Newsletter December 2016

A Volunteer Community Project in Malawi

Quarterly Newsletter
December 2016
By Alice Leaper
I can only start with apologise to all the people who support, fundraise, pray and care for all the work we do out here in Malawi.  Having a busy year is not an excuse to not let you know our progress and news. So much has been achieved by so many and I can only hope that I do justice to ALL that have contributed to Butterfly’s success.

Butterfly goes from strength to strength as we are powered by a wonderful team at the lodge who seem to be more permanent than ever. This allows us more freedom to concentrate on our projects which are where our passion lies.

Staff news saw Ophanuel our manager move on to brighter pastures in South Africa, Friday our much-loved chef got married and Francis the gardener, Annie, Benson, Yohanne had babies, Custom our gardener was very sick but has made a full recovery.  New members Ramsey and Kondwani are welcomed to the team.

I write this letter looking at the lake in our piece of paradise with the garden so lush from the recent rainfall of the season and feel blessed. I did get very sick at the end of the year which saw me hospitalised for two weeks. I am fully recovered and refreshed and ready for 2017. A summary update of our existing projects follows.

We had some help on the lodge side of things with visitors from Ireland-Rosie and Dan; They were involved in so many developments including customer services, electrics, permaculture and the nursery school.  Gulugufe nursery school now has a lovely space at the side of it which children can access it as a play space as well as an interactive garden.  They led a team of volunteers there to do lots of physical work. We can really see the ¨fruits¨ to their labour.  They also worked with the teachers and cooking ladies to dry the Moringa from the garden and add it to the porridge there.  I can’t thank them enough for their bubbly enthusiasm and I now regret not spending more time with them.

Rosie made a great friend with a lady from Germany –Mila, who shared her smiley disposition and positivity. She became a walking school bus as she picked people en-route to Gulugufe each day.  She had so much laughter and smiles for the children as she carried, dragged and chased them along.  Gulugufe stands as strong as ever with over 60 children attending each day and getting a fabulous education from our trusted teacher Jane and others who have helped her.  Jessica from Germany returned for a second visit and the nursery benefitted from her discipline and structure she bought to the school.  She also adapted to African life piggy backing kids to school and making sure they all got porridge every day.

Dindano nursery which is the school I built second which is more rural has also had Project Trust volunteers Emily and Ciara commit to a yearlong service of dedication up in the village.  It is a very different way of living to the comforts of England so it is great to have made the partnership with the organisation. It has been such a reward to see them become part of the community away from lodge comforts such as water and electricity as they do the hike up the mountain.

Jules was here when I returned from England last year for the slightly older children who were attending Little Leapers school.  She has so much energy and pazas in her teaching that the children adored her and had such an active learning time with her.  She was here for a long time and helped me with school trips to the rubber plantation and Mzuzu waterfall which are so enriching for the children. She has stayed in touch as we connected as friends as well and has been so kind as to send uniforms out for the new school.

Becky also joined me in the class and out as she heard readers each day joined by her sister. This was so valuable and made such a difference. I watched the penny drop as some children began to read fluently under her instruction.  These slightly older children have had plenty of attention from volunteers as Verity came and led the younger class. She had so much drive and control of the class that the children learnt a lot over the month.  She also assisted her boyfriend Kier who shared her motivated charisma.  He is an ex-marine and introduced a butterfly boot camp as well as rejuvenating our young football team.  This also set up a business for some young men that use our gym to punish out volunteers with circuits and fitness that was very popular if not challenging.  The gym at Butterfly has never been busier and we were all a lot fitter with him around.

Little Leapers also did a rendition of the Lion King which was such a hit that we were invited to perform at Lake of Stars 2016.   It was such a lovely day out with a slip and slide bouncy castle for some who have never left this town before.  Some of the audience proclaimed that it was the highlight of their festival.

Our welcoming team at Mkondezi Open Day
She also got massively involved in the permaculture project which went from strength to strength.  They  held a really successful open day at Mkondezi primary school, where the pupils and teachers show cased what they had done over the year.  Demonstrations on water, diversity, nutrition and other things entertained the many visitors from other schools and Governments Departments and at the end four other primary schools had signed up to begin Butterfly’s pilot project from the next school year.  This would include some training for the teachers and 24 detailed lesson plans to work on throughout the year incorporating permaculture principles, practical’s and theory.  Mkondezi also had a visit from members of ReScope from Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia who had heard about their great work.
Another group of returners, this time from Hampton School came during the summer months, with thanks to their teacher Polly.  They helped a lot with the new school build, loading bricks, carrying stones, shovelling sand and lots of other heavy laborious work, done with light hearts and smiles. (Even after rude early awakenings) They also helped out in the little class along with Amelia who introduced Joseph and his Technicolor Dream coat, which is still sung every day on the bus to school.

Lorraine and her daughters, Grace and Rowan who visited before on a CRED trip, returned for the opening of the new School, Stepping Stones. The infants of the school had so much active and fun learning under their instruction.  They also got to work painting with Becky from CRED who brought along her boyfriend for her return visit.  He drove the school bus as well as joining in with all the lessons.

Meg Kyle and Sam came from Dubai where they teach.  They also helped massively with the build.  Kyle got very excited about firing bricks with a beer after all the carrying.  Sam helped me with the first stage of interviews for the school where there were so many good candidates we invited many of them for a three-week training that Meg conducted.  We were able to see the teachers in action and shortlist some of the more able candidates.  I also attended and learnt so much from her creative, fun and exciting primary teaching.   I was able to select two young and wonderful teachers to open Stepping Stones International school.  Welcome to the team Madam Lennie and Sir Edo.

The school now has over 70 students with four classes and a lovely garden.  I can’t go on without thanking sponsors, Doug Funk from the Solon foundation, the rotary clubs, my dear friend Laura for painting so beautifully and Emily who worked as a teacher, funder, administrator and advisor.  The school hall is now underway and at foundation level, with our first lady international assistant builder Sue.  I will not do all the hard work justice so have written a separate school newsletter if anyone is interested I can add you to mailing list.

Sue helping with the build

Sophie and Chris who gave spiritual nourishment became so much a part of what is the essence of Butterfly that they will be forever welcomed here as part of the family.  They helped with prison worship and were counsellors to so many of us, drivers, friends, medics, and teachers.  They have since gone home and had a baby named Soli, who looks adorable.  The World Race sent another team who also preached in the prison. One of the team Jamie on her return has sent 300 Chichewa bibles for me to give out.  They were involved in so many of our existing projects as such a big team they were able to split up and help everywhere.

They showed interest in the FAWN group Fighting Aids with Nutrition.  The latest group from the year programme has been a pleasure to be part of. They are so open and willing for education that everyone who has worked with them has named it as a highlight of their trip.  Genna who had been here before working in the district hospital on her elective, returned to visit old friends as well as set up a fantastically rewarding innovative new project-baby baskets.  I have been giving baby clothes to the hospital for years that are donated from the UK but she took it further by providing and filling baskets with all the things a new born and mother need. She paid a lady from Mzuzu-Kate to train a past FAWN group as their graduating business to make the baskets for the babies to sleep in.  It is such a delightful idea if anyone wants more information, get in touch as we always need more donations to make it possible.  She also had a visit from her friends Dave and Sarah who helped out building at school and the disabled block.

Baby baskets ready for delivery to the hospital

Mark and Holly were the first to lend a hand with the new FAWN group and offered a calm, mature and learnt approach as well as cooking for the group.  Corrie Funk stayed for a month and really put her heart and soul into the group touching on sensitive issues, nutrition as well as having lots of fun visiting the lovely village the group of 8 are from.  She was such a joy to have around and she did plenty of other things. She was visiting and hearing readers at Stepping Stones and donated a large sum of money to the school.  She was heavily involved in the disabled group, relaunching their trips to the new school as well as many home visits.

Paula from Australia was inspired by Corrie and continued her great work with the disabled.  She has experience in care work and after spending two weeks at the District hospital working alongside local nurses she found her talents more useful with our group.  She made great contact in Mzuzu with a Japanese physiotherapist who works for JICA.  He has already made several visits to Nkhata bay; in particular, Maona a founding member who was told he will never walk has started to make assisted first steps.  Incredible!  Paula also spent time at Stepping Stones contributing to life skills lessons and drawing up a first aid manual for many groups to follow.

Caryn from the States elaborated on this idea and took it to another level leaving a finished folder in the information room for future use.  She worked alongside the existing Chikale lifeguards, training and sorting out employment and equipment from lodges in the community. They have already saved several lives.  She has such an ethereal spirit doing yoga and meditation and contributed to all of our projects in some way.  She was particularly helpful with the permaculture expansion and was a great energy to have around at Xmas.  So as we go through 2017, can’t believe it’s already March,, we will try to get our newsletters our more regularly.   PROMISE
“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” 
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