December newsletter 2013

December newsletter by Josie Redmonds

Even though i’d been away from Butterfly for over three months it had never been far from my thoughts. While in Huddersfield we held a brilliant fundraiser in collaboration with the Caribbean Centre in Huddersfield and also furthered the links with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Sheffield, When i returned to Malawi at the stat of August i met up with the first group of volunteers from EWB Sheffield in Lilongwe and we travelled up to Butterfly together. Arriving back in the middle of August is always full on, as there are so many people around, getting involved in so many things, it takes a while to get up to speed. As the EWB team only had 5 weeks though we got on straight away with developing the water pump.

The guys had had help from Alex Buckman, amongst others, and had developed a simple design, which apart from the broken centrifugal pump, could be built in Nkhata Bay using locally available materials. This is essential if we want to make it replicable. It came together really well and before the team left we had a functionning water pump. We went out to demonstrate it amongst the farmers and at Chikale Primary school.

Initially we had hoped that the pump would be able to pump long distances and up hill, yet we found this to be too difficult physically and the pump was most efficient when boosting water up and along relatively flat ground. So potentially it is for people close to water sources who don’t utilise the water during the 6 month dry season. The lads are working on a manual to have in the information centre here so we people can learn also how to make them. and the only other thing we need to do is source a supply of broken centrifugal pumps.

Future volunteers can help build these pumps out in the wider community. This is the start of a 5 year link with EWB Sheffield, which is brilliant news, and Harry and Adrian have already been working on improvements to the design. Sian who was also part of the team was looking ore to the future and interviewed people around Nkhata Bay, to see how future EWB volunteers could assist most.

Any links like this to skilled groups within universities and places of higher education are really valuable as it provides an opportunity for long term skills exchange. Whether it be teacher training colleges, medical schools, media centres, universities, apprenticeship colleges, they are useful links for us to make so if you work in or live near any places like that and want to link them up with Butterfly then please get in touch and we can send you some more information.

The new District Health Officer seems much more pro-active and we are hoping this will make it much easier in the future to get medical volunteers into the hospital here. September as well saw the return of Malawi ‘s music festival after a break last year. That meant we had the pleasure of Geoff Skelhorn back with loads of goodies for the media room and he spent an intense week or two getting Elijah up to speed with the software. Since then Elijah has been in the recording studio most days and brings new kids through to record and teach.

Its brilliant to hear them developing their skills and artists from Nkhata bay are now uploading their music to Malawian and International sites and gaining more attention. One thing that really needs to happen with the media room is to upgrade the internet connection and service, which is an expensive and on going commitment. Apart from that, the media room is crying out for more volunteers to teach on everything from IT, to film, radio, photography, so help us spread the word to help us realise its full potential.

Other volunteers included Zuri, who had been over here in Malawi as part of an ‘earthship’ build. She came and helped out for a few weeks around the garden and with the youth club, amongst other things. Richard as well, a long term volunteer, who has a passion for geography and football so as well as showing videos in the media centre and training the Chikale boys team he has tried his hand at many things. Megan was another volunteer interested in football and while she had been interested to renew the Girls team here in Nkhata Bay she ended up helping Richard with his training sessions twice a week.

Both Ricard and Megan helped out at Little leapers primary school with Alice, and the arrival of Jack and Jess, trained teachers from the UK, happily coincided with Alice’s trip to South Africa so the kids had a productive couple of weeks while Alice re-charged her batteries. Richard and Megan helped in any areas they were requested from the special needs group to the Fawns, nursery to the garden. They even revived the pub quiz on a Thursday night down at Butterfly bar which can be a popular evening. While Megan recently moved on, Richard is still with us and may be until June or later, by which time he will be part of the furniture.

We also were sent Annie and Steve…… on a cloud from heaven…….. who were brilliant fun to have around and who helped Alice tremendously with Little Leapers- who can forget circus day with Steve as the ring master. More than that though, they committed to sorting out our web-site; re vamping the whole design and content and linking us up with other useful tools that will help as we try and spread the word to maximise the potential of Butterfly. After the nightmare we have had in the last year with the web-site this could not have been more welcome and we are already seeing an increase in traffic and volunteers as a result. massive thanks guys.

Just before Christmas Rescope ( Regional Schools for Permaculture ), quickly rescheduled our week-long workshop up at Chikale School and we managed to find time to fit that in. It is important that the school is out of term as several teachers and pupils take part and with some people from the Education Department and the Agriculture Department there as well for the four day workshop, it is a brilliant chance to get the message across. Ophanuel from Butterfly and Terence from Chikale also took a lot of the training sessions, this boosting their confidence and skills. As our first lot of training through Re-scope is coming to an end it will be interesting to see how the relationship will develop in the future.

This saw us coming up to xmas which is always busy at the lodge and this year was not different. We encouraged people as always to get involved and cook their own favourite dish, and with the more traditional roast potatoes, lamb and homemade mint sauce, we definitely enjoyed.

“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”