By Alice Leaper.
To be back in Malawi was less of a shock than England was, when it was the first time going back in three years. We came back feeling refreshed and remembering that this is the place I want to be, busy season at Butterfly is always my favorite, when I see volunteers do so much and bounce ideas off one another. We have a chance to split across projects, set new ones up and put love into long existing ones.
Colin Johnson returned from Oldbury, this time armed with many goodies for his mates, like football boots and his hard raised funds for his projects. He took charge and employed three local guys in Mpamba where I had just secured land and purchased an existing building. It was last year that I met a certain disabled teacher in the town and we have collaborated on his dream of a central meeting place for his fellow physically impaired friends. The centre will run itself eventually but with your help we will support the first year. Training in areas of carpentry, catering and finally computers, all trainees will be disabled and where possible also trainers. Colin got to work organizing, collecting, delivering, mediating disputes and getting stuck in the mud (a lot!!). He was given the task of extending the building and as always he completed. The building now has an extra room for the tailors and an attractive outside kitchen. Since his departure the first trainer, Anwell, who has no use of his legs, has started the carpentry school making furniture for the space. A big sign has been built to attract potential customers. I was also very lucky to benefit personally from CJ’s skills as he put an extension on my room for little Ezmeekie.
My next visitor was from even closer to home, my mum, she arrived with her fresh impetus as ever and her continued support and ideas for Butterfly. Please have a look at our Facebook page for her latest fundraising extravaganzas. She was a little surprised when I told her she was to run a 2 day course for 10 nursery school teachers but threw herself in to what she knows best. The Gulugufe and Dindano dino teachers were there of course as well as Chindozwa and Chihame, she also brought lots of toys and resources to fuel the teachers.
One of the first jobs when I came back was to appoint new teachers for Dindano nursery, this was a hard job as so many had been volunteering for a long time. We ended up stretching funds and selecting four, Gertrude, Anita, Massey and Tasiana. The course introduced the stations idea and as always learning through play.
Sadly Zione from Gulugufe has had to move, so a sad goodbye as she was there from the beginning 5 years ago. We will miss her patience and ability with the younger class but we will escort her out with our annual mock mini people graduation party. We have already found her replacement from a much loved youth club member, Maria’s mum and also Isaac the football coach’s mum.
Dindano nursery also saw great commitment, Mark and Magdalena went up and stayed in the small room attached, for volunteers to sleep up in the village. I think they found their time there equally valuable as the contribution they made. They stayed for 6 weeks and helped with the 90 plus children that attend daily. They also did afternoon sessions with English lessons, sports, as well as making really positive connections with the chief and community. Butterfly offers a very safe and comfortable place to stay, but Dindano shows you real life out in Malawi and I think they have opened the doors to a great experience for our future volunteers.
Gemma came as part of her Development course which was an interesting prospect and I hope to attract more students to guide and be mentors to people here. She was also a trained occupational therapist so as well as getting involved in all our projects she also was very focused with the disabled group. She was passionate about raising awareness and also made a banner in Tonga saying disability is not inability, and going into schools and clubs with fun interactive classes on the issue.
James and Aly were the next gang not to go unmentioned for their charisma, they set about with a big signage mission, made butterfly beautiful without getting any guinea pigs killed! as they ran around their garden studio. They worked in Bristol with children with special needs so were very useful with the Friday group.
I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for grouping the next guys together although they all deserve a massive individual thanks. Teah, Stuart, Lily, Elmer, Ruth and Ben worked in all the kids projects as well as media set up, as now Dustan has gone. They also had grand designs on our kitchen and freshened it up with a lick of paint. Both nursery schools also saw their artistic talents. With exam season extra tutoring was also useful for older students. They made a very welcoming atmosphere here at Butterfly that was so unique, many people keep asking after them as new faces were introduced to Butterfly through them.
Thanks to funds from England we were also able to help the youth club with a new playground and numbers are back up to 30 a day. We had another very successful sports day with great prizes, thanks again Tracy, involving swimming, dancing, drawing, limbo, running.
I was also invited to a meeting with Government Officials to enter our disabled youth into a sports day. We had training once a week with Martha on the community ground which helped with awareness. Malawi has been one of the two countries selected to help with disabilities. Their main objective to appeal to parents to open about their disabled children, get to hospital for better treatment and get each individual an ID. This sounds great in theory but the budget was high and the event quite low profile. Our team was the only one formed with all disabled and others had no disabled representatives, so in an unfair world we do not win, but it was a great day out and a prize was still given and it also introduced us to new members.
Another group to have new members is the FAWNS which has grown form6 -22 members. They now come for a workshop every week and receive a food package on a three week rotation. They all eat her every week sampling international volunteers and trusted manager Ophanuel get involved with new recipes and cooking. They then outreach to other groups the lessons they have been taught. This was helped with a generous donation…….Vivian, a homeopath has also spent many hours with them as clients and supplied remedies for their ailments which have all given positive feedback.
More small businesses have been supported over this period. Hayley’s efforts of peanut butter continue and amidst the squabbles they still produce a brilliant product which is of high demand. I have found buyers stretching to Mzuzu and they are now proud owners of 2 grinders. Still we want you back though Hayles. Caroline, a lovely lady who was a reflexologist came and taught four local ladies massage which is for ladies only but another blooming trade. (never has it been so tough to support a good cause) the FAWN s are selling paraffin and cakes and breeding goats to share. A few ladies have been clothes bundles to get to market and trade. I have made a new friend with a lady who works at the hospital who has great ideas of how to help her community and has many existing projects. We plan to work together to make a small take away restaurant at the hospital. The profits will go to those in need and she is exposed to some real horror stories so knows who to give to.
We have decided to give a new timetable to the internet room. It seems a bit gang like in their at times where young guys queue up for Facebook. We want to encourage more researching and learning to a wider audience. We have teach Tuesdays, women’s Wednesdays, Facebook free Friday and starter Saturdays. Annie and Wilson chiziwa kindly donated well needed computers that are heavily used. Thanks from everyone!
More equipment was bought from a group of Belgian students and teachers who bought projector, lap tops and sound equipment. They ran a three day workshop with the media club which was so popular and once again massive thanks.
As always we encourage volunteers to come out and visit and we are now offering package deals to our volunteers who stay for a month or more which includes bed, breakfast and dinner for $450. I would like to take this opportunity to make a personal plea to qualified teachers. Ezmeekie and her class of 6 year olds are looking for a teacher, please share this with all interested and get them in touch
Harry, a friend from my little town of Thornbury got in touch while I was in England as he had won a film competition and already had a passion for Africa after visiting Zambia last year. He then recruited 7 more friends and came out to Malawi with them. They were quickly nick named the ‘shakers and movers’ as they were so involved and had impact on so many people’s lives. They all stayed for different lengths of time and did such a variety of volunteer work. They bought a vibe to butterfly that was unique to their Christian fellowship. They didn’t just stop at our projects but set up new ones and helped people that were exposed in need. Their hearts were firmly embedded in ‘real’ Africa so they loved helping up in Dindano village, not just with the nursery. Without doing injustice I will now have to list a few of their endeavors otherwise a whole newsletter will be dedicated to them. They built a huge compost centre for the whole village to use and planted some fruit trees for a mini future orchard, all with their own funds. Helped at the hospital and no one fainted at the sight of blood who is doing a degree in medicine…honest. They basically ran and took over youth club for the two months as well as helping with HIV group. Met people on the street in need, one in particular who was fitting and was helped with re homing and finding her family…big story, check out their blogs. The disabled club also saw great action and one boy got a place in the Bandawe deaf school from their attempts at bettering his life. I know they have left a space in many people’s lives with the friendships they made and no doubt that their work will continue through those lasting friends.
“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”