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

Newsletter Autumn 2018

Dearest Kudimba friends,

For the Autumn newsletter we have a special lined up for you.

Kate and Monica are Scottish medical students who volunteered in the local clinic whilst staying in Kudimba. We hope you enjoy reading their story.

Kate and Monica

“Our medical school elective to Malawi started with a 23 hour journey from Glasgow, Scotland. On our arrival in Malawi, me and my friend Monica were greeted by a very smiley and friendly Max. He drove us the 2 hour journey from Lilongwe to Kudimba in Lifuwu, showing us the points of interest and helping us get some basic supplies for our stay. The first view of the lake at sunset was impressive and we knew that we were in for a good 5 weeks in Malawi! After unpacking and settling in to our new home we bedded down under the mosquito nets for some much needed sleep.

The two chalets and the office building

The following morning we explored the small, friendly village of Lifuwu and acquainted ourselves with the beach. The children playing in the lake were keen to show us the small fish they had caught and Monica was lucky enough to hold one of them! We sussed out where to get the motorbike to the clinic, an unusual commute but fun nonetheless. We spoke to Cornelio and his family who live at Kudimba whilst cooking with our ingredients bought at the market earlier.

On our second full day in Malawi we began our placement at Pothawira Mission. Mr Peter Maseko established Pothawira in 2011 with his lovely wife Emma. On the large site a few minutes out of Salima Town there is a health centre, primary school and orphanage. Monica and I were based in the health centre which runs a busy outpatient clinic seeing 200-300 patients per day. Many of these patients are diagnosed with Malaria using the blood spot testing available in the clinic. By offering these services at a higher quality than government hospitals and lower cost than other private clinics the organisation has flourished and provides vital services to the community.

Days at the clinic were long but varied. We rotated between consultation rooms, treatment room, triage area and malaria testing room. Mr Maseko and the nurses were excellent supervisors and taught us how to dress horrendous wounds, perfect our injection technique and quickly assess patients. We learnt so much about healthcare in developing countries and how to make the most of available equipment in a poor resource setting.

Towards the end of our placement we visited Kunyumba (the day care centre for vulnerable children), we spent a lovely afternoon playing in the sand with the children. It was such a beautiful and happy place, you could tell the children were so fulfilled and that the staff love what they do.

The new brick chalet

Our time in Malawi would not have been the same without the help of the Kudimba staff. Cornelio gave us advice on where to buy the best tomatoes and helped us feel generally safe and secure during our stay in Kudimba. Mercy was an incredible help, she made sure we had healthy and tasty meals cooked for when we arrived back from Pothawira, cleaned the chalet and did our washing (my least favourite chore). I don’t think we could have coped without her!

Monica and I had such a good time in Malawi. We saw the highs and the lows of healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, experienced Malawian culture, ate some amazing food (we would highly recommend Mercy’s rice and beans!), saw some beautiful beaches, met some wonderful, caring people and got to live in a stunning part of the world for a few weeks. Thank you to everyone to made our trip so incredible, especially Maaike!”

We are delighted that Kate and Monica had such a rewarding time with Kudimba. At the same time they showed great resilience in dealing with the challenging realities of life and healthcare in Malawi. We hope that many more volunteers and visitors will follow their footsteps.

The office building

The first picture shows Kate and Monica at the clinic. Also have a look at the other pictures and admire our newest Kudimba developments: the finished office building and the cherry on the cake; our newest beautiful guest chalet, this time in brick. We have managed to build this chalet thanks to a very generous donation of Gina and Adam from the USA who have supported Kudimba- and Austin’s studies- for several years now. Zikomo Kwambiri!

The next newsletter will be reported live from Malawi again, with updates and pictures of more exciting new developments!

Newsletter Summer 2018

Dear Kudimba friends,

It’s already time for another Kudimba update.

There is a lot to tell…where to start?

We have made good progress with our latest project: the administration building with two bathrooms, office, garage, store room and room for the watchman.

With the help of our French volunteer and a local Malawian plumber, we now have two working showers, sinks and two toilets, the floors in the bathrooms are done and there is electricity in the whole building. We have managed to get motion detection LED lights around the outside of the building which we chose for security reasons and they are very low on energy consumption.

We have been very lucky with our local electrician, a long time friend, who has helped by installing all the electricity in our new building on his days off, free of charge. He has done a fabulous job and in return for his help we have decided to assist him and his family to acquire their own plot of land. In the future we hope to help him to build his own home, a modest traditional house, more about that later in this newsletter.

All of this progress we have managed to realise as our good friend Ruth, our new Trustee who was introduced to you in the previous newsletter has very kindly assisted us with a budget for the roof of this building. It was impossible to continue the works inside the building before the roof was finished, as the rainy season lasted much longer than expected. We have named it Ruthie’s roof.

We still have some more work to finalise in the administration building before it is completely finished, but the end is in sight.

Kudimba also finally has a solar pump with which we can pump water from our own borehole.
Our watertank is now filling entirely by solar energy, which is such a satisfying fact.
It fills completely in only two hours.

We have had our first rice harvest in Kudimba, as we made good use of all the excess rainwater on our land. Cornelio managed to harvest 5 bags of unshelled rice, which will be about 150 kg or 3 bags when shelled.

Further news is that our annual participation in a charity container going from the UK to Malawi was really successful again.
We were excited to receive kitchen equipment, tools, second hand phones and hospital equipment, all of this was delivered in Salima, almost to our doorstep. We distributed the hospital equipment to a local clinic. The second hand phones we gave to the electrician mentioned earlier, for him to check and fix and then set up a small business with which he can generate the funds to build his own family home.

Our next building plans are firstly the finishing of the administration building, then we will start another chalet for volunteers and then hopefully towards the end of the summer our central point: the education centre, more news about these exciting plans in the next newsletter. We are thinking of employing another staff member to join Cornelio and Mr. Gombachika with the building as it still is a lot of work. Cornelio and Mr. Gombachika are working really hard and we are impressed with their commitment and the quality of their work. The work they do is usually more precise compared to the work of outside professional contractors we sometimes have to get in.

In the meanwhile our newest student/staff member Mercy has been occupied with her computer lessons and driving license.
At this very moment she is learning how to look after our visitors, which will be Mercy’s role in the future.
We have got two enthusiastic volunteers in Kudimba at the moment, Kate and Monica, they are Scottish medical students and are working at the local hospital. Right from the moment of arrival, they dived straight into helping out at the hospital, which we are very pleased with and very proud of. Undoubtedly they will have lots to do, usually there are long queues of people waiting in line to be seen at the hospital. In addition, they are guiding Mercy to learn hospitality skills for future guests. We hope they also take a fews days off in their 5 weeks stay in Kudimba to enjoy the beauty of Malawi and to spend some time with the Kunyumba kids.

We have been very impressed with the Kudimba fundraising events which have been happening in Belgium over the past few months. Some of our supporters have organised a strawberry sale on a market in Lauwe which was really successful. Also our long time loyal friends from the Zikomo project have supported Kudimba financially through their bicycle tyre recycling project they have been running over the past few years. Their stall at a Belgian festival was – as usual- a big success. A very big thank you!

More updates after the summer!

The Kudimba team