©, which we buy from Elite Food Suppliers in Mbabane. The beans are poured into a blender-looking container and the beans are ground to a specific texture. The ground coffee powder is poured into a small black cup and the powder is then tapped - tapped meaning compressed. As the hot water seeps through the ground coffee powder, the brewing process occurs, which amplifies the coffee aroma. The texture of the ground coffee, and how the coffee powder is tapped, affects the taste of the coffee. It is, therefore, really important to find the perfect balance between the two, in order to make the best well-brewed coffee. 

Four years ago the Bulembu Country Lodge offered only a few different meals and standard coffee and tea. But as progress is constantly being made through service and product improvement, more people are noticing and enjoying all the Lodge has to offer. Although a cup of coffee seems like a small change, if you were to pick one up on your way to work, you would agree, it is a great step forward.  

Brewed coffee pouring into mugs

Bulembu lodge cappuccino

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dairy Expansion

Expanding the Bulembu Dairy pastures are the order of the day. Over the last year, the dairy has really shown tremendous success.  It has proven to be a sustainable and successful business, which is exactly the culture that Bulembu is trying to cultivate. Due to the growing herd of jersey cows and the future prediction of another further 100 over the next few months, the Bulembu Dairy  is increasing its pastures. An area of grassland has been cleared in the village and is currently being prepared for planting, which is scheduled to proceed in the next four weeks. Two grass types are going to be planted, Rye and Kikuyu grass, which will produce luscious fields for the new herd. Both grass types grow well in the Bulembu’s type of climate and will provide the cattle with part of the nutrition that they require. By expanding the herds and pastures, Bulembu Dairy will significantly increase its profit, adding needed funds to the community for future growth.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mine Tailings Rehabilitation BEGINS!

Upon acquiring the Bulembu property in 2006, Bulembu Ministries Swaziland (BMS) conducted a series of tests in order to assess the liveability of the property.  It was important to understand exactly what the charity was getting into after the decades of neglect under the management of the mining company that had operated the town for 60 years.  All tests indicated that any risk of exposure to the chrysotile that was mined on the property over the previous decades was negligible.  Still, BMS has been mindful to take the necessary steps to appropriately rehabilitate the property and create safeguards for all of the residents of the town. 

One of the most important stages in our rehabilitation plan began last month with the $1.2 million rehabilitation of the old mine tailings dump.  This project has been made possible with support from funders and experts in Canada and South Africa.
The current timeline calls for all of the required activities necessary to rehabilitate the mine tailings to be completed in 14 months.  During this time BMS will be monitoring closely the water, soil and air quality, ensuring that the rehabilitation of the tailings has no ill effects on the community.  Bulembu is home to over 2,000 enterprise employees, community care workers, children and Bulembu administrators and leadership all of who live, work and play in town.  We are always mindful of this reality when making decision about our community.

Follow along over the next 14 months as we regularly post mine rehab updates on the blog. 
The first step in the rehabilitation process: re-sloping.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Royal Rangers

Royal Ranger leaders

It was an exciting week for the Bulembu children as they went “Royal Ranging” at a new campsite established for the program. The camp has been established in a stunning part of a forest near a steady flowing stream.

Royal Rangers is a Christian-based scouting and discipleship program. It has been introduced to the kids as an extra-mural of Bulembu Christian Academy. Children are embracing the program as they learn scouting, camping and leadership skills. Royal Ranger also provides them with a safe environment to tackle the tough issues that come with growing up.

The national leaders of the Royal Rangers program in South Africa are Gerhard and Tammy Uys. They have been involved in training up leaders and running camps all over South Africa. They have been instrumental in establishing the program in Bulembu.

This fall the children in the program were assigned to a team of eight fellow Rangers. There were approximately 12 teams this time around. Each team was tasked with establishing their own team camping area. They were trained to build their own shelter, fire table and picnic table as they had to cook their own meals. Other activities included first aid classes, learning how to tie knots, making different fires, learning how to use a compass and identifying certain trees and indigenous plant life. 

They also had a wonderful time singing songs around the campfire at night. The highlight for the children was the spiritual fire evening where the Royal Ranger leaders performed a skit. This year the highlight was a huge heart that was lit to show God’s love for the children. The evening ended with an intense time of prayer and ministry. God touched the lives of many!
I asked Gerhard if he sees potential for Royal Rangers and he said: “Yes, big time. I have seen the kids the way they are. They are naughty but very lovable. Many of the kids are really bright and need a chance to reach their full potential; and this program gives them the opportunity to do so..

Royal Rangers is just one avenue to teach leadership skills. It is giving the kids in the Child Care Program an opportunity to grow individually and as a part of a team. We look forward to next year’s camps!
Gerhard & Tammy
One of the campsites
A fire table
Gerhard & kids having fun