Many customers have been asking me how and why I became involved with Bulembu, so I wanted to share the story.
I was approached a couple of months ago by the team who were putting together a large fundraiser for Bulembu International in Edmonton (there is a great network of local supporters). They were organizing a private dinner with The Tenors, and wanted to have chocolate favours for the guests. They approached me with this paid engagement, but while we were doing the photo shoot for the Bulembu Collection, I learned more about the project that was being done in this small town on the other side of the world.
One of the comments made in the photoshoot was that it costs $9,000 to restore a house in this old mining town to accommodate 6 more orphans (350 have already been saved, whom sadly wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Bulembu). I was inspired by the concept of using enterprise in the town to generate revenue to support the childcare, and provide them with a world-class education so that they could be the future leaders of their nation. Sustainability, faith and education are at the core of the project, and with this in mind, the goal is to create a town that will be self-sustainable by the year 2020. Brilliant!
As I was driving home from work that night, it hit me- I could produce an additional 450 boxes of the collection, and sell them for $20 each, with 100% of the proceeds going to the restoration of one house ($9,000). As a small business, I don’t have a lot of resources, but I thought that I could spread the word about Bulembu using chocolate and my small enterprise as the platform.
The only challenge with the goal was that I only had 6 weeks to get it off the ground and sell 450 boxes! There was no need to worry- all of the collections sold before we even started production (I guess it’s not a huge sell- eat fine chocolate to restore a house!). A big thank you to everyone for the support- I hope you loved the collection (photo below).
The two fundraising events that were organized by a local team of philanthropists was a huge success. The 20 children that traveled all of the way from Bulembu to sing with the Tenors stole my heart and the heart of everyone they met. I was honored to have them visit the chocolate studio for a tasting and tour (photos below by Dale MacMillan). I wish them a safe journey back to Swaziland, and I hope to see them again soon!
For more information on how you can help this project, visit http://bulembu.org. Spread the word! My parents are heading to Bulembu in February 2014 as ‘voluntourists’, so this blog will be updated with images and stories of their journey while they are there. Click here to view a posting from their trip.
Before & After Photo of the Transformation made possible by the JACEK Team and customers:
Without the contributions of the global community, many of these children would not be alive. It makes me so happy to hear the aspirations that the boys living in ‘the house that chocolate built’ have; dreams that likely would not be thinkable without the opportunities that Bulembu has given them.
- I would like to be a police officer when I grow up – 7 years
- I would love to be a TV Presenter one day – 13 years
- I would like to study to be a businessman when I leave school – 16 years
- I dream of becoming an electrical engineer one day – 17 years
- I would like to either be an accountant or a technical engineer one day – 15 years
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the project!