By Josie Redmonds
Christmas seems such a long time ago now, with Alice and her family arriving back in February and the Permaculture course keeping me busy, already we are in April and I am nearing my time to go to the UK for a short break. After 5 busy months here without Alice it will be well appreciated, but I know already with all the activity and impetus that has returned with her, that it is going to be a super busy time for her.
We were extremely busy over Xmas with both a mixture of short termers passing through and a good no of friends as well. Our aim was to get people involved and ‘make your own Christmas happy’, by all cooking the one thing you would love to eat at Christmas. Hayley got us into the festive mood with carols and brilliant Bloody Marys at 11 am then we all cooked communally, ending up with a treat we couldn’t have imagined; served up at around 3pm. Daniela and Alekse from Mexico, who were on their way up to Ruwarwe to volunteer with Phunzira, cooked us beautiful tacos, we had roast lamb, home made mint sauce, sweet potato pie, Potato Dauphanois, roast chickens and much more. A brilliant effort by everyone involved.
New year saw more of the same, Nkhata Bay is always packed, with people sleeping on everything that can be loosely termed a bed, and we decided to start early and had a brilliant barbeque down at the bar ; Aussie new year. We then headed off and hired a boat to go visit all the other lodges and bars in town on a new year pub crawl. Vuvuzelas and on board music made for quite a memorable night and we ended up in town for new years party at Kaya Papaya.
A lovely couple who rocked our way over Xmas was Steve and Gayle and they decided to stay on for a bit afterwards and helped us out with some general maintenance and beautifying around the place. As well as generally tidying the place up, and having us some signs made, Gayle helped me finish off chalet one with some nifty work on the sewing machine and some beautiful wall hangings. There is a small deck out front for people to sit, and once we get the garden growing around that place it will be a beautiful secluded corner of Butterfly. Butterfly also had their fair share of lovely musical guests though, Neil an English guy doing a music project in Lilongwe, and with Chiozo and old friend Josh as well it meant many great nights sat out on the deck under the stars, listening to the guitar, singing and the gentle waves of the lake.
With all that out of the way we could concentrate on more serious stuff in the New Year. Unfortunately a ReSCOPE workshop we were supposed to be doing up at Chikale Primary from the 2-6th January was cancelled, but will be re-scheduled for later in the year. Ha yley who had been around from before Xmas found her groove and was a great help to me here organizing the media centre and organizing us in general in terms of all future volunteers. As more and more volunteers get involved, there might be times when myself or Alice are not around or fully available I think it is really useful for potential volunteers to have some guidelines of things that can be done, general ideas and contacts of what can work and what doesn’t. These ideas can be continually added to by future volunteers so that no one person is working in isolation but as part of a wider vision for the youth and community here in Nkhata Bay. And with her project manager back ground Hayley got a lot of work done on this.
She also found time as well to start with Elina to meet with a local women’s group to start a peanut butter project. Choosing the group down at Kakumbi to work with she has thrown herself fully into it, meeting them several times a week and doing the sales pitch on everyone who walks through the door, or even past it. It helps that the peanut butter is absolutely amazing, with no added ingredients, just roasted peanuts and a tiny bit of oil. Hayley has been visiting all the lodges to set up a display and getting a weekly production and selling routine. The FAWN’s group here at Butterfly will regularly collect 6 a week and there is potential as well to sell to other nutrition projects and HIV groups.
At the moment they are selling all they are producing so the aim next will be to increase their numbers while at the same time finding new places to sell. . Hayley also got friend s of hers organised at home helping out with the project by selling peanut butter cookies and fundraising so that hopefully she will be able to source a plate mill so that they can make this step in production . She also must also be mentioned for her lasting contribution to the menu here at Butterfly, as we all became addicts of her Rocky Road chocolate extravaganza. I would try and describe it but it is just impossible to do it justice!
Alice arrived back at the start of February with her new beautiful baby daughter Thokozani, and loads of fresh impetus behind her to get all the old ideas up and running again as well as loads more equipment and ideas for the new nursery school up at Dindano and the new disabled building nearby in Mpamba. That is all taking shape as the initial building is being bought and Colin has arrived to help with the extension.
The rains continued at pace however and this meant we could continue with the gardens both around the site and at Chikale. Standard seven came out every Friday afternoon and we continued to plant more trees and different plants as well as control the water and protect the soil. Angelina, a girl coming on the PDC, arrived early and got herself fully involved in many different areas of Butterfly. Helping Alice with the special needs group, growing in numbers every week it seems, and now on its new day of Friday, rather than the previous Monday. She also donated and went out on a ‘new beds for old heads’ delivery and helped with the kids in the youth club The Permaculture course was on its way though and with lots of organizing and last minute panics, it started on the 4t March 2013.
This year it was run with more trainers, Tichafa Makovere and Leiza Swennen as well as being helped out by Kenneth Mwakasungulu. There were a number of International participants, as well as Malawians from around the country. The Education Department had also sent two people and we had people there from the schools we were trying to work with. It was a brilliant group and they really come together over the twelve days as they try things out and learn and fail together. In Francis, Butterfly’s new gardener was able to also take part in the course which will help him as he works around Butterfly and the Primary schools.
As well as doing the practical at Chikale Primary, this year we also spent one of the days up at Bwelero First Primary school, where we had heard the headmaster and some of the teachers had an interest in Permaculture. Two of their teachers also attended the course so hopefully we can start to get more schools in the area involved and in a healthy competition and sharing network. With two PDC’s now successfully held here at Butterfly then I hope this can become a yearly event and really boost the long term Permaculture initiatiatives in the area.
We have also had some really brilliant donations in the last couple of months. A brilliant bike was donated by someone who had done his own fundraising while cycling down from Nairobi, but then wanted to leave the bike somewhere where it will be used. It is perfect for our projects and volunteers to get out and about a bit more. Thanks so much. Hayley also got her friends sending things for the media room and we have had some brilliant equipment donated so a massive thanks. A group of students from Belgium are also bringing two lap tops full with all the software that we need for the media room, which will be the first time we have had all the required software. Brilliant. They are going to do some lessons as well when they arrive at the end of the month and leave worksheets for the community here to practice from. This will be a great help for the future of the media centre and its potential for being used full time.
Another major change has been the youth club turning into a small primary school for Ezmeekie and about ten local kids as well. Run by Leonart a qualified teacher from Holland, it runs normal school times from 7.30 till 11.30. It makes brilliant use of the youth club in a time that was previously vacant and also offers a brilliant opportunity for primary teachers to come and get involved without the full madness of the local Primary school. Please if anyone is interested in taking over where Leaonart leaves in September then please contact Alice on[email protected]
There are kids in the recording studio every day, and most of them are improving their skills. One guy Ian wrote and recorded a brilliant song which we would love to do more work on with him, and it is also brilliant opportunity for volunteers to come on and pass on skills in music, djiing etc.. Music is part of life here in Nkhata Bay and is a brilliant positive things for the kids to spend their time on. We also have a new employee, and friend at the media centre, Dustan. He had been volunteering here for a couple of months but has now agreed to come on board full time for at least six months while he is saving for college. This will be a great help, especially while I am away to keep the various projects open. Joel and his friend Uchindami are still coming from Mzuzu to hold day workshops with the radio group and with more people joining up all the time it is important we keep the momentum going. Hopefully work will be done to fundraise for the proper radio equipment while in the UK as we are expecting the license to have been granted and possibly a building by time I get back.
Ophanuel has taken his much deserved yearly holiday, but is still passing by and helping us out in so many ways. We are taking on another lovely lady, Eileen, who will take over some of Ophanuels responsibilities, as they just seem to get more and more. With her concentrating on the lodge more this will free Ophanuel up to do things with the projects and in the community as he loves to do and will be brilliant at. We also have a new bar man Pius, who is a breath of fresh air down there and has made the place his own. It all bodes well for an exciting year here at Butterfly and please remember if you feel you are in a place where there are potential volunteers then please let me know and I will send you on a Butterfly Poster. With all these things going on here we really do need as many people as we can get now.
“Hidden in our hearts is a longing to live deeply and with purpose and joy, to know and to be known, to be concerned with another; and to make a difference. In this dance of giving and receiving, we create our community, our World and ourselves”