Greetings from Swaziland! Once a year at the end of May the world descends on Swaziland. I am not taking about the Umhlanga ceremony (which if you google Swaziland will probably be the first image you see…try it), the Incwala Ceremony or the ever popular Marula festival, I am talking about the MTN Bushfire Music Festival which has the distinction of being one of the biggest music festivals in Southern Africa. About 5-6,000 people attend from all of over the world to see great international musical acts. This year we have a very special opportunity to make an impact in the lives of refugee women during the Bushfire festival.
As you know Addy and I do most of our work at a refugee camp. These refugees come mostly from Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo. These refugees live in destitute conditions at the camp, often not getting enough food to feed themselves. This multiplies if they have children, with many mothers skipping meals so that their children can eat. We are announcing a project that can help women put food on the table in a sustainable way.
If you have never been to Africa, it is massive. Each country has its own distinct culture, language and cuisine. Bushfire celebrates music, culture and cuisine from all over Africa and the world by renting stalls to vendors to sell their unique food. Last year there was Italian, Indian, American, German food being sold as well as stalls from Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa. With my help, camp residents applied for and were accepted to sell food at one of these stalls provided by the festival. The stall will feature a unique dish from each of the major countries represented (Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo). This is an extremely exciting project. This project piggy-backs on a week-long income generation workshop that Addy is doing with the women at the camp to learn canning, baking and peanut butter making. The stall will be run and the food will be cooked 100% by refugee women and all of the profits will go back to refugee women themselves and to help them start a co-op to implement these income generation projects.
With that said selling at a festival of this size is a bit daunting. We want to make this funded 100% independently by outside donors or investors. This is where you come in. These women are refugees and we as Peace Corps Volunteers do not have the kind of capitol to raise this amount of money. We are looking to you to help cover the cost of the ingredients, serving trays, transport and decoration of the stall. We know this is going to be quite expensive. If you can donate anything, a little bit (thanks to a generous 1:9 exchange rate) goes a long way here. For example if you donate twelve dollars you have donated 108E this side. 100 dollars is close to 1,000 E.
The best way to donate is through my paypal account. It is easy. Click on the send money tab and type in my e mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I know you are probably sick of getting hit for money from your Volunteer friends but without your support there is no way we can pull this off. If you have any questions on donating or how to use paypal to send donations please let me know.
Ngiyabonga Kakhulu (thank you tooooo much)
Ryan and Addy