This time the newsletter is a little later than usual and that is because it is written live from Malawi by our loyal friend Ruth and very new Kudimba Trustee (!), she has swapped places with Judy, who left Malawi a few weeks ago.
“My first impressions of Malawi is that it is beautiful and warm, in more ways than one; the people’s hearts as well as the climate. I get off the plane and am greeted by Max, the Kudimba project manager. As we drive to Senga Bay, Malawi seems so bountiful and green, a result of the recent, but late, rainy season. Along the road there are many people transporting anything from goats to timber on their bicycles and women carrying heavy loads of their heads; I admire their strength. I see that most houses are made from mud bricks and local reeds for roofs, it makes one wonder how people stay dry when the rains are heavy. Yet despite the obvious poverty, people here generally appear contented and can always afford a smile!
I soon go to visit Kudimba in Lifuwu and am amazed at how quickly the work is being done. The new wooden chalet is being occupied by the first volunteers who are settling in and getting involved in the building work. The on-site co-ordinator, Cornelio, is doing a fantastic job of ensuring that everything is running well. He has planted trees which will be the pioneers of our garden (Kudimba). We have papaya, tamarind, passion fruit, sugar cane, rice and many other fruits and vegetables growing. This is part of our permaculture vision, by which this sustainable method of agriculture will feed, employ and educate to the benefit of all involved. Cornelio has also seen to the smooth progress of the new administration building, when I arrived it was mainly a shell of brick and cement and now, as we speak, there is a working shower (toilet yet to be tested!), a roof being constructed and a water tank. The next step will be to install electricity and the plastering work.
The highlight of my visit has been meeting and getting to know so many of the lovely Malawians. As I’ve mentioned before, everyone seems to be friendly and inclusive. I have had the privilege of meeting the two newest member of Kudimba. Ulita’s baby boy “Lajidu” was born two weeks ago, then Cornelio’s baby girl “Stella” was born 10 days ago. Both mothers and babies are doing well and are thankful for the support from Kudimba.
I also managed to meet Kudimba’s budding student Austin, who is studying public health at a university in the capital. He is very happy and thankful for the opportunity to study at this level; a rarity in Malawi, which will provide far more opportunity for him in the future.
I cannot continue this newsletter any further without mentioning the children at Kunyumba, who have been a joy to meet and spend time with. They are a great remedy to stress or difficulty and are an inspiration that despite their disabilities, the here and now can always be celebrated. They all look very healthy and are thriving well.
Amongst all the positive steps forward with Kudimba, there are always the challenges that arise almost simultaneously. One of these is the issue of a lot of water on our land at Lifuwu, which has been amplified by the heavy rain this year. The land is already low-lying as it is close to the lake and therefore it is at risk of flooding. We are currently trying to think of solutions to this and have planted tree’s/ crops that will help drain the land. However, there is a threat to our buildings and construction plans by which we need investment in order to ensure the work is of good quality and that they are done in the best possible way (i.e. a roof has to be constructed before electricity can be installed). On a positive note, all our buildings have proved to be water tight and stable during some very heavy storms!
Another hurdle to overcome is the issue of a national electricity pole on the Kudimba land, which is in the way of our most important building; the education centre. It would seem straight forward to move this, yet the government want to charge a large sum for this, which would detract from the original intention of the budget and causes a delay in our planning.
One of the biggest challenges that Kudimba faces is the high demand to support and finance young Malawians who would like to gain further qualifications and education. It would be very satisfying to enable these young people, especially those who are more vulnerable, as many are missing out due to the lack of finances. We are in need of regular, small donations which would make a huge difference and help change the lives of these young people forever. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you are interested in supporting a student via our education fund by setting up a regular donation.
Altogether, I have loved my time in Malawi and I have enjoyed seeing Kudimba with my own eyes, after hearing so much about it; what a great work! I look forward to joining with Kudimba’s future.”
Thank you for writing down your thoughts and impressions via this newsletter Ruth, we are so happy to have you on board of the Kudimba team.
More exciting news in our summer newsletter or on our facebook page.
The Kudimba team