Newsletter February 2015

February 2015
By Alice Leaper
Hi Everyone,

2015 seems to be the year for me! I have learnt so much from Malawi over the years and I finally feel like the lessons have paid off. Things are running smoothly and I am getting lots done alongside an amazing team and support from outside Malawi. I thought that taking on a teaching job in Mzuzu as well as running a lodge, and juggling all my projects would drive me insane. (I am of course writing in Easter holidays so my exhaustion has faded and my frustrations released with being next to our beautiful lake.) It has been a struggle to fit everything into a four day week but I feel like I am managing. We have got more help with the lodge from Henna and Floris, a Dutch couple that came in January and all the wonderful volunteers make sure it ticks on by steadily. Like my daughter’s name Thokozani, I want to give thanks because I have genuinely found happiness.

Jake was the first of those volunteers to arrive, on New Year’s Eve, none the less. I thought it would be a manic introduction to the place but he took it all in his stride and got stuck straight into the party. He was here for three months, originally to work at Kunyanja private school which I have supported in the past and hosted other volunteers from there as well as paying the fees for many of the students going there. He invited the students down to Butterfly after familiarising himself with our Media Room to start a committee for a school magazine. He lectured on photography content & meaning and spent a lot of time with them setting things up with basic journalism training.

Jake’s gentle and passionate style of teaching and great sense of fun made him many friends. We then joined forces with a school in England – White Trees Independent School that has been supporting some families and projects for a while now, and exchanged a project for International Women’s Day.The theme this year was ‘make it happen’ and that was echoed in Jake’s stay, he did make it happen. The students took some fabulous shots of the women in the community as well as their accomplishments which were inspirational. We had an exhibition here atButterfly on International Women’s Day with ‘bras and biscuits’, and the showcased work was well received.  Jake was a little disappointed with some postcards that he had printed and are for sale, as the publisher did not do the photos justice but generally the whole project was a massive success.

The White Trees School that we exchanged the project with also took all the soap that we made.  This is a new project that I set up with a group of women down in a village in Cacoombe.  We had interesting experiments as the first time we forgot that you are not supposed to use metal equipment and we had a mini explosion. It was really great experimenting with different essential oils that Fiona (me old Irish mate) gave flowers and petals for different colors and smells. There is a lot of time stirring and waiting in anticipation which is great to hang out with the women and have fun. The school in England took the whole batch we made so that is an excellent first sale. We had another volunteer design some nice labels for ‘soap sisters’ -Sharlan, and the sewing group from Dindano made some little draw string bags for them to go in.

The sewing group have undergone some training from a local tailor-Patel. They are a group of ten women from Dindano who have learnt how to make sanitary towels.They were given a machine donated from England and materials from my mum to set them up. They will be able to give out as many as possible but I also said I would buy some for a small price so that we can give them out too. In Malawi it is hard to buy such things and these will be re-useable and great for the environment.

The nursery school up in Dindano where these ladies come from have had a big development.  Project Trust, a UK program, sent us three young girls as they were not enjoying their placement down in Blantyre. Gina, Demy and Sophie have made a great start and very rarely come down for escape at the lodge as they are happy in their rural setting. Gina’s mum has shown massive support sending packages and buying them a bed, as they were all squeezing in a double bed in their tiny room. She is coming to visit and volunteer with us next month too.

The girls have set up other programs alongside the nursery and are making use of all the resources we have got up there. A partnership with Project Trust may ensure we always have volunteers up there and that the children always have a healthy bowl of porridge every day. I really admire their commitment and dedication and how they have just adapted to life up there with such ease. It is a volunteer position that we often struggle to fill as it is a ‘long way from home’ with very few luxuries and creature comforts but they have embraced the Malawian way of life and are developing great awareness as they do it.

The disabled youth group has also had a few new members but has been low on numbers this month because my trusty old truck has needed some maintenance to keep him going. It was great to have Saskia’s help with the group and both she and Eliza went out on some home visits to encourage members to keep coming as well as the benefits of the group. They still only meet once a week although more and more members are being sourced jobs to give them an extra day away from home as well as a small income. The classroom I have been fundraising for them has finally begun and government has confirmed that the education department will supply a specialist teacher. This building’s completion will be thanks to many people and Kumbu has got involved with project management which has already saved lots of money as he cuts costs with his local knowledge and power in the community. I am aiming for it to be open by September for the new school term.

The other disabled centre in Mpamba has also had a successful year. I have been writing to tour companies so that overland trucks will stop at the restaurant and give the group training to do a village tour. It has already had some visitors that had really positive feedback, enjoying the food, , dancing, mushroom farm, local tinsmith, school, and tailoring training, all run by the disabled people. They have had a big tailoring order sent to England from some previous volunteers who painted the centre and will sell the bags and trousers for them (thanks Jamie, Rob and Max from Hampton school.).  I endeavor to do lots more advertising so that the income can generate more training and success there. The chef school continues to make a bit of revenue for them as there are people constantly signing up. Next step is electricity and getting computers there so the plan can be completed for internet café. If anyone has any contact for laptop giveaways we are always in need of them out here. Please see the link below in how you can help us, ‘Help Butterfly Space Here’.
Big Changes And Progress

In The Coming Year…..

One of the big funders of the disabled classroom build were……foundation from Floris and Henna. They are now here managing our lodge for a year and what hardworking organised people they are. It has been hard to let go of the things we have been so involved in for so long but it is about time so we can both concentrate on the running of all our projects. We are learning a lot from their management skills and changing a few things to make the running of the lodge smoother as well as employing more people and training them with new skills.They are also paying for a young man to be trained in carpentry alongside our trusted Rodrick which is something we would love to see grow in the future. We have Malawian volunteers back in the kitchen and now in the office on their placements from college.

Gulugufe and Little Leaper’s Primary School continues alongside some fantastic volunteers. Sarah and Sharlan were very popular amongst teachers and children. Gary and Sammy gave us a surprise return visit which was lovely. Frieda also paid us another visit and helped out in the youth club. Patti a freckly, 50 year old Canadian has bought so much life and enthusiasm to the whole community.  She has focused her energy with the youth but pours out so much oomph in all that she gets involved in; fashion, hip hop, music videos, baby showers, and so much more.(Catch my latest music video she helped me film with Alifeyo/Tour Guide below). Her very essence is an inspiration to all that work with her. Erin an English volunteer has really got involved with Patti’s teaching styles and prepared environments and is also being a great help up at the school.  Erin has also taken on the prison bible study and is loving it whilst offering them great insight to her faith and understanding. They should be able to repair their baptism pool as we donated them a bag of cement.

Click on the image to watch my recent filming skills and the awesome new single by
Alifeyo Banda / Tour Guider ‘I don’t want to fight’.
Please share on your social networking pages to support them!

Sam Morris also came back from my home town after he visited last year with Marlwood School and painted at Chindozwa School. He came back with the fire of Africa in his heart and has encouraged my dream to build a primary school. This is massive news and I will need all the help in the world but I’m so grateful to have him on my team as I embark on this adventure. If anyone is interested to receive my proposal then I can send it to you as it has already become a reality as we have bought a lovely plot of land near the new government hospital and are reaching out for any support, teachers, curriculum and all else that goes alongside building a full school. Please contact us below if you keen to help!

And lastly… 

I will be returning to the UK this September with all this in mind so everybody there should look forward to some interesting events to raise money. I haven’t been back for three years so I would like to catch up with as many people as I can in the Bristol area or further afield. But before all that there is already a hectic summer of volunteers and school groups here at Butterfly to concentrate on and a women’s week going on right now that host over 60 women each day so far. As ever we invite skilled and passionate people to come and get involved in the 13 projects we offer.

If volunteering or donating a small amount is out of your reach right now, we’d really love you to spread the word of Butterfly Space through your social networking sites. Just a mention on Facebook could inspire your friends and their friends to come part of the Butterfly Space family and as always we welcome all support.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support and reading through all this news. We will be with you again very soon and also up to date with our newsletters!

Until then,

Thank you

“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”