Community hubs for disabled people which provide access to education and inclusive support services
Our mission "To empower and provide disabled people with skills and opportunities to achieve their full potential as individuals, promote social inclusion and improve quality of life."
We support two disability centers, which are located outside of Nkhata Bay in rural villages, which offer educational support and promote self-advocacy, enabling access to quality education, skilling sharing, and income generation. Vocational skills are taught to those that likely have not had the opportunity to attend school, creating a means of living and a sense of greater purpose and belonging in their community. Both centers support people with all types of physical and mental disabilities.
Each has a committee which we work side by side with, to facilitate our workshops.
Both centers provide a hub for regular meetings, access to information, microfinance support groups, and a place where medical professionals can see multiple patients at one time, to offer advice and support to members and their families.
We also encourage and engage with the wider community, to raise awareness of the rights and needs of persons with disabilities and encourage social inclusion.
Mpamba Disability Centre
Built-in 2008, Mphamba has been a self-sustaining hub for disabled people and their families around Nkhata Bay for many years, with close to 50 members. The space has been inspired by ‘Neema Crafts Centre’ in Tanzania. Mpamba teaches skills including tailoring, catering, and carpentry and they also run a successful nursery school during the week for children, some of whom are disabled. There is also a catering group that offers a restaurant service with prior notice, and the tailors make uniforms for kids and bags for tourists which can be found on sale at Butterfly Space Lodge.
Mpamba has proven the success of the skills teaching model for income generation and is a core place for people with disabilities and their families to engage with and support each other. It has also inspired the wider disabled community, and we have seen several centers and groups form that have been supported by Mpamba Disability Centre.
Pundu Disability Centre
Inspired by the support centre at Mpamba, disabled people around Pundu village started their own group in 2019, and met under a tree, offering support and advice to each other. The extreme weather conditions in Malawi pushed the 43 members to work together with friends and family to mold bricks, to build their own local center, after they were granted land by the village chief. They received donations through various fundraisers through Butterfly, and from several well-wishers and past volunteers to cover building costs including the floor, roof, drainage and plastering. We were also supported by Gabriel hardware in Mzuzu who kindly donated several bags of cement.
Now it is fully set up, we run workshops in tailoring, carpentry, building & decorating, business management, permaculture gardening, and show monthly educational movies. The centre also runs a small nursery school. The teachers have visited Stepping Stones Nursery School for inspiration and training.
The centre is still basic, but we are building its resources month by month, and we are excited to be introducing solar, a laptop, and information hand outs on health and nutrition.
Why Volunteer here?
In Malawi, persons with disabilities often are excluded from education and employment, mainly due to a lack of mobility equipment and stigma.
The 2018 Population Census indicated that 11.6% of the population are persons with disabilities in Malawi. In education, most schools are not disability-friendly, lacking assistive devices and specialist teachers & assistants to provide the necessary support. According to UNICEF (sourced from iied.org), examinations are unfair & discriminatory. These problems result in low education levels for people with disabilities, leading to lower employment rates, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
Both centers promise hopeful futures of expansion with the replicable and sustainable model used. There is always a need for volunteers and funding to get more resources, cover transport costs and maintain equipment. Our goal is for Mpamba to continue being a model center and a source of inspiration, training, and knowledge and to have the means to support other local groups who wish to start their centers.
How you can get involved...
This project can benefit from a diverse range of skill sets. Volunteers with vocational skills can share them at either disability centre. Healthcare professionals can give advice to the group both at the centre or in the community depending on the profession. Often, people living with disabilities can’t get to hospitals and clinics due to transport costs and lack of mobility aid equipment. Workshops can be given to the community about health, nutrition, business, permaculture and other relevant topics. IT lessons can be given to group members who are interested to lean how to use technology, using the centres laptop or raspberry Pi. Sign language can be taught to deaf members families, to improve communication within families.
Useful skills/qualifications that could develop the members’ skills include:
- Fashion and textile designers, weavers, papermakers, tailors, gardeners, builders, carpenters, chefs, caterers, teachers, etc.
- New ideas or practices for skills training that have business income-generating possibilities.
- Occupational therapists and physiotherapists to offer members, and the rural surrounding community, consultations, referral exercises and medical advice.
- Fundraisers and grant/ proposal writers can help provide equipment for vocation practice, materials for skills workshops and capital for building renovation.
Both people with vocational skills, and health care professionals are highly valued, with the possibility to support the wider community. It will be essential to schedule an initial visit to orientate and liaise with Patrick Kondowe who is a local volunteer and government schoolteacher with a prosthetic leg that oversees the center’s. There is a need for home visits, lobbying for government assistance, and access to essential transportation to facilities. Liaison with government providers is essential yet sometimes impossible for the group to access themselves.
Prosthetics and disability aid equipment is always needed here, so even if you cant donate your time, please consider assisting in other ways. Past volunteers have shipped aid equipment to Malawi in the past, and it is used regularly in Nkhata Bay District hospital to this day!
The centres’ offer varied and diverse opportunities and education to our community, and proudly targets 12 out of 16 UN Sustainable Development Goals;
1: No Poverty
2: Zero Hunger
3: Good Health & Wellbeing
4: Quality Education
5: Gender Equality
7: Affordable and Clean Energy
8: Decent Work & Economic Growth
9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
10: Reduced Inequalities
11: Sustainable Communities
15: Life on Land
16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institution
Please support our projects. Our 100% Donation Policy means all of your donation goes directly to the project, without administration fees. Without the generosity and support we have received over the years, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do!
Thank you, from all of the Butterfly team!
If you are interested in volunteering at our disability Centers, please get in touch!
Volunteering is free, but volunteers are expected to cover their own living expenses, including accommodation at Butterfly Space non-profit lodge, food and transport. Volunteers are encouraged to raise funds to contribute to the project they are involved with, to enhance them. (not to cover personal expenses).