Helping a Growing Community

Monday, 9 August 2010

See You Soon

See You All Soon

Hello one and all.

Greetings from Bulembu! We hope this finds you well? We are all doing fantastically!
We offer humble apologies for no blog on Friday. We tried to send it off but after three hours of trying it was still not working! This will probably be our last blog of the trip, due to slow internet and a super-busy schedule, unless we are able to access the internet again. ENJOY!

We have had a fantastic five days since our last blog, albeit, very busy...
On Wednesday we finally gave out all the football kits to the young people of the Bulembu Christian Academy. For those of you who don’t know, these kits came from Mr. Murphy’s company, and we had all packed the x10 full football kits by distribution into our bags on the way here. Once we had them all unpacked and sorted into correct teams on Tuesday evening, we were quite amazed at how many there were! The following day we had over five school teams, from junior to seniors all dressed up in the brand new attire and it seemed like we were part of the World Cup 2010 all over again! One teacher commented that it was possibly the best gift we could have brought over for the youth here and the smiles on the young people’s faces told the story!

Our work project continues to go very well with ‘most’ of the paint going on the walls and a bit on our faces, clothes and other interesting areas! The Bulembu project manager complimented us the other day by saying that we had been working very hard as a team and that the ‘new-school-to-be’ in a few months time was ahead of schedule and looking great!

The food continues to be absolutely scrumptious and plenty of it too. Then we ‘burn-it-off’ between meals by walking around at the ‘comfortable’ altitude of Bulembu at over 4000 feet – every-where!

In the evenings most of us congregate outside, ‘African-Style’ by the steel-drum-fire where much conversation follows on our day and the things to come.
Friday we started by spending our usual time with the Bulembu kids at school by doing sport, games, teaching and general TLC in their Academy. Then we move onto our dance and singing practice sessions, which are improving all the time. This afternoon some of us will be working hard at the project while others will be spending some quality time with the Bulembu youth group.

Everyone is working well as a team and it feels like we are one big family! It’s great that we are all good at different aspects of the trip like some people being morning people and starting us all off to a good day. While other talk and sing in the evenings as we ‘wind-down’ for the day.

We all absolutely LOVE it here and are considering staying until the end of the summer...

Just joking, we wish!

It’s such a privilege to be here and to be pioneers for what we hope will be an ongoing partnership. Things moved along at great pace over the weekend, starting Saturday with a ‘sleep-in’ until 8am! Most of the team then spent the morning working on the project and getting much needed progress done. The ‘Extreme-make-over’ African style at the old school, to become a new school, is looking amazing. The mural design is especially brilliant and is slowly beginning to take shape.
In the afternoon on Saturday we spent many joyful and action packed hours with the orphans up in their homes. The group was divided up into teams of two and before we knew it everyone was having an absolute whale of a time! The weather every day has been totally sunny with very cold starts in the mornings and pleasantly warm days.
Sunday morning we had another much needed sleep-in and then went to church. The Bulembu youth-team took the entire service and it was a morning to remember. The passion and spirituality of the people here, and especially the young people is truly inspirational. Mish was asked by the Bulembu young people to speak about his faith and did us all proud! There were many visitors from all over too making for a service of well over 500 people with some loud singing and dancing!

In the afternoon, after a hearty lunch of chicken and chips, we went exploring as a group and walked for over two hours to get to the another disused secondary school tucked away in a forest. We almost had a mutiny on our hands as many simply wanted to just chill-out at the accommodation, but a massive bag of freshly baked muffins, to be consumed at the half-way point of our mammoth walk, convinced everyone! We ended the day by watching the local men’s football tournament with lots of shouting, cheering and even vuvuzelas!

Although our days are often long and ‘hard’ our young people still have energy in the evenings to dance, song screech, and play football in the dark! However, normally by 9:30pm we are all in bed, fast asleep.
Today, Monday, we are at the school doing our usual thing all morning, swiftly followed by our last ‘Swazi-Dance’ practice before the BIG Day tomorrow where we will spend the entire morning doing all our class presentations and ‘authentic’ Swazi-Dance. Word has spread and the entire community is looking forward to it. A visiting group to Bulembu has never attempted a Swazi-Dance, so once again, we are making history! Don’t worry; you will all see the video 

Wednesday we will be all playing football and netball tournaments with the entire school and then winding up our project in the afternoon.

Then... Thursday morning we will be departing Bulembu  for the Kruger National Park  at 6am sharp. This should be a great opportunity to ‘wind-down’ and reflect on what has been an experience of a lifetime. We will all be very sad to leave Bulembu and the fantastic people here but some of us are already making plans to return.
So from the smallest, but possibly, greatest country in the Southern Hemisphere we hope you all have a great weekend.

With love, thoughts, hugs, prayers and whatever else you need... from us all,

Cheers from Team Bulembu.

Ps. We will communicate to Suki Binning (who will then communicate to you) on late Friday afternoon that we are all on-point to arrive, as per itinerary, back in the UK on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Valley of Hope

Pictured is us standing outside our main project, the Valley of Hope School.


It’s been an extremely busy week, and we’ve been getting down to some real hard graft, making friends with the kids at school, teaching, preparing our surprise for the kids, and most importantly working on our main project, the Valley of Hope School (VOH).

Monday was our first day on the projects, and we were all completely exhausted by the evening, but as we all agree, being tired is a sign of good work. We got really involved with the kids, making friends, playing games, and teaching them about Britain. We have been organising a show to do on Tuesday, and we’re all teaching our classes’ dances, songs and dramas to go in it. That’s also where our ‘little surprise’ comes in. Between working in the school and working on VOH, we have been working our little bodies hard learning traditional Swazi dances and songs to perform on our last day, Tuesday. They are very strenuous and tiring, but we have been told that the kids will love it.

In the afternoon, (After a tasty lunch and alot of hill-walking) we go over to VOH, and help prepare and clean it ready for the painting, which may start today. We’ve been planning a mural to go on one of the walls which will let us leave our mark, and help us to be remembered for years to come. The school is in surprisingly good condition, seeing as some of the classrooms have been left untouched for over forty years.

We’ve been falling into this schedule every day, but there is always something that changes, always something that goes wrong, or surprises us.

As Rose (Our group manager) says every morning, “Be flexible, be flexible, and be flexible”...

We couldn’t agree more!

On Monday night, we were all ready to leave the town as a bush fire, purposely started and used to fertilise the ground and remove the risk of a potential unexpected blaze, moved continually throughout the night across the border and towards Bulembu. The Bulembu fire-fighting team are used to handling situations like this and before we knew it, it was professionally diverted and successfully extinguished, but made for some great excitement!

We are continually amazed by all the people here, their faith, hard work and love for the world are helping them achieve a better country and better community. The guards for instance, are on patrol 18 hours at a time, and we have yet to see a single place un-watched by them. We’ve also been noticing ourselves becoming more grateful for everything we get. For instance, a ‘fatty’ (A little ball of oily bread made in the bakery) has become a choice treat, and we are willing to trek down the hills to go and buy them (Occasionally coming near to buying out the shop).

Our star spotting record is yet to be broken, as we have normally been sitting outside by the fire, as it is warmer than indoors, and far more beautiful. We continue to think of you, and have got a few shout-outs, as this blog is coming to you from The Clubhouse!

Sarah-Jane would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to her Granddad and Leo for today! And Alex would like to wish a Happy First Birthday to his Little Sister Emily for tomorrow!

That’s all for now from Swaziland, the next blog post will be on Friday!
Lots of love,

Team Bulembu

Monday, 2 August 2010

What An Amazing Weekend!

Pictured above is our friendly tour-guide Nathie.


It’s been a very busy few days here in Bulembu, but I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that we’re coping really well and adapting to everything the town has to throw at us. We’ve definitely found ourselves getting alot fitter climbing all the tall hills and mountains that connect the town together, and we’re all going to be body-builders by the time we get home.

On Friday afternoon we went to see the Bulembu Babies, a small organisation run by a truly inspirational woman by the name of Robin. For decades she has been feeding the homeless, and bringing orphaned babies into her home and pouring all her love out on to them. We were sat in her lounge talking when we asked how many she had at that moment, and we were extremely shocked to hear that behind the door there were thirty-five children, each of them looked after extremely well.

On Saturday we spent the morning with over a hundred young orphans, with whom we did crafts, makeup, various games and football, which was VERY tiring. The weather for the day could not have been better, and we witnessed more than a few red-faces by lunchtime. In the afternoon we went back down to the pitch expecting much the same thing, but we received a call that the football (Or ‘soccer’) coach couldn’t make his session, and there would be thirty-plus kids not being taught. So being our usual selves, we heartily volunteered and quickly found ourselves coaching ten teams, organising a tournament and playing a MASSIVE volunteers versus ‘the world’ game at the end. Dinner has never tasted so good.

Sunday was our relax day, and in the morning we went to Church. We were all very excited, and dressed up for it, and the service (Done in two languages at once) was very lively, and at times, very random (Random being half a sermon about the man’s uncle who sold bananas). Half of the team went off halfway through to Sunday school, the remainder of the team in the Church blessed by a rant comparing vodka to hot sauce. In the afternoon we took a hike into the forest, to find a waterfall, which turned out to be very beautiful, and a good test for our walking sticks that we have been modelling beautifully throughout the trip. We then were treated to a trip to the country lodge with free drinks, and a few hours to chill out before dinner, warming ourselves by the fire outside and inside.

This morning the real work began. We had our first day at school, and we were good little boys and girls, helping out in classes, making friends with the children and playing games. After school we went down to the football pitch, to practice our Swazi dances and songs, which we are saving as a surprise for the children next week. This afternoon we’ll be starting on our primary project, painting and restoring the Valley of Hope school, as per request of the school staff.

Every night we go up to the view-point, a beautiful point looking over the mountains, border and over to Piggs Peak. We’ve made a big game of spotting shooting stars, and the most we’ve seen in one night so far is twenty.

There is alot going on, which we’ll mention as we go on in the week, but as for now, we’d like a big shout out to Mischa, who today has his 37th Birthday! We’ve forgotten our shout-outs list (Oops.) so we’ll assure you all we’re all thinking of you every day (For five minutes at least), and we hope everything is remaining peachy.

That’s all for now folks, talk soon,

Team Bulembu

P.S. We’ve got hundreds of photo’s (And HOURS of video) but due to the connection we are unable to post more than one picture per blog.

Friday, 30 July 2010

We've Arrived Seabonga

We have arrived in Bulembu, and the journey here was amazing! The flight was nice and comfortable, we all enjoyed ourselves, and on the coach journey, South Africa and Swaziland treated us to some beautiful sights.

When we finally made it to Bulembu we were both happy that we had finally made it, and completely exhausted, so we met some of the Bulembu team, grabbed a bite to eat and went straight to bed.

We awoke the next morning to a lovely breakfast, and met our tour-guide, a local named Nati. He was really nice and talkative, and took as around all the local industries, such as the dairy, honey, the water bottling plant, clinic and the bakery. His local knowledge helped us in getting a better understanding of the history of Bulembu, as he is one of the original residents.

After all the walking up (and down) hills we settled into our rooms, and messed around in the clubhouse until bed.

This morning was really fun, as we went down to the local school, saw how everything worked, and played around with the kids at break-time, successfully making complete idiots of ourselves in the process.

After break we got into some in-depth planning with the head-teacher, Mr. Msekiwa, and planned out a brilliant programme for the team. Over the next week, we’ll be working in pairs in the classrooms in the morning, and then in the afternoons we’ll be going over to help paint the Valley of Hope school, which is currently unused, as it needs work, but they are looking to transfer pupils over there by October this year. Therefore this going to be our main project while we are here, and we are really looking forward to getting involved with, as they don’t have the manpower without us. This is a change to our itinerary, but we came here to help, and this is what they need, so we’re all very excited, and agree as a group that this is the better thing to do.

We hope that everything back home is going well, and we’ve planned to have some shout-outs over the next few posts, as we are all thinking of you.
Lucy would like to say happy birthday to her sister Rachael for the 31st, and wishes her all the best.

We cannot get into the office on weekends, so our next post will be on Monday afternoon, so we’ll see you then!
Lots of love,

Team Bulembu.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Only A Few Days Now!

It is now only a few days away, and with all the planning, fundraising and preparations coming to an end, the students cannot wait to get started, and commence the long journey to Bulembu.

It would be nice to know some of the feelings of people just before the great adventure begins, why not add your feeling to the comments on this posting.

The Bulembu Fund Raising Auction

A huge thank you goes out the so many people for the event that we held on the evening of Friday 16th July. We cannot thank everyone enough.

Starting first and foremost with the extraordinary generosity of the many people that contributed lots to the auction.

Secondly of course a huge thank you to everyone that came along and made bids on of auction lots and purchased the items.

Finally an overwhelming thank you to All of the team that were involved in organising such a great evening, through the planning preparations and execution on the evening.


The evening looks like it has raised a huge sum towards our fund raising in excess of £2,500

Monday, 21 June 2010

Eagle Radio Bulembu Interview

Eagle Radio Interview
The Eagle Radio studios in Guildford hosted 6 Court Moor students on Tuesday 15th June.  Saffron da Silva (Eagle Radio’s Head of News) had been contacted about the Court Moor Bulembu Voluntary Project and agreed to perform interview. 

After touring the studios and meeting some of the radio station’s presenters, the students the saw Saffron prepare and deliver the 4 o’clock news.  Saffron then spent 15 minutes interviewing the students.  From her recording, she will prepare a couple of 2 or 3 minutes snippets which are expected to be aired on the hourly news slots on Saturday 26th June from 0700h to noon.

Mark & Spencers Bulembu Bag Pack

M&S Bulembu Bag Pack
Well done to Tracey Goreing and the 15 students who attended the Bag Pack at Marks & Spencers at the Meadows in Sandhurst, on Saturday 19th June.  The students stood out in their school uniform during the 5 hour Bag Pack which raised a total of £661.02.  Thanks to M&S for permitting us to do the Bag Pack and also to the generous shoppers who donated their money and showed interest in the Court Moor Bulembu Voluntary Project.  The students also promoted the upcoming Grand Auction.

Well done everyone, a fantastic effort all round!

And a very special THANK YOU to all the generous public who donated to our cause.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Court Moor Bulembu Voluntary Project Grand Auction Evening

Our Grand Auction Evening is getting close. We are now selling tickets for this great event, taking place at Court Moor School on Friday 16th July 2010. Please contact Charlie or Debby whose details are at the foot of this post to purchase your tickets.

We have a fantastic list of Auction Lots, although not finalised our list so far includes:

1 Signed Kelly Holmes (for Bulembu fund) Signed shirt.
2 The French collection Wines 4 Bottles in presentation box
- 2 white 2 red.
3 Garden Design Consultation (approx 1hr) On site consultation
for your garden by qualified designers.
4 2 Hours Garden Maintenance. Garden Maintenance by qualified
5 Signed ball by Ben Fogle and his trainer. Qinetic ball signed by
Ben Fogle and his personal trainer.
6 Astronomy evening Star gazing evening with a qualified 1st class
astronomer, using a high-tech telescope
7 Babysitting for 3 nights
8 2 x 4 Hours Ironing - 2 lots
9 Holiday pet minding - Not Dogs, after 19th April
10 £40 worth of vouchers at the DeHavilland Arms -Vouchers could
get you a delicious meal for two and a bottle of wine.
11 Professional nails (gel)Hands and feet done or 2 sets of hands
12 Pony + trap ride to the pub and back Local (Fleet) pony +trap
ride for 2 people to pub (w/e) 1st Drink paid.
13 Babysitting 1 offer to babysit so parents can go out
14 Shopping 1 offer to go and do a weekly shop for someone
15 ICT lesson Teach people how to use basic e-mail, Internet ect.
16 West Ham Shirt West Ham shirt with ‘Diamanti 32’ on the back
17 Cross Trainer Kettler Zenith cross trainer.
18 Round of Golf for 4 A round of golf for 4 people at Hampton
Court Palace Golf Club
19 Amy Williams Signed Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Shirt.
Amy Williams, Paul Dickenson, Steve Cram, Graham Bell, Ed Leigh
and Colin Bryes
20 Ride in a Ferrari -To be finalised
21 Vegetable garden consultation Your garden will be consulted by
potato specialist and fruit and veg expert, Alan Wilson.
22 Ikon Hair style Cut/Style and blow dry with lead hairdresser,
23 Elvetham Hotel Cream tea afternoon for 2 Afternoon tea in the
Drawing room or the garden terrace, with home made scones/cakes/pastries.
24 Village Hotel Night stay and Breakfast. With use of leisure
facilities, Usually £85 a night. Weekend Only. To be finalised
25 Home Cooked dinner for 8 - To be Finalised
26 Horns Dinner Meal to the value of £25New expiry date to be confirmed
27 Tennis Lesson 1 hours coaching from Local qualified coach,
Maureen Clackett at Avondale
28 1 off return airport taxi service - Ford galaxy service for 5
people + luggage to Heathrow/Gatwick, return.
29 Calshot climbing voucher - Half price climbing session at Calshot
activities centre on a Saturday morning
30 Family Photographic session - To be finalised
31 Anne Fine books Singed copy of 'Madame Doubtfire', with a copy
of The Road of Bones.
32 White Manchester United Roney Football Shirt + Book
'The Lost Babes' Brand new Rooney '10 Manchester United shirt
(XL), with book 'The lost Babes - Manchester United and the
Forgottern Victims of Munich'
33 Ginetta Touring Cars 2 tickets to race meeting Includes entry
to the circuit and pit lane and light refreshments throughout the
34 Signed, framed photo of Roy Keane - Signed Photo of Roy Keane
playing for Ireland with lovely frame
35 Signed Photo of Alex Young, lifting the FA cup with Everton
team mates Photo of Alex Young, one of the most skillful British
fooballers of all time lifting the FA cup in 1966 for everton.

There really is something for everyone, so reserve your tickets
and come along to what promises to be a great evening. Entrance
Ticket includes a Ploughmans Supper and Glass of Wine, for a
small cost of £6.50 per person. We will also be providing a
cash bar throughout the event.

Your can purchase your tickets in advance from Charlie
or Debby on Tel. 07870 822515 or 01252 682216

email. deb.magrioverend@ntlworld.com