Newsletter Autumn 2020

Dear Kudimba friends,

Life in Lifuwu and in Kudimba is going well. 

Our precious Alimah is better. Kudimba’s ever-smiling girl had been very unwell the past few months. We were desperate to help her. Despite looking for medical assistance, the reason for her deterioration was a mystery.  In Malawi healthcare facilities as well as healthcare personnel are limited, and due to the Covid-19 situation combined with the presidential elections it was even more difficult to find appropriate medical care for her. We persisted and finally we have more information about her condition. She has been diagnosed with cutaneous lupus erythematosus.  Amongst other factors, direct sunlight and anticonvulsants can be contributing factors to this illness,  as you can imagine this is a challenge for an epileptic African girl with special needs.  However, with this knowledge we can do everything within our power to keep her healthy and to assist her family to care for her as best as possible. For a while it was touch and go for Alimah, but finally and luckily she is herself again, including the smiles.  We are now going to mollycoddle her – in the shade- and boost her weight with plentiful and nutritious meals. 

Alimah

All other Kudimba children are well and we are delighted that Christian has joined us again, his family returned to Lifuwu and Christian is back where he belongs: in Kudimba.

In the past few weeks three more children have joined our forces: Rufina (12 yrs), Stevellia (6 yrs) and Richard (15 yrs).  A proper introduction for these three children will follow.

At this time, Kudimba provides care for 29 participants on a daily basis, all children and young people with special needs. Some children are very limited in their independence, others are very autonomous, we observe with pride and joy as they help out their less abled friends to overcome some obstacles. 

The education centre is at full capacity with these participants and with the present staffing, especially considering the care for Hawa, who we have briefly introduced in the previous newsletter. Due to the severity of her disability Hawa requires a high level of care as she needs assistance with all aspects of daily life. 

You might remember that we were looking for a transport solution for Hawa. This 16 year old girl cannot manage to walk to Kudimba every day. We have given the family a buffalo bike, which is specially designed for developing countries, meaning it can support the transport of heavier weight and it can withstand the type of roads like we have in Lifuwu. We had a trolley made to go behind the bike on which Hawa can be comfortably driven to Kudimba. 

Hawa can be comfortably driven to Kudimba in her trolley

Organising the transport and offering daycare to Hawa means not only a huge improvement in the life of this young girl but also a transformation of the lives of the whole  (extended) family. In Malawi a bicycle can be a source of income and the family can take up an activity in the hours they have now available when Hawa’s care is in the hands of the dedicated Kudimba team.

The bike and trolley for Hawa

The daily care for the 29 children is provided by 5 full time staff members. At present we employ 8 full time and 1 part time staff member. 

We trust on Mr. Gombachika, Matilda and Patricia to look after the garden and grow fruits and vegetables. Since we organised the permaculture workshops everyone is highly motivated.  The children have had their first meal with home grown vegetables and everyone is very excited about this. 
Next to their work in the garden, Patricia and Matilda will be looking after visitors once they finally return. We are eagerly awaiting students to join Kudimba for their placements again, but we will have to wait a few more months before their universities give the green light for them to travel to Malawi.

The construction of our communal house is ready, only some finishing touches to add before it is completed. On the picture you can already have a sneak peek of what is coming. In this communal house we will welcome students, volunteers, local experts and anyone who wants to contribute to the further development of Kudimba.  We are very grateful that we  have been able to set up this communal house thanks to the support of the Province of West-Flanders, combined with the help of some loyal Kudimba supporters, it will enable us to push the project further in the future. 

The communal house

If you would like to support a child in Kudimba,  a monthly donation to the project is most welcome.  A one off donation assists with the further development of our project.  Do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to assist, even the smallest contribution helps to make a difference.

 More Kudimba news will follow in our winter update.

 Keep well in the meanwhile. Look after yourself and each other.

The Kudimba team

Newsletter Summer 2020

Dear Kudimba friends,

At long last here is our summer update. 
 
Things are almost back to normal in Kudimba, though since the last newsletter a lot has happened in Malawi and in the day-care centre.
 
To start with, here is a brief explanation of the political change in the country, as there is now a brand-new president. 
 
Peter Mutharika, former president of Malawi, had been re-elected for a second term in the 2019 elections. However, the Constitutional Court cancelled the results of these elections after they were contested by the opposing candidates due to irregularities. 
 
On the 28th of June 2020 historic re-elections took place, an exceptional accomplishment in Africa. The opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has been elected by a large majority as the new president of Malawi for a five-year term.
 
The people of Malawi and the rest of the world have reacted with relief, it was time for a change. There is renewed hope for the future, partly due to a promised focus on combating fraud and tackling social problems. Both are essential for progress in Malawi. For example, the situation of people with a disability in general is arduous and very striking from the perspective of our work in Kudimba. 
 
The situation with Covid-19 is still unpredictable and unstable in Malawi. So far 3858 people have tested positive for the virus, and 107 people have died according to the Ministry of Health (30/07/20). Neighbouring countries such as South Africa have seen many victims, and although the rate of infection has risen a lot in Malawi, the number of victims still seem moderate.
 
In collaboration with a local health institution, Kudimba had launched an information campaign about Covid-19 for the wider community. We found it necessary to disseminate correct information tailored to the needs of the community. We also aimed to improve the conditions for health professionals by making protective medical material available and providing educational sessions around Covid-19.
 
On the one hand, we tried our best to sensitise and assist the population in combating the spread of the virus, on the other hand our efforts became somehow pointless. As presidential election campaigns were being organised all over the country, large crowds gathered to applaud the candidates. There was no sign of social distancing or limiting contacts. We have decided to halt our campaign for now and observe what happens next.

Chisomo enjoyed a little bike ride with Austin on the Kudimba tandem bike

The Kudimba staff have excelled in their duties during the Covid-closure by organising outreach care for the children and their families. They have also organised food distribution events. The staff’s dedication and thoroughness has been impressive. 
 
In the past few weeks, we have made the most of the obligatory closure by organising some workshops; a permaculture workshop for the staff and then a creative workshop for the staff and the older children.

During the first interactive workshop, the Kudimba team studied the philosophy and gained practical knowledge about permaculture under the guidance of a local expert. An exciting part of this program was about recycling and the production of creative products from recycled materials.

The second workshop was for the staff and the older participants of Kudimba. A local teacher came to instruct the team on how to make small furniture out of recycled cardboard, adjusted for children with a disability. Frankie is one of the Kudimba kids, who is now the enthusiastic new owner of a cardboard chair. Another chair was made for Shamila, who is equally chuffed.

At present in the Lifuwu area – where Kudimba operates, the rates of infections still seem low so we have decided to reopen the day-care centre in the first week of July. All the staff and the kids were over the moon to be back playing together and enjoying the care and, of course, the meals.

We are delighted to announce that, with the reopening, we have accepted three more children into our day-care. Fazila is 12 years old and has a disability from birth; Nordean is nearly 18 months old and was born with a disability; Yohane is 5 and has a physical as well as a learning disability, which became apparent when he was a small toddler.
Soon we are welcoming two more girls: Atupere and Hanifa, two sisters from the Lifuwu area, aged 6 and 9.

Yohane
Nordean

Unfortunately two families have had to leave Lifuwu, so our beloved Christian and Hayiya are no longer able to join the Kudimba activities for now. The corona virus has made life even more difficult for the poorest families and some had no other choice than to move back to their remote home village to be with their extended family. There, people mainly live from what grows in their family garden, mostly maize and some green leafy vegetables. Living in these villages is challenging and limiting, with very few options especially for young people with a disability. We hope to welcome back Christian and Hayiya in Kudimba in the future.

Hawa

Lastly, we have had a request for help from the parents of a 16-year-old girl who has a severe physical disability, this young lady is called Hawa. The family lives relatively far from Kudimba and her father is old and very poor.  As they are in such a precarious situation we really want to help them, although it is not very practical with the distance. We are hoping to find a solution for the daily transport of Hawa, so she can join us soon.  We are planning to buy a Buffalo Bike with a carry on seat so Hawa can be transported to and from the day-care centre every day. 
Without a doubt we will realise an idea for Hawa which we will tell you all about in our next newsletter.

Fingers crossed that we can continue with our activities and continue to grow…

Much Kudimba love from all of us

Newsletter COVID-19

Dear Kudimba friends,

In normal circumstances this Kudimba newsletter should have reached you nearly two months ago, but due to Covid-19 nothing has been normal in the last two months; neither for the people who read this letter, in whichever part of the world you are, nor for the children and staff in Lifuwu.

As the Covid-19 virus spread globally it was also slowly starting to reach Malawi. However, more than the virus itself, the rumours, misinformation and fear about the virus reached Kudimba first. Our actions were paralysed as we didn’t know what to anticipate. Most of the Kudimba children have a weaker immune system and the healthcare services in Malawi are underprepared for a pandemic. With 20 intensive care beds in the whole country and ill-equipped staff we feared the worst if the virus was to proliferate. To date there are 43 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Malawi. As far as we know none of the children or staff of Kudimba have been affected. There is very limited testing capacity for Covid-19, so that is one important factor for the low numbers. But it still seems like Covid-19 is not spreading as fast in Malawi as it does in some other parts of the world. There is not yet a clear explanation as to why the rate is slower. Is it the climate, is it because on average the population is younger, is it because poor people travel less so there is less spread, is there is link with malaria or some childhood vaccinations? It is too soon to tell.

A visit to Shamila’s family

The more dramatic effect of the virus for Malawi is the impact of the restrictions from the government: the transport and food prices have gone up, and for people who live hand-to-mouth, this is the real cause of their hardship. Accessing healthcare for non-Covid related problems is even more challenging than before, with life-threatening consequences. Most of the families in Lifuwu, who are usually just about coping to get by, are now struggling to afford food. Self isolation and increased measures of hygiene are almost impossible for the poorest, most people have to walk to the communal borehole in the village to get water for their household, some families can’t even afford soap. So life in Covid-19 times is very complicated in Malawi, even without an enormous immediate threat of the virus.

Chisomo

Despite our strong intention to keep going for as long as possible with our daycare programme, the situation in Kudimba was becoming complicated. We knew that at this moment more than ever the children needed the food, the care and hygiene they receive in Kudimba, but staff and parents were becoming scared. Recently only five children were attending Kudimba’s education centre and four of those kids were coughing at that time. That is nothing unusual as in Malawi kids are often coughing and sniffling -due to situations like households cooking on open woodfires. However, under the circumstances these coughs sounded much more ominous. Due to Covid-19, public gatherings have been suspended and schools and educational establishments have closed, affecting Kudimba’s student Austin, who is in his final year studying public health at university. In short, our normal routine has been disturbed in every part of its usual pattern which has caused a lot of unease…. On the advice of the District Health Officer and a Medical Officer from Salima, we decided to close the Kudimba doors temporarily.

As Austin has not been able to continue his university degree, he has joined the Kudimba team in organising an outreach programme. Two of our other staff members have stepped up as well; our teachers Antony and Alinafe. Antony is maintaining the infrastructure together with Mr. Gombachika, who looks after the garden. Austin and Alinafe are in charge of the outreach team. They visit all the Kudimba children at home on a regular basis, to explain about Covid-19, they clarify what families can do to protect themselves better, they distribute soap and food to those who need it the most.

In the meantime, there has been an opportunity for emergency funding from the Belgian Province of West-Flanders. With their support Kudimba is setting up a partnership with the local Baptist Hospital in Senga Bay to provide essential training and equipment for healthcare facilities and staff in the area. The Lifuwu Health Centre will also be involved in the activities.

The programme we have designed has 9 steps and looks as follows:

  • Training for healthcare staff of the Baptist Hospital in Senga Bay
  • Education session for Chiefs and community volunteers in Senga Bay
  • Training for healthcare staff of the Lifuwu Health Centre
  • Education session for Chiefs, community volunteers and Kudimba staff in Lifuwu
  • Personal Protective Equipment for all healthcare staff
  • Tracing, testing, isolation and treatment of Covid-19 patients
  • Providing locally made facemasks for the community volunteers
  • Community awareness campaign with a mobile van
  • Monitoring, evaluation and reporting

The training sessions will obviously mainly entail Covid-19 response, but we will broaden these sessions with information on how to deal with other infectious diseases such as cholera, malaria, HIV/Aids, etc… We are excited to start the programme this coming week.
For Austin, this is such an interesting opportunity to be involved with as he puts his public health studies into practice. We are looking forward to restarting our daycare activities again soon and also to receive visitors and students for their placements. A normal Kudimba newsletter will be published when this is the case with more Kudimba updates.

Take care & stay safe
The Kudimba team

Newsletter Christmas 2019

Dear Kudimba friends,

We hope this finds you well and that you find our Christmas update as exciting as we do! …

The little Kudimba train is up and running. Our small team is doing their best and the children and  young adults are flourishing and now feel completely at home in Kudimba. 

The Christmas Boys

We are making good progress towards welcoming the next 16 children who are on the waiting list. The first step in this process is that we are employing two new staff members from January onward. 

For this further development we have established a link with another organisation in the area, Starfish Malawi. They are a British charity organisation which has been active in Malawi for many years and who we have a connection with through the container which we have participated in for a long time, to ship items over for the project.  We are very excited about this new part of our collaboration.

From January onwards we are starting  regular workshops for the professional development of the Kudimba staff.

As far as the building developments go, things are also progressing quickly. We now have an additional septic tank that is bigger than the first, and is in working order. Our second large watertank, on top of the watertower has been eagerly waiting to start operating and the bathroom in the education centre which has two toilets and two showers, is now finished. Any moment now the sanitation area for the education centre will be ‘baptised’. 

We plan to invest in a bigger solarpump in the coming year as it now has to supply water for two tanks instead of one. 

Fahim

Our communal house is well underway, this house will host co-workers, volunteers and students visiting Kudimba. This construction project has largely been possible thanks to the financial support of the Province of West-Flanders, Belgium.  It should be ready in the next few months. 

Our other plans for 2020 are to build a robust wall around Kudimba with a proper fence. Our reed fence is no longer fit for purpose as it cannot keep the grazing cows, goats and chickens from the neighbourhood off our property and out of our vegetable garden.

We are then planning to further develop the vegetable garden and still plant more trees… surely we can never have enough trees.

Kudimba is eagerly awaiting the delivery of a two seater tricycle which is planned to arrive in January  (with the Starfish container).

Two people can pedal comfortably and next to each other on this bike, so it is ideally suited to provide some independence for people with a disability who would otherwise not be able to cycle at all. 

This gift has been donated to Kudimba by Scottish Autism in Orkney.
We look forward to receiving it, trying it out and sharing lots of great bicycle adventures.

Chifundo and Shamila

We had two nursing students, Mathilde and Louise, from Vives University come to stay and gain experience whilst staying at Kudimba.

Unfortunately Louise had to leave Kudimba early due to some difficult circumstances at home.  Louise, we really enjoyed having you in the project, the Kudimba children instantly warmed  to you and we were sad to see you go. We wish you all the very best with the continuation of your studies. 

Mathilde had a very adventurous stay in Lifuwu, with many unforgettable moments some of which were very challenging, but she didn’t give up and persevered. This young lady has an amazing character!

We are very grateful for Mathilde’s commitment and hard work. She has been involved with the organisation of proper medical files for all the Kudimba children and she has organised staff training sessions around first aid for burns and small wounds, nosebleeds, epilepsy, hand hygiene and appropriate sanctioning. All very relevant topics for Kudimba. 

Mathilde also let her creative beast go and did painting, colouring and craft works with the children as well as organising games and physical activities, the kids loved it and the staff learned a lot from these activities. 

Mathilde and little Stella

Mathilde, the children will surely remember these wonderful experiences for a very long time and as you are now part of the Kudimba family you will be remembered too and welcomed back with open arms whenever you decide to come back. 

We look forward to hosting the next two Vives students, Charlotte and Eline, who will be joining us in Lifuwu in January.

At Vives University in the meanwhile, the eco-technology students have finalised one of their recycling designs which we hope to implement in Kudimba. Their idea is a strong rope which is made out of recycled plastic bags. In its turn this rope can be used to create other things such as toys and other practical applications. 

A very big thank you to all the people who supported Kudimba in 2019 and made it possible for Kudimba to achieve what we did this year and to further develop the project, we are looking forward to a very exciting new year ahead.

All the very best Christmas and New Years wishes from the Kudimba team.

The Kudimba team

Newsletter Autumn 2019

Dear Kudimba friends,

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

Kudimba is rising and growing rapidly and we are very proud to tell you about all that is happening these days.

Here are some numbers:

We now have 17 participants for our day care activities and they are between the ages of 1,5 and 22 years. All participants have a physical or learning disability.

We employ 4 full time staff members for the children and 3 more full time and one part time staff member for the whole project. 

5 of our staff live on the Kudimba site.

Alinafe is the newest member of the team and she seems to fit right in. We can see the love she has for the job and for the children in everything she does, a very good start indeed.

We are supporting 3 young people outside of Kudimba with their education on a regular basis. Our star-student Austin has once again received excellent results, he does us proud.

We support many more young people on a one off basis for urgent medical care or hardship, when we feel that some assistance from our side would make a difference, increase their possibilities or prevent a downward spiral of challenges.

Presently all children and young people who participate in the daycare activities are from the direct area around Kudimba.

At this point we have a waiting list of 10 more children and young people with a disability, all of whom live close but out of walking distance from Kudimba.

Together with another local charity organisation we are trying to set up a bus service for these children, which could bring them to Kudimba in the morning and back home every evening. The bus itself, the driver, the extra staff member and the guardian for the bus are sorted. We are mainly trying to find funding for the cost of the fuel for this transport service at the moment.

Linked to these children on the waiting list, we have received some Malawian experts in the field of disability care: a physiotherapist, a specialised teacher for children with special needs, an expert in cerebral palsy -a common disability in Malawi and in Kudimba- , the project manager of a local orphanage and a staff member of Macoha, Malawi Council for the Handicapped. All these people are really enthusiastic about Kudimba and are motivated to provide regular outreach assistance in the Kudimba setting, for example each one half day per week. 

Their aim is to educate the Kudimba staff on how to improve care for the children and how to organise activities which help with the children’s physical and learning development. 

These professionals would be able to come to Kudimba with the bus service. This is another massive step forward for Kudimba, so we are really keen to get this service started as soon as possible.

We have two wonderful Belgian nursing students staying in Kudimba for three months: Louise and Mathilde. They are final year students at Vives University in Belgium. They are on placement in a local clinic and in a palliative care centre. Two days per week they join the Kudimba team, where they organise activities for the children around hygiene and self care and sessions around first aid for our staff members.

Besides that Louise and Mathilde seem to really enjoy Malawi and they quickly adapted to life here.

Mathilde is involved in the follow up of the care of Andrew, a young person with severe mental health problems who we support. It is an incredible challenge to find appropriate care for young people with such problems in Malawi so any assistance in this difficult journey is much appreciated.

In the meanwhile there is more activity from Vives students in Belgium. The department of eco-technology is working on an eco-design for Kudimba. The concept is an installation which is developed by the students using waste materials and bringing development to our project.

We have started an interesting collaboration with ‘Groep Gidts’ a large West-Flemish organisation for people with a disability who recently offered support to Kudimba in the development of activities for people with special needs. We are trying to link this collaboration to our recycling program and we have already come up with many creative ideas.

We have received an exciting shipment via a container from UK to Malawi which we participated in. We are delighted with the children’s books, a wheelchair, zimmer frames, educational toys, children’s clothes and shoes, sewing machines, towels and bedsheets and much more. It is great to be able to offer all these possibilities to the kids, it really enables them to explore and learn more. A big thank you to everyone involved in collecting, storing, packing, transporting and funding these donations. 

We now have 3 beautiful blackboards and a football goal in the education centre, these were locally made.

We have planted 45 new fruit trees and our vegetable garden is forever growing.

Building works have started for our communal house and we are further developing our infrastructure and sanitation system, we hope to finish these works before spring. 

So once again, more exciting news and pictures to follow in the next newsletter.

The Kudimba team

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

Newsletter Christmas 2018

Dear Kudimba friends,

A year full of exciting new developments ends, most of which were successful, some were more challenging than expected. A great new year lies ahead, our main aim is finally the start up of our on site activities and volunteer skills exchange program, we can’t wait.

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