In May of 2019, a small contingent of Golder representatives made their way to the town of Bulembu, near the summit of Swaziland’s highest peak of Emlembe, to learn about progress and overall operations on this GTO-supported program.
The impressive thing about Bulembu is the growth of the organization, its mission, and impact. Located on the site of a former mining operation, over time mine workers created a small town which they later abandoned, coinciding with the mine’s shut down. Building by building, the Bulembu team has maximized the promise of this site by creating a safe place for children to live and thrive from infancy through to adulthood. Their goal is to provide all the necessary care, shelter, education, and support needed to break the poverty cycle.
During the visit, the Bulembu team took advantage of technical experts on our team and asked many questions about power supply and opportunities for on-site generation of power to help curb costs, provide reliable power sources, and provide training in technology for solar, wind, hydro or other potential power generating systems. They also sought our advice on tailings management for the tailings stacks that remain on-site. While the Swazi government owns the liability the Bulembu team wants to stay informed and understand the risks and complexity around the rehabilitation of the tailings stacks.
The group learned more about to results of Golder’s donations of both time and funding to Bulembu such as:
- An updated bathroom/bathing area where more than 50 infants now have a clean and healthy bathing environment.
- A Golder-built playground that toddlers enjoy for exercise and developing gross motor skills critical to their development.
- The development of a chicken-house,
where chicken sales generate over USD $200 in income for school programs, activities, and equipment.
- Honey production facilities where residents can harvest and process honey on-site, producing honey products for market and employing community members. They are making progress with other NGO partners in the region towards becoming an income-producing, self-sustaining honey business.
What’s next at Bulembu?
Following the success of existing programs, a competition is underway where classrooms and teams compete to have the opportunity to care for the next “crop” of chickens helping with skill development and financial literacy. Bulembu is also beginning preliminary work for an IT training center for the high school as well as an afterhours adult education classes. Program lead Owen Buchanan’s vision is for both a training facility and a network center for the entire Bulembu campus that would create education and job training opportunities while also helping the entire community run more efficiently with modern technology resources.
From basic health and wellness, to primary and advanced education, to enterprise building and creation of a self-sustaining community environment, Bulembu is demonstrating all the values, the drive, and the positive impacts we could hope for in meeting our goals of creating sustainable communities with our contributions. Consider donating to the GTO today to support Bulembu, and other programs like it.
Bulembu is a great example of the GTO and NGO partnership model. The basis of our relationship is mutual trust and keeping commitments on both sides. This has allowed us to grow together as a team which in turn maximizes the positive impact on the children and the community.
Chair of the GTO