On August 21st of 2010 I flew to Africa. I had been contacted by a member of Bulembu International, an organization responsible for turning an abandoned mining town in Bulembu, Swaziland into a vibrant home for abandoned children. In doing so it helped to create a wonderful community. The town was purchased by a group of entrepreneurial philanthropists in 2006 and from that point on Bulembu has never stopped its efforts to revitalize and transform this beautiful place.
I was asked to come to Bulembu to see the town, to witness the work that was being done and to meet the children and the people involved in its transformation. I believe that the hope was that I would be moved to use my musical connections to create an awareness of Bulembu by encouraging other musicians to be brought on board to help raise awareness and funds.
I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that Swaziland was in a desperate state due to having the highest HIV/Aids rate in the world. What I didn’t know was how I would be affected by meeting the orphaned children.
Many of them had been abused, sexually and physically, some by their own relatives. Some of the kids are HIV/AIDS positive. The truly remarkable thing about them is that they have a huge capacity for laughter and fun. Their love of music and dance is unbelievable. I think I laughed longer and harder in this small town then I ever have in my sheltered home in Vancouver. They know they are fortunate. I think we often forget our good fortune.
I had a conversation with a couple of the Bulembu staff. I asked them what was needed the most. They responded by saying, “we need books”. Upon my return I told this to my wife Jill. Jill works in my favourite book store, Kidsbooks, in Kitsilano, Vancouver. She spoke with the owners Phyllis Simon and Kelly Mckinnon. They immediately jumped on board to offer their experience and enthusiasm to help send Bulembu a library of brand new books.
I am asking you for your help. Spirit of the West has generously donated money for the library but we are shy of our goal.
We have a container booked to leave in December and we want to make the dream of a Bulembu Library for the kids and the families of this town a reality.
Please help us by going to the Bulembu website where you can get more information about Bulembu. Below you will find the link that will allow you to purchase books for the community of Bulembu. The Kidsbooks book sellers have been selecting books based on information given to them by the Bulembu Staff. This is important as it is easy to make a cultural mistake by selecting a culturally inappropriate book choice. For example in a meeting with two of the Bulembu staff in September at Kidsbooks, one of the staff members pointed at a book with an owl on the cover. He said that in Swaziland, owls are considered to be a very bad omen and that a child would be extremely frightened by the image.
The children of Bulembu are being well cared for. They are well fed and clothed. What we need from you is your help in giving them an opportunity to have access to a wide variety of books. If you love reading this is truly a no brainer. A $20.00 donation will buy a book for the library.
Thanks for your help.
Please click on this link to make your tax deductible donation to the library