Bordered by South Africa and Mozambique, the Kingdom of Swaziland has been inhabited by humans since pre-history. Populated principally with the descendants of the southern Bantu people who arrived probably in
the 15th century in a migration from Central Africa, the country is, for all its physical beauty, being ravaged by the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world. Swaziland is in the teeth of a crisis.
The town of Bulembu was once the site of a chrysolite (asbestos) mine with a population of 10,000. Eventually the mining company, as well as subsequent mining companies, went bankrupt and left Bulembu a ghost town with as few as 50 people remaining.
Simultaneous with this was a massive increase in the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland. Statistics reveal that in ten years the infection rate grew by a staggering 900%. Nearly 40% of the population is now infected.This has left an entire generation of children orphaned and vulnerable.
The abandoned town was purchased by not-for-profit Bulembu Ministries Swaziland with the intention to turn it into a safe haven for children who would otherwise be left to survive or perish completely on their own. Bulembu International of Vancouver has acted to assist BMS by raising money, giving guidance and bringing the town to the attention of generous donors worldwide.
In 2010 Spirit of the West’s John Mann visited Bulembu to see its workings first hand and experience what the town has become under the leadership of people with vision. He left a changed man.
His head filled with memories of spending mornings holding babies, singing to them, of conversations with remarkable new friends, of the amazing environment that had been provided for children who would likely otherwise be abandoned, John was moved to do something more.