Bulembu is unique in many ways from its avid commitment to sustainability by 2020 to its holistic community development approach. But, one of the most compelling characteristics is the scope of the work. Three years ago a group of charismatic individuals caught the vision and dreamed of bringing 1000 students to Bulembu to volunteer and engage with the community in work projects and various ministry outreaches. This birthed what has become known as the Swazi1000.
In December 2008, 350 volunteers joined in on the first Swazi 1000 mission to Bulembu. Besides painting 12 community buildings, renovating 2 orphan homes, and painting 420 houses, these young people were challenged to live in radical devotion to their faith in God. The outpouring of their experience was far greater than expected as they returned to their own communities and set up outreaches, prayer groups and community development projects.
In 2009, 220 volunteers packed their tents and work gloves once again traveled to Bulembu for the second Swazi1000. This time they erected a 1.6km dairy fence, renovated the outer shell of nearly 12 orphan homes, painted murals, logos and even toenails of women in the community.
This year, the Swazi1000 returned on November 28th with over 150 students. Although this was by far the wettest Swazi 1000, that certainly has not stopped the team from heading out every morning to get the work done.
The energy around camp is one of excitement as volunteers divide into work groups and are briefed for the day’s work ahead. There are eleven teams on a rotation system, where the volunteers will have the opportunity in the course of the next two weeks to serve on kitchen duty, cleaning duty, bush clearing, painting, renovating orphan homes, as well as various ministry projects. Four fixed teams work solely on murals, fencing, renovating the school playground and caring for the new intake of orphaned babies in Bulembu.
During the first week, the rain was pouring so hard, it made work nearly impossible. The Swazi1000 leaders gave the volunteers the choice to come back to camp and get out of the rain. However, the majority of volunteers chose to remain working in the rain and mud. Those at the orphan homes decided to dig trenches around a few of the houses in order to prevent them from flooding. The perseverance and servant hood of the Swazi1000 team is one which continues to amaze the Bulembu community.
This year on Swazi1000 there were two small teams on a Mission Outreach Team Exposure (MOTE Level 2) experience. For this experience, the small teams spent the two weeks actually living in the villages outside of Bulembu, working, eating and serving with the local people and developing relationships with them as they built a community church and cow kraal.
The work that has been completed over the last 3 years by 728 Swazi1000 volunteers has uplifted the community and shown how important volunteers and teams are to the continual development of Bulembu. Next year Bulembu is looking to host over 400 Swazi1000 volunteers and if one thing is certain, there will be no shortage of work projects.
|The Swazi 1000 team|
|Team ready to go paint the town red!|
|Students clearing weeds around houses|
|Building playground for children|
|Team works together to move jungle-gym|