Monday, April 4, 2011

Coffee, Tea or Turn Down Your Bed?

A main priority in restoring and transforming Bulembu is to help its citizens and neighbors get on their feet and provide for themselves through education and jobs. This never-ending circle not only benefits the individual but the community and the entire nation of Swaziland through the economy as well as preparing for the next generation of leaders.

Two HTC students in class
Students from all across Swaziland know that they can find excellent training and internships in planning for their own careers at Bulembu’s Hospitality Training Center. The training focuses on the hospitality industry, which is already beginning to make a large impact on the economy as a whole. Students spend three months of in-class and practical training before going on to a three-month internship elsewhere, putting their lessons to use in the real world.

HTC students
Sibusiso Magagula, the Bulembu Country Lodge Manager, is at the front lines of the training program where he helps to provide hands-on training in guest room preparations such as turning down beds or making them, cleaning restrooms and stocking them, and making sure guest needs are met as well as dining room obligations as a waitron. Sibusiso has been the manager of the Lodge since 2010 but started as a waitron there in 2008. His role grew into a supervisory one before taking over as manager. He says he learned a lot in his hospitality training even before coming to Bulembu, but the on the job training he experienced as well as the guidance and support of his mentors helped him take the next step in his career. And that’s what he hopes to impart on his students.

“At the end of every day,” he explained, “I ask myself, ‘What did I do wrong today, and what can I do to make it better tomorrow?’ I encourage the students to ask these same questions of themselves.”  

Sibusiso knows that the hospitality industry provides tremendous opportunities for Swazi’s, and his mission is to make sure his students are prepared. But he’s teaching them so much more than how to brew coffee or how to set a table or where to place the mint on the bed at night. He’s teaching them about dress codes and how to have pride in your appearance. He reminds them to not be discouraged if they make a mistake and simply strive to make it better. Sometimes shy Swazi students are learning how to come out of their shell and interact with guests, which means, according to Sibusiso, that a clear understanding of what’s happening in Swaziland and the world is a vital part of everyday’s preparation process. And he’s helping them to catch the vision that they, too, can climb the ladder of success, just as he did.

HTC students in training at the lodge

“Reception training is the next natural step into management,” he said. “This part of the training teaches a lot of different things about managing a lodge, hotel or restaurant.”

Sibusiso knows that the extra work he puts into his trainees will ultimately benefit Bulembu by bringing it more attention, which will result in more trainees, and more guests who will be treated with the same, consistent wonderful service.

By: Theresia Whitfield 


  1. Yes, this is what I felt when I was there. They will learn a lot. I like the thought of teaching in the way of watching them, and tell immidiatelly how to do it better the next time. I think this will grow to be a great school!!!!!

  2. Awesome Blog. I love reading about this and learning about Bulembu

  3. Theresia, this is very interesting....I had no idea that this Lodge is that "organized" and that this kind of training is already offered.....great for Swaziland......enjoyed the blog ......and OVERJOYED that you are blogging!!!!

  4. Congratulations, Theresia, on your assignment! You’ve worked hard, and you deserve this. I am very happy that you are blogging, and I look forward to “seeing” the results of efforts in Swaziland through your eyes as you draw us pictures of the life and activity there. The time you spent in Bulembu has given you first hand knowledge and vision, and we, your readers, are going to benefit greatly.

    It is gratifying to read from you and from others that progress is definitely being made toward the goal of being a self sustaining community by 2020. Thanks for being part of the change and for keeping your readers aware that God hears and answers prayer.

    Peace and blessings to all —