Newsletter Summer 2019

Dear Kudimba friends,

We are delighted to tell you that from the 20th of May we finally started our onsite activities.

The team has been working really hard the past few months and we were really excited to open our day care centre. The response of the community is rewarding. From day one there has been an overwhelming demand from families in Lifuwu and the feedback has been really positive. There clearly is a need for support for these young vulnerable people and there is no other organisation catering for these needs in the Lifuwu area. 
We have decided to start small, with 8 participants to enable the staff and the children to develop a routine, before we grow and expand our activities.

We are proud to introduce these eight lovely young people to you, between the ages of 2 and 23.

Shamila and Chisomo are girls of about 2 years old and both have a physical as well as a learning disability from birth. 

Massa is a gorgeous 7 year old boy with physical and learning difficulties.
Frankie is 7 and his big brother Cassim is 11 and both have epilepsy. As a consequence both have physical and learning difficulties.
Jester is 11 years old and he has difficulties walking. He had an infection at the age of 7 which caused his disability. Jester goes to school in Lifuwu in the morning and joins Kudimba for lunch and afternoon activities.

Johnny is 17. When he was 6 months old he had meningitis and as a result he cannot hear and cannot speak. He hasn’t let this hold him back. He is really optimistic, helpful and cheerful. He is very sporty and loves playing football, he really cares for the younger children and he likes joking with the girls.

Jaffary is 23 and has Down syndrome. He is the life and the soul of the party and feels completely at home in Kudimba already. We hope that these young people can thrive with our extra support.

A great example of this is Chifundo.
She was a young girl in our first project, she lost both her parents at a young age and has a physical disability from birth, but despite these challenges, this incredible young woman has managed to get through secondary education and acquire a diploma in community development. She is now a proud staff member at Kudimba, she is in charge of the daycare activities. She lives onsite at our beautiful place.

Chifundo is supported by Mercy, who is in charge of preparing meals for the children, and by Lawi, a young determined woman, who will study accounting (part time) next to her job at Kudimba. Lawi is also looking after the Kudimba visitors.

Chifundo and Chisomo

We now have Joseph on board, a young Malawian man who studied anthropology, philosophy and agriculture in Malawi and who was looking for an organisation where he could do an attachment. We really like the idea that someone joins Kudimba to look at our project from a different angle. He is motivated and has already started realising some ideas and initiatives.

Cornelio is still in charge of all the Kudimba facilities on site, and he is assisted by Mr. Gombachika, who is in charge of the garden. Both Cornelio and Mr. Gombachika keep an eye on the children whilst doing their job, and where possible try to involve them in their activities.

We have a waiting list of 7 more children at the moment, who we hope to provide day care for in the near future. We will welcome them as soon as we have established a routine and ensured that we have enough funding to employ another staff member, which we need if we want to accept more children. Undoubtedly we will receive many more requests soon after that.

In the meanwhile we also continue with our outreach help, by supporting vulnerable young people with education and/or medical care. We are very grateful for our friends who have committed to financially support a young person. Their future opportunities are much brighter through your assistance. 
If you would also like to support someone through our education fund, please do not hesitate to contact us. Even the smallest amount can transform a life in Malawi.

If you want to read more about the individual stories and portraits of our participants and co-workers, please have a look at our Facebook page.

We wish you a great and relaxing summer,

The Kudimba team

Newsletter Spring 2019

Dear Kudimba friends,

Finally, winter has passed and it’s spring in Europe, which also means the end of the rainy season in Malawi.

It has been a particularly long and very wet rainy season this year, with a dramatic end as you might have seen in the news. The cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the South of Malawi destroyed many people’s lives and livelihoods. Even at this moment, as the water from the flooding is slowly receding, people are still trying to come to terms with what happened and trying to assess the damage and the number of victims. More than 3 million people have been affected by this catastrophe and as usual, the poorest suffered the most.

We are very lucky that the Salima region was spared, so Kudimba didn’t suffer any damage or loss.
However, one of the benefits of all this rain is that it has generously watered our rice plantation; though we feared for a moment that our young rice plants were going to drown! Due to the hard work of Cornelio, Mr. Gombachika and
Mercy, who tirelessly dug drainage canals (which kept washing away after every rain episode), our crop was saved.

Works for the new roof for the education building also had to be halted until the heavy rains stopped and even then the truck with the building materials for the roof got stuck in the mud in the North of Malawi.
But now the rains have stopped … and everything is picking up. Finally, finally there is progress again on our roof development, and it’s looking good. We hope to finish the roof soon and open the education building officially (we’ve got our red ribbon ready).

In the meanwhile we have constructed a laundry area.
We’ve designed it so that it is environmental friendly. The waste water (grey water) from the laundry will be recycled for the garden, we are planning to plant lots of banana trees, which need a plentiful water supply, and we look forward to enjoying the harvest.

The laundry area

We have also built a little open air kitchen area for the Kudimba staff. In this kitchen we have installed a ‘mbaula’ stove, which is a typical cooking stove for Malawi. The interesting fact about the mbaula is that it is very sustainable as it uses much less firewood (or other sources of energy) than other cooking methods, a great advantage for an area which suffers from deforestation. So we can only celebrate the mbaula and adopt its use.

The open air kitchen area for the Kudimba staff

Our short term future plans are to finish the education building and to improve our existing bathroom. We want to build a second watertower and water tank, which will provide the education centre with the water which we pump up from our own borehole with our solar pump, and a second septic tank for the waste water (black water).

Malawi is quite close to the equator so night falls quite early, all year round. As we need some lighting for the project, we are going to trial gravity lights. If they work well, we will buy some more. The idea is in keeping with the sustainable vision of our project; gravity lights produce their own energy using gravity and are simple to use. 

Furthermore, we aim to improve the irrigation system of the garden. This will enable it to survive the drought which comes after the heavy rains; the ever-challenging climate of Malawi!

One of our exciting developments is that we have provided an opportunity for some of our Malawian graduates to come up with a proposal, either for an income generating activity or an activity which may empower the vulnerable in the community. We believe that these grassroot initiatives could have great potential and we hope to update you with a success story about this in our next newsletter.

In May another container is leaving from the UK, going to Salima, we have already reserved our space. Kudimba’s George, Ruthie and Judy have worked behind the scene all year round to collect and store second hand items such as sewing machines, hospital equipment, laptops, phones; which will have a new life in Malawi.

Thank you very much for your support, your donations and your encouragement,
Kudimba is going strong and we could not achieve all of this without you.

Bye for now,
The Kudimba Team

Kudimba’s Judy arrived in Lifuwu in October to organise more of the project’s development, she did an excellent job and worked together well with the local Kudimba team: Max, Cornelio, Mr. Gombachika, Mercy and the building contractors.

Mr. Gombachika, Cornelio and kids.

In the meanwhile Judy is known in the village as ‘agogo’, she started off explaining that her name is Judy but it all gets a bit complicated because that’s a hard word to say for a Malawian.

She decided instead to say ‘my name is agogo’ which is Chichewa for grandma. The kids fall about laughing when she says it but they do seem to recognise agogo now.

So what has happened in the last few months:

We managed to buy buffalo bikes for all our staff members, as well as for our student James.

Buffalo bikes and their happy owners

The buffalo bike is a very strong, durable and reliable bicycle specially designed for people like him, who live in rural areas of developing countries. The buffalo bicycle is deliberately compatible with locally available spare parts, requiring only basic tools for maintenance and repair.

Now they can get to and from work and school more easily, safer and quicker. They were all over the moon as you could see in the picture previously.

Our staff member Mercy has now fully embraced her new role, she helps out with the garden and looks after visitors, both which she does with a lot of dedication and care.

Kudimba was lucky enough to have a visit from a Malawian permaculture expert who organised a two day course for the staff, to design and plan the development of our garden. We now know better how to deal with excess rainwater and how to protect our garden.

In the meanwhile we have developed the garden further, planted many more trees and developed a rice plantation ready for this year’s rainy season.

The rice field of Kudimba Foundation

We were eagerly anticipating these rains until…

We made a lot of progress on our large education building, so far that the thatch roof was nearly finished, but then a construction problem combined with heavy rains damaged our roof and set us back.

Educational centre

We decided not to dwell on things, not to waste any time and to start all over again with the construction of the roof, this time we’ll do it better and stronger.

This means that financially as well as time wise we are set back, but this is the way things go in general in Malawi and we have to accept this as a part of the development. Each time we learn a valuable lesson and we focus on the positive: at least it happened now before the construction was finalised and luckily the building itself did not get damaged.

It is important to mention, Kudimba Foundation can build this education centre thanks to the support of the Provincial Government of West-Flanders, Belgium.

Next on the agenda is the improvement of the kitchen area for the staff and the development of a covered laundry area where the water will be recycled for our garden.

Once the education building is finished we also plan to improve the wall and gate around Kudimba. We plan to develop further our system to generate our daily energy needs from sustainable sources, such as solar electricity and warm water from a solar heater, to allow us to be more independent.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all our Kudimba friends.
Thank you for your loyal support

The Kudimba team