Newsletter August 2015

August 2015
By Alice Leaper
Hi Everyone,

I am writing this newsletter from England and after not being here for three years I have settled in just fine despite the rainy day I am writing from. I have loved the autumnal days that have past and seeing lots of people from England as well as the strong Malawi links.

My girls are enjoying school and have also found it surprisingly natural to slot into English life enjoying all the facilities around them, with of course the occasional tear for the friends they miss back home. Malawi is definitely home.

We’ve had a great few months and in this newsletter you’ll be hearing about the following;

  • School Visits including 2 awesome video’s so you can immerse yourself in their experience.
  • Our recent volunteer’s success
  • Butterfly Space changes and renovations

School Groups Visit 

We had another busy summer in Malawi with the school groups coming. I love this time of year when Butterfly becomes a hive of activity and lots of young people are being changed and affected by the different ways of living, eating, schooling and behaving.

First School Group – CRED

The first team that came out was from an organisation called CRED. The connection has taken some careful planning with me and Helen Harrison, a fellow Thornbury lady. She bought a team of students from Nottingham along with leaders and a few from Thornbury.

                                                         Helen Harrison, CRED’s Team Coordinator
They were a courageous team and with powerful leaders they scaled the mountain everyday without fail to go to Bwelero School. They had already planned and prepared their lesson plans so used the short week that they had to the best they could. The amount of resources that went up the hill with them was tremendous.

The school has been blessed by the experience as well as the wonderful gifts of learning resources, laptop, sports equipment and so much more.
CRED’s organisation was inspirational to watch as each evening they got together and had team time, sharing their experiences, challenges and emotions. I loved being a part of it and watching the young people transforming and realising how lucky we are in England

How you can help CRED and Butterfly Space

I have been to visit them in Nottingham, UK and hope to see some of them in their future travels. One of the leaders was Erin’s mum – Ruth Rice who hosted me and has a wonderful cafe just set up called 37. If you’re in Notts pop in and buy a chitenge bag from our Mpamba disabled centre or have a pray with her with a cuppa. I know that this is a long lasting friendship with CRED as we are already planning the next group in February for a different school and another one in the summer. Thank you Helen!

To really get a feel of CRED’s experience here in Malawi, check out their video below and to visit CRED’s facebook page to keep uptodate with their progress, click here.

Watch CRED’s experience in Malawi here!
(click on the image to watch)

Second School Group – Caroline Chisholm

The next school group were completely different but equally successful. They wereCaroline Chisholm School in Coventry, UK. This link was set up a long time ago with Stewart who visited butterfly in 2012. He has stayed in touch and we had his brother come out too.

Two years in the making finally had a team of 29 come out to stay. This group took a lot more organisation from team Butterfly as each night we had different entertainment for them which was great fun. They also went to Bwelero School but took on the epic job of painting two classrooms. They had hired transport so were lucky to drive up each day and get more hours in. They not only cleaned and white washed but put some bright educational pictures on the walls too.

Below show the before and after of the school classroom refurbishment.

On their last day they organised this amazing sports day for the end of term. There were hundreds of children that enjoyed the day and took away many prizes as well as amazing sports equipment for the school. They also left enough paint for the head teacher to finish the job on all the other classes.

The school groups also bought huge success to the Disabled Vocational Training Centre in Mpamba. They both took big groups to the restaurant and sampled the new village tour. It is a great chance for tourists to see how people live in Malawi and real eye opener to see how disabled people cope, manage and work so hard. The tour consists of the local church, school, playing with local kids, pumping water, pounding nsima, their mushroom farm, their blacksmith, their tailoring room and workshop and finishes with a local meal. This team of disabled people have shown great commitment and are now successfully running a business that just needs more customers to succeed more.

If there are any sales or marketing volunteers out there, they could do with some help! When there are a group of volunteers we all go down and enjoy the experience, sometimes on bike rides with monkey business.
And The Last Group – World Race 

One of the other groups visiting was of course World Race. They were as helpful and insightful as ever. They came in their usual numbers and spread out and shared the gospel as well as doing some physical work of throwing, catching and loading bricks onto my truck for the disabled youth class.They worked at Gulugufe Nursery and youth club as well as taking over the prison bible study. Derek made a lovely short video of his stay at butterfly and is like a promotional video for volunteers. It really shows the variety of experience, fun and work to be done out here.

A video of Derek Shatto from World Race and his experience at Butterfly Space.
(click on the image to watch)
Recent Volunteers  

Brittany from Canada arrived at a similar time as the School Visits were in full swing. She also threw bricks at me and was so much fun to have around the lodge. She worked fulltime and full heartedly with the little leaper’s school as Patti’s assistant. The children loved her laughter and kindness. Patti sadly went back to Canada after being here for 5 months. She continued to support Little Leaper’s right to the end of her stay but became involved in lots of other things. She put on a huge event in town where hundreds of people were present. It was a great success and lots of fun for the whole community. She plans to come back and really support the youth and women of Nkhata bay. Its main focus was on empowering people to dream with lots of activities to demonstrate this.

Ying Yang from New Zealand came to volunteer with us for a month also and worked on an irrigation system and environmental projects around the lodge including the bicycle pump. She also went to Gulugufe and helped me out with some fundraising initiatives and power point presentation that has been a massive support to me back in England. Thanks!

Ying Yang also encouraged me to write about the Youth Club. Volunteers have struggled to know my vision and know what it’s all about. I have now written an interactive volunteer folder for it, that they can read when they arrive, to know what to do and what not to, and add to which will help other volunteers introduction run more smoothly. The Youth Club has had a good year sharing the space with the little leapers and nothing has gone missing so it’s wonderful to see the resources grow and be used to their potential.

Gina, Demi and Sophie the project trust volunteers who were up in Dindano wanted more work so they came down in the afternoons to run Youth Club. I was amazed they didn’t want to flop after teaching at the nursery school with over 50 kids each morning but they really love children and showed their commitment by walking an hour to butterfly and back to be involved even more. It has been confirmed that we will continue to have project trust volunteers up in Dindano. I can only pray that they are as good as those three. They worked so hard and were so dedicated to their cause, living out of their comfort zones. I have learnt that future volunteers will need more support and more facilities as not everyone will be as accommodating as them but let’s hope they are as hardworking.

The school that CRED is going to work at in February, – St Maria Goretti, is where I have built the disabled class room. This building is now finished but the builder went a bit AWOL in my last few weeks in Malawi so I didn’t get chance to start furnishing the place. A lovely volunteer Jess came at this time with so many wonderful toys that are to go in this centre. My dream of it being this sensory overload, creative fun place is really coming together with all the things that are being brought out. Jess bought a tent with lots of different textured balls and twinkly lights. I found her with one of the members in the tent and it bought me to tears with the vision coming to life. The smile on little Rachel’s face was a delight.

Jess worked with the disabled youth and was so active going off on home visits with translator Thomas. She managed to get old members with severe disabilities to come back and invited 5 new members to the club.

I have always encouraged the students of this school to have bits of work around the lodge on other days of the week. (Many of you reading this will think of wonderful Wame and his incredible work and support.) Jess invited two of the new lads, Bless and Davey to come and water the gardens. It really gives them a sense of purpose as well as a bit of cash to take home so value to their family. Amos continues to make dream catchers which have also sold really well, thanks to Brittany. These members are clearly thrilled with their jobs and we just need to think of some more. Jess also visited some of our deaf members and spoke with parents, resulting in two members going back to deaf school, one of them sponsored by her.

Jess also worked alongside our massage team and introduced a fourth member be a manager for them as they rely too much on me to get their customers due to their lack of English. Beatrice has finished her studies and back working in the kitchen so she has learnt the skill and helps them by spreading the word with new posters and tempting sales techniques.

Another fantastic volunteer that joined us was Genna Davies. She had been mailing for months to set up her exchange of skills. She was on her medical elective and out District Health Officer welcomed her to his tuition. They became a compatible duo and were equally valuable to each other as well as the hospital and the community. The hospital is very understaffed and under qualified so she was an asset to the team in her fourth year, being able to do all kinds of procedures and save many lives. She was a credit to her profession as she never was off duty and saw to problems in and around the lodge as well. Her smiley disposition and dedication has really opened up a chance for us to accept and actively search for more student doctors for the hospital. I was so eager for her to return each day to hear all about her day and what problems she has faced in this challenging and rewarding environment. I have already linked her to another potential student who might shadow her excellent approach next year.

Genna’s boyfriend joined her after 2 weeks with skills of his own that are equally valuable to us here at Butterfly. He was Mr Mark who worked in the primary school for a month and became very popular with super hero summer fun madness. He managed the two year groups well and introduced new themes and developed more phonics and existing curriculum. His gentle giant approach was very popular with the kids and they loved having him there. The parents also saw the development of their children when they were invited to an open day celebration and results. The positive feedback and commitment to the children in this class stands in good stead for the future developments of the full primary school next year.

Changes To Butterfly Space 

Butterfly may seem unrecognisable if you haven’t visited in a while. We have undergone many positive changes. The new bar had its official opening as Josie returned in August and has opened the doors to many new customers.

It is well worth a visit to see our new and existing staff and all the training they have received this year from Floris and Henna. Innocent our newest front of house face has made an excellent start and he has already become part of the furniture with his quirky and welcoming ways.

I am missing them all terribly as I write this from a wintry England and can’t wait to get back to 2016 with all the further developments and changes that we are all ready to take on.

Thank you to all involved both in Malawi and further field as we can’t do it without you.

Bring it on 2016

Thinking Of Volunteering?

I would like to take this opportunity to invite any newly qualified or want to be teachers to get in touch as we will be recruiting in early 2016 and very much in need of volunteer teachers and teacher trainers for the grand opening in 2016.

All that remains is to extend that welcome to anyone thinking of visiting or volunteering as there are so many projects that we can link so many skills to. Just click on the  ‘Volunteer Here’ link below to get in touch.

If you can’t come to Malawi but you would like to show your support, please click on the link ‘Help Butterfly Space’ below to donate.

Thank you for your continued support!


“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”