By Alice Leaper
I can’t start this newsletter without mentioning, praising, thanking, admiring our new best friends Jen and Jeff. They came in October and just left at the end of February. They were the first to help out Butterfly as a business. Jen and Jeff took helping to another level; they were involved in so much. I now know we took advantage of their hard working ethic and have learnt that the next volunteer will need more structure. I hope they would say they had overall a good experience and would be willing to discuss with any potential person/s that may be interested. We are currently looking for someone who wants to fill this position and for the right person it can be an amazing opportunity. You receive free accommodation and an evening meal here at the lodge as well as cost price drinks, and while there will be some Butterfly work there will be time to get involved in projects that you are interested in. We want this position to be a permanent one so if you are interested now or in the future please get in touch.
Jen and Jeff by no means just helped with the business, they were really keen to manage the volunteers as well as get into projects. Jen would chair a weekly volunteer meeting which is something that we have continued and has been really beneficial to the group that stay. The forum of ideas and pleas for help amongst the individuals gets volunteers helping each other and getting more things achieved. Each time I walk past their A frame I think of them with fondness. Miss you guys!
Jeff continued to train the young boy’s football team, who were nearly undefeated but the last couple of games were lost when he couldn’t make it- lucky charm. The mutual respect between the boys and him was inspiring. In the past I have trained the boys and taken them to matches but Jeff, being male and a lot ‘cooler’, really made a difference. I think he used me being coach again as a threat if they didn’t do enough push ups. They are at a difficult age when aggression on and off the pitch can cause problems but working through sport to tackle teenage problems and struggles can see great results on and off the pitch.
Morna also made an amazing impact and was great too have around. She really got her hands stuck in with the nutrition workshops and learnt a lot through Mrs Mwalungile a lady who works in agriculture locally. She met with many different groups and had them at Butterfly doing workshops in Garlic and ginger and had them cooking up a storm. She also started to write up the ways and means for carrying out the workshops to make it easier for other volunteers to follow suit.
There was some tragic news in the youth club when we heard of young Beatrice passing away. She used to come every day and was ‘best friends’ in her sisters words with our manager Ophanuel. Malaria took her suddenly and it was a sombre time as we remembered her. We had another Chikale School Fayre around Christmas and we took Flame Trees to plant either side of the path and made an avenue in her memory.
Youth club has taken a different format because of the boy getting older and having different interests. This has enabled the next generation to step up and they have a new energy and enthusiasm for all the volunteer’s games and lessons. One of the most popular volunteers- Andy, named Mr Bean by the children, got creative with them constructing sand sculptures, building bottle rockets and generally hanging out. There is definite need for new and innovative people to come out and work with the new guys. There are now five different groups (girls, disables, u15, big guys and sports) that use the space and a hive of activity for anyone who is good with children.
Andy, Jen, Josie, Dani and I also went up to Chikale School to make videos of the children for their pen pals in England, and the school link with Lepton C of E Primary School. This is done through British Council connecting classrooms initiative and will see a permanent curriculum link between the schools. It was very exciting as the first project was chosen, ‘Culture in a Box’ and the aim was for each school to represent their own culture with 10 things and describe and send these projects to each other. Rosie, a volunteer who you will see popping up throughout the newsletter as she dabbles in most of our projects, has created the most beautiful worksheets on the culture of Malawi, and as we speak the schools are receiving each others package which we hope to photograph and put up on the Facebook page. This is something I think there will be more of as there are more schools wanting to touch and feel Africa. Andy will visit Crossways Primary when back in England to report on his experience here.
Andy was also great fun round the lodge putting on a hilarious quiz night and bringing his zany vivacious character to brighten us all up. He was also someone to get involved with the radio group along with Jeff. Jeff was really dedicated and very popular with the group, making good progress with the technical side of the equipment we do have. The growing group now meet twice a week and have been focusing on their basic journalist skills and getting to know the equipment. Lauren Kent came back for a brief encounter and re wrote the handbook along with bringing her motivation and energy to all around. Rosie has taken over leading the group and has pushed the meetings to be held in the new media room, which is near finishing with all hands on deck painting and varnishing. The equipment is still yet to move in and we are hoping for a few more computers to have editing software on as well as a radio so they can work towards a professional standard. Tionge one of the group members has completed a course in journalism led a session and shared some of the knowledge form her course. They were sent out to do practice reports and there was the annual event of Martyr’s day that led them all to town with new voice recorders that Dani, Josie’s sister bought out. In 1959, 31 people were shot dead in the fight for independence here in this town.
This occasion is important to me. I have been working on a film for the last year with Mr Chunda who is a very interesting older character from our community. He has taken me around interviewing political prisoners of the time and collecting information on the events surrounding the day. I joined the memorial committee and we were very busy publicising and fundraising for the event. Of course I roped in some customers here to help with painting banners, thanks Milla and Sue. There is still a lot of work to be done editing and visiting some more choirs but I hope to finish the film in the next few months.
I have decided to start using my camera a lot more. I have missed being behind the lens and have had so much fun making another music video for another local artist –Sweetman who you can check out on u tube soon. Dani, Josie’s sister very kindly and spectacularly fire hula hooped in the video, it was a great evening dodging lake flies and watching the show. She has been a joy to have around especially for Josie as they enjoy some time off together. She has also been helping the widows with some new designs of skirts and generally being great company and fun.
Who would have thought we would have two hula hoopers here at once. Keena also stayed longer and was so busy helping all over. She has helped fund the new idea to harvest water at Chikale primary. The rain will be collected and provide a water source for the children to drink and wash during most of the year. The tank is now finished and next step will be the guttering fixed onto the roof. A big thanks to Keena for this and also two recent donations from Laura Hardy and her family have meant we have enough o definitly finish. Keena also made some really good purse belts that have been very popular and sold around town at a profit for the projects. She never stopped and was a tank on the sewing machine as well with anything she put her mind to and is missed so much by Buttefly.
The nursery school continues in leaps and bounds. The nursery training course for 20 teachers was a great success and I was asked to think about putting on a second phase. Anna did an amazing job with her lesson planning, schedule and motivating the children and then Libby another qualified teacher from England came to follow up her work. She knew every child’s song there is to know and was so energetic with her planning and teaching. The lovely French Charley has been going up there every day and being a handy man fixing things up and constructing bits and bobs to make the school more efficient. Emma Norris the winner of the Peter Bath Rotary award came for two whole months. She worked on the younger class which is usually avoided by our volunteers. She worked alongside Zione and was so caring and sweet natured, perfect for the littl’uns’. Her passion went further when a knitting circle was set up. Elaine part of a mature couple Ian and Elaine and Eva from Australia expressed there interest in all my donated wool. We invited a few women, some wives of employees and set to work. Emma made a small crèche so the mum’s could be free with their needles. Elaine taught and downloaded patterns but soon found the women were already highly skilled. We are no selling lovely baby suits for a small income; they also take home a small gift each session, of sugar, clothes or soap. It has become a great atmosphere as the ladies bring friends and visitors and have interesting discussions and have a dancing tea party two afternoons a week.
Ian and Elaine were very busy here with computer lessons. They had very busy timetables and many successful students, among them the District Commissioner’s daughter and the Officer in Charge. Ian constructed a happiness survey which had very interesting results.
The success of the nursery and the kind donations of particularly Colin Johnson, Chris and Sophie Gill, Rowan Temple from Wareham Rotary and of course my dear mum, have enabled me to start another one. This one will be very different and will need a lot more support. It is in a small village about an hour away from the lodge called Dindano. There are very few people with jobs up the massive hill and terrible road. The parents will not be able to afford fees for paying teachers and buying healthy porridge. Building has started and is a big challenge to get materials to the site. The road is really hard on the truck and I have already popped two tyres and had to have community spirit exercised as the football team push me up the hill. It is such a pleasure to be doing it though, the community are so excited with the development and most are working for free and are so enthused with this prospect. Their efforts have been rewarded with a new football kit donated by Thornbury teams. I hope that volunteers teachers will take the challenge on as well, it would be a different experience with the long walk or the opportunity to sleep there some nights as there will be a small room for this purpose but no power miles around. Rosie has written a small blurb for potential teachers that we hope to put on the website.
I have got involved in another building project at Kunyanja secondary school. I have just committed to go once a week and check on how things are running as well as supplying materials in the truck. They are looking for help as they have many exciting development plans for the future. You can check out their website for more information www…. They are always looking for secondary school teachers in a variety of subjects.
I have been alone working with the disabled guys but thank goodness there is a girl that can help-Milla. She has only just arrived but as well as the Monday group she is going to do some home visits while she is here. She has been a live in carer back in Canada so I’m sure the visits will be successful. As always we are looking for occupational therapists to come and offer more skilled help for this group that is ever growing. Sophie who has been working at St John of God special needs school and is an OT has been here a few Mondays and shared her knowledge and has left me a lot of reading to do. She is on her way home but the children have benefited from her exercises and help. We have set up a partnership with the headmaster and I am hoping we might make a trip with our youth to Mzuzu in the future.
Butterfly’s news continues and spreads further. People come and visit; hearing from others who have been here or from all the work Josie does networking. She will be hosting a permaculture course this month with Tichafa Makovere an experienced facilitator from Zimbabwe, and the lodge will be full of people from all over. With the people coming from outside we have managed to subsidise 7 places for local facilitators as well to attend the course. The practical’s will also be held at Chikale Primary which will benefit from some great work. A Special thanks to Maddy and Tim Harland at the Permaculture Magazine UK who supported us in this endeavour. Their daughter Gayle also visited us for a short time in March and helped out around site and we hope this link can enable us to attempt more permaculture ideasi n an environment where they really change lives. Please continue to support us, or come back and visit, as the projects can’t run without you. Thanks until then.
“Hidden in our hearts is a longing to live deeply and with purpose and joy, to know and to be known, to be concerned with another; and to make a difference. In this dance of giving and receiving, we create our community, our World and ourselves”