The Mbuluzi Game Reserve Community Development Fund
The Objectives of the Fund
To support orphans and vulnerable children in the Lubombo area by providing them with school fees/uniforms and supplemental food/other necessary items. The Fund’s mechanism for achieving this objective is to gather and distribute cash donations for these purposes. Mbuluzi may also donate in-kind items at our discretion. Fundraising will take the form of MGR budget allocations, voluntary shareholder donations, social networking donations, office-based tourist donations and website marketing. As and when possible, MGR will utilize existing entities through which to work; this will improve our success rate and create more accountability.
Beneficiaries of the fund
The fund has been set up to support members of the community around Mbuluzi Game Reserve, namely vulnerable/orphaned and other appropriate recipients. As well as the Maphiveni resident Point.
Management of the Fund
The Fund will be managed by a subcommittee composed of Mbuluzi shareholders, Mbuluzi staff and others if elected by MGR’s manager. The subcommittee will be responsible for approving all disbursements, and it meets twice a year to assess available funds and disbursements.
The finances of the fund sit on the balance sheet of the Mbuluzi Game Reserves financial statement that is audited independently annually. Recipients will report to MGR at least annually on the use of the Funds.
Learner Bursaries Program
The community development fund sponsors a number of students from the neighbouring Maphiveni community. Initially the fund started with only primary school learners but we have continued to support the learners who have moved onto high school. The learners who are sponsored are chosen by the fund committee through the local Family Harvest Church as they keep good records on learners from Maphiveni. The main criteria looked at when choosing new learners in the program are vulnerability and the level of likely hood to succeed.
The program has been hugely successful with many of the learners who would probably fallen out of studies not only continuing but excelling at school.
Mbuluzi Game Reserve Bicycle Donation Project
The project is an initiative by Mbuluzi Game Reserve whereby used bicycles are given to young learners in the Shewula community bordering Mbuluzi. The first shipment to be given out is around 450 bicycles.
Where do the Bicycles come from?
The donated bicycles come from Bicycles for Humanity Seattle, USA. Used bicycles are collected, packed and shipped to Durban by the group. The process was started by a relationship being built between Mbuluzi Game Reserve and the Rotary Club of Empangeni (Principally, Fulvio Pace) who have been involved in similar projects in South Africa.
Who gets the bicycles?
Mbuluzi is using the assistance of the Shewula Community Trust to identify a number of primary and high Schools with learners who have exceptionally long distances to travel to attend School. Those learners will be given a bicycle in exchange for a promise to look after the bicycle and to learn about the importance of conservation and the environment. The bicycles are hoped to be able to help young learners in Shewula who have long distances to walk to school every day. Some of the smallest bicycles are given to the care centre in Maphiveni for very young children to learn to ride a bicycle in turn help in their development.
Challenges of such a project?
Although the bicycles and shipping to Durban was donated it is still challenging getting the container brought into Swaziland and even offloading it from the truck takes some effort. There are also still some substantial costs to be covered for the project to work. Namely the VAT that is charged on both import and shipping costs.
Luckily the very generous help from our local community and company shareholders made it all possible.
The biggest challenge however has been putting all the bicycles together and servicing them so that they are usable. This has been done solely by two of our own staff members in their own time. Mandlenkosi Motsa the Admin Manager and Nkosingiphile Masilela a Game Ranger have put a huge amount of effort into this.
Developing young riders
It is also hoped that the project will help in developing promising young cyclists who will start to participate in the growing sport of cycling in the country.
School Visit Program
This is an initiative whereby each year the game reserve invites the grade 7 students from Jack Hersov Primary school with staff to come for a day visit to the game reserve. Many of the learners are from our neighbouring community settlement Maphiveni. The group of usually around 30 people is split into three groups and rotate through three activities.
Learners and school staff are taken on a bush walk with a ranger to look at and learn about the many interesting little things that can be seen in the bush on foot. As well as this they have the opportunity to learn a bit about the role of a ranger in the game reserve and the challenges we face on trying to protect the wildlife.
The learners and school staff are taken out on a game viewer for a drive to look at the larger animals and learn about them. Many of the students have never seen our wildlife first hand yet they live right on the border to the game reserve.
The learners and school staff are also given a talk and a slide show about ecology and the importance of conservation and the preservation of our wildlife. This is an interactive presentation where students ask and answer questions about the game reserve, our animals and also the relationship the game reserve has with their community.
Swazi 3 Reserves MTB Race
Mbuluzi is very proud to be a land access partner in the largest MTB race in the country The Swazi 3 Reserves MTB Classic. Mbuluzi not only donates access to the reserve for the race but is also involved in the planning, organisation and running of the event.
The race is held annually and is a fantastic opportunity to explore Mbuluzi Game Reserve and neighbouring reserves on a bike. The event is very well organized and there are four routes that cater for all levels of riding fitness.
The proceeds of the race itself are used for a number of community projects in the areas surrounding the reserve.