Maaike has 19 years’ experience in therapeutic work with children and adults with a physical and/or learning disability. After completing a social education degree in her home country, Belgium, she completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Midwifery in Oxford. She studied ‘Tropical Nursing’ at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She proceeded with a course in ‘Life Saving Skills -Essential Obstetric Care and Newborn Care’ at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Maaike has worked as a midwife for VSO in Malawi. She intends to use her skills to assist vulnerable women in pregnancy and in childbirth to avoid preventable complications.
Maaike has lived and worked in Africa since 2005 and specifically in Malawi since 2007, where she set up the Kunyumba project a year later. This has resulted in a vast network of local skilled people and useful contacts in Malawi in a wide range of areas including legal advice, medical support, technical assistance, midwifery and permaculture. She speaks the basics of the local language “Chichewa”. By setting up the Kunyumba project she has acquired indispensable skills and a thorough base in project management in Malawi. Kunyumba is now a strong and sustainable organisation with a healthy financial base. At present the project is almost completely managed by a reliable team of local co-workers.
Frédéric worked as a freelance graphic designer for 21 years before deciding that there was more to life than sitting behind a desk. He carried out two long-term cycling trips across South America and Africa, before finally finding what he was looking for in Malawi: a chance to really make a difference.
His graphic design expertise has been a real asset to establishing Kudimba, improving the project’s communications capacity, particularly in the areas of photography, video and design. As with Maaike, his experience of living in Africa, Malawi and the Kunyumba project has enabled him to develop a strong understanding of the needs of vulnerable children in Senga Bay. Through his personal and social skills he has created a strong link with the staff and children of Kunyumba and his practical know-how on many levels have been a great attribute.
Both Maaike and Frédéric have trained in permaculture in Malawi and will continue developing their knowledge and experience through their connection with other projects in Europe and Africa, and share these with the local people. Between them, they speak seven languages: English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chichewa.