Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Volunteer Teams Making A Difference

For over three years, volunteer teams have been an important part of the renovation and restoration of Bulembu. Whether a visit by one person at a time or as many as 300 people for the “Swazi 1000” two-week event, people find a temporary home here and often come back, sometimes even as permanent residents.

By far the biggest volunteer group has been the Swazi 1000, students mostly from South African universities who pay their way to work hard for the satisfaction of a solid night’s sleep camping out on the cricket field; that and the sense of accomplishment that their  thousands of hours of labor brings in visible ways to the town. Their outreach mission has been especially significant in the renovation of 24 houses in the Dvudvusi neighborhood and the fencing and planting of pastures for the Bulembu Dairy. Also, outdoor signs and murals all around town are a reminder of the Swazi 1000 volunteers.

Swazi 1000 team 
Two somewhat smaller teams have also made a recent impact on Bulembu. The G & J Parking team that is based in Edmonton, Canada is run by a Christian businessman James Dorsey who rewards employees after five years with the company by sending them on missions outreach. Bulembu was their destination this year, with almost twenty people showing up at the lodge in mid-March. Along with child-care and cooking assignments, the team used their construction skills to pour concrete for outdoor stairs and improvements around the Dvududsi Dining Hall. Clean walkways are a welcome change from muddy pathways from all the recent rains.

The other team, easily identified by their bright morning-glory colored t-shirt uniform, is made up of Canadian high school students from the Mennonite Educational Institute. Along with leaders Dave and Luella Neufeld. They have occupied two lodge houses on Hyde Park, and are a regular sight at meal times at the lodge, too. They have been hard at work renovating homes for children who will be coming into the program.

Whether practically taking over the town by the hundreds, or a group of just one or a dozen, volunteers have been a vital part of accomplishing the vision for Bulembu, helping with everything from daily needs to major construction that all contributes to the goal of a self-sustaining community.

By Gary Todoroff

G & J Parking Team 

The MEI Team

G & J Parking at the dining hall

The new staircase

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