The Hairdressers
The hairdressers were kindly accommodated by Zizo House of Hair in Mthatha, which is owned by Fungi Jaxa-Gwebindlala, one of our Board Members. Here they are receiving training, completely free of charge by experienced hairdressers. Buyelwa Mbikwana and Ntembeko Nomtati from the village of Mgojweni were the first team to receive the training. They are being instructed in a professional hairdressing environment and are being taught hair styling, braiding, working with extensions and of course, hair washing, cutting, colouring and shaving. Two more teams will receive training in the coming months.

In addition to the hairdressing training, the LME project participated in the Old Mutual Financial “On The Money” training day. Although the tourist-related businesses that operate around the Bulungula Lodge are already established, this project aims to support and grow those businesses and we used the opportunity to invite them to participate, along with the Essential Oil farmers, in the financial training day. The canoes, restaurant, village tour, craft shop and massage businesses were among those that participated. The tips on establishing savings groups and advice on how to build up towards a set goal were well received. We look forward to the follow up session that is being planned by Old Mutual in the last week of this month.

Collecting Materials
The Craft Shop has found that the most popular print with tourists is the Mandela traditional shweshwe print. Unfortunately, all the material shops in Mthatha have run out of this precious commodity. The sewing group managed to find a supplier in East London, ordered the material through the post, made the 6 hour round trip to Mthatha to deposit payment and then repeated the trip to collect the materials when they arrived in Mthatha the following week – not easy logistics for a deep rural village-based project where there is little experience of banking, postal systems and English language skills! The group successfully overcame all these challenges and the goods arrived safely and a flurry of measuring cutting and sewing began…

In the meantime, the homestay project got going on making its furniture. Mattresses were ordered and beds were made by Kholekile Ntlanganiso, the village’s a self taught carpenter. The project will start with homestays in two different homesteads. These homesteads are located about 2kms from the Bulungula Lodge. We hope this will create a setting in which guests will become immersed in traditional Xhosa village life.

Finally, our first film-making training has just started with the arrival of the very talented Heather Gordon, a Director on the set of the popular E-TV programme, Rhythm City, no less! Khuselo Gcelu and Saziso Sinoni are very busy learning filming, sound, editing and interviewing skills for the production of the “How to” DVDs that this project will produce.