At the end of February we introduced you to Ben Dorsey. Ben is an engineer from Canada who took up the adventure in November 2014 of investing 12 months of this time and skill into Bulembu Ministries Swaziland.
It is hard to believe that Ben has wrapped up his time in Bulembu already, but we can with all honesty say that his contribution to Bulembu has been priceless. We are sad that his time here has come to an end, but also incredibly delighted to share the final installment of his adventure with you all. He sent us an update from California, where him and Kristen were preparing final arrangements for their wedding!
We cannot believe that your time in Bulembu has already come to an end! How has it been to wrap up everything?
I know, it’s gone by really fast. Our last month in Bulembu was difficult, especially for Kristen as she was packing up the past 4 years of her life into 3 suitcases. Luckily, I am a typical man and was able to offer her lots of space in my much more vacant suitcases!
September and October ended up going by very quickly. The work on the new High School addition was in full swing, and by the time I left Bulembu there was only small detail work to be completed and classes could have even started in them if they had needed!
Management had asked that I compile a report detailing what I recommend that needs to be worked on over the next 5 years in Bulembu, or a 5 year strategic infrastructure plan. We were able to look at things from water to pumping, to electricity, to road repairs and future playing fields and gardens. There are many improvements and innovations that can come to Bulembu in the near future, and I’m excited to have hopefully helped lay some groundwork for that.
You probably have a ton of highlights from your year, but are there any highlights that stand out from your year in Bulembu?
Looking back on my time in Bulembu, I can easily say that the highlight was working with the people day to day. The guys I worked with around town were always good for a laugh, and the kids were always beyond friendly and happy.
You were always very real about challenges you faced in Bulembu, and clear about the realities that go along with volunteering in Bulembu. Any particular challenge(s) that stand out now that you have completed your year here?
The biggest challenges I experienced were most definitely those dealing with communication. Internet, phone, and even transportation was difficult to come by at times. It’s instantly apparent why there is such a thing as “African time”. Dealing with government agencies to transfer my car ownership, and to get Kristen’s police clearance documentation was frustrating and confusing to say the least. Thankfully through prayer and petition everything fell into place and we left with no worries!
What has been the hardest part about wrapping things up and returning home?
Our last week was difficult, especially for Kristen who had worked with the kids for so many years. I became emotional just seeing everyone else become emotional with Kristen! Just seeing how much she meant to the children and the school made me thankful again that we had been brought together in this place. It was sad saying goodbye to friends who we spent hours with every single day. We can only pray that one day our paths will cross again.
One cool thing Kristen and I were able to do was to combine all of our clothes, food, and other personal items that we couldn’t take back with us. I called a local pastor whose church is up in Malanda (a small village in the hills above Bulembu) and asked him to come collect it all and to distribute the food and clothing to those people who could really use it. Much to my surprise, after arriving back in the US, I received multiple photos from Pastor Enoch, of the new owners holding the donated goods. It was so cool to see people who were really excited to have the things we couldn’t use anymore.
I was also able to make a special care package for 2 of the Swazi guys I worked with on a regular basis. One guy is an older man named Bhanana. All I did was give him my old work boots and bucket hat. He can barely speak English but was so happy he immediately turned to his co-workers and said in SiSwati, “Look what Mr. Ben has given me!” It makes me wish I left a whole lot more with them.
Any final words from you?
It is vital to have a good support structure at home when you embark on a journey like this, and I want to thank everyone who supported me through thoughts, prayers, emails, and text messages over the past year. They all made a difference to me, which means that I was able to do my job in Bulembu more effectively. That also means what they did for me, they also did for the people of Swaziland, and believe me, they are saying thank you as well.
Life is unpredictable, but if Kristen and I have our way we will try our best to make it back to Bulembu to visit everyone who made it so hard for us to leave. It’s clear more than ever that God has a plan for all of us, and I’m excited to share with my family and friends some of the unexplainable things that have happened to me here in Bulembu.
We really hope that you have enjoyed sharing in Ben’s journey here in Bulembu, and that it will perhaps inspire you and others in your search for the perfect volunteer opportunity. If you are interested in volunteering in Bulembu or would like more information about bringing a missions team to Bulembu in 2016, email our Teams & Volunteer Coordinator – email@example.com