By Josie Redmonds
Arriving back into a full lodge after time away is always quite shocking, and it was no different this time when I returned in August, it was packed. I always feel like pretending to be a guest for a day or two until I feel more settled. But this is impossible as you get sucked into the things going on around you and on top of that, AJ was leaving in two weeks so we had to have a very quick turn around. Also after a longer break away you feel full of beans and raring to go. I had cemented some links while in the UK and wanted to see these working on the ground. Massive thanks must be sent to Andy Jacobs and The Rotary Club of Blythe Bridge & District for their donation of two laptops and also Danny Savage who got me loads of things for the media room including two projectors and enough films to last us a while. Geoff Skelhorn also sent speakers and all of this equipment we managed to bring over with us thanks to the large suitcases of my friend Julie who came with me to help out at Butterfly for a while.
While there were a lot of people in August when I arrived, there seemed to be a big exodus as seems to be the case as the summer holidays in Europe end. Some others such as Salome and the very handy Richard from Alaska stayed on and there were also a few new long term arrivals which helps. Mbali from South Africa was one such volunteer and she was a pleasure to have around and got involved in as much as she could. Initially starting with the nursery school, but diversifying whenever she could. She continued the weekly visits going to the special needs group, who couldn’t come to Butterfly because of the lack of transport. But she visited them every Monday, rounding them up and getting them involved in an activity and cooking together. She also gave many people computer lessons in the information room and put her engineering expertise to use by building us a solar cooker here at Butterfly. This will be a brilliant demonstration to people here and we will hold some cooking workshops with the women to show them how to use it. Unfortunately the rains have started here so it is not as effective at the moment so we are storing it safely for later on.
Laetitia was another lady who came over in September, and massive thanks must to said to her for bringing three laptops, organized by DavidTemple. It was a valiant effort as Laetitia was only in London a day or two at a friends house and they managed to meet up to get them over here. Thanks so much. Laetitia herself is a teacher and wanted to work together with a school and their teachers. She initially started off with Chikale Primary, but after the teachers showed little enthusiasm, a problem we have encountered before here, then we introduced her to Chindozwa. They have a new headmaster there, Mr. Phiri, who I know from the football coaching in town and he is brilliant, so that is good news for that school. And Laetitia enjoyed it much more and threw herself into the role, working with all the teachers, developing some more resources for them and making real friends. She
also used the media centre to show the staff how to use power point and pass on some other useful teaching tips. The media room has really potential in this way because now it is all wired up and the projector functioning again, anyone with an area of expertise can come in and teach an interested group their stuff very easily. The staff at Chindozwa were definitely sorry to see her go, as were we all.
Adam and Emma also became familiar faces around the Butterfly, as they arrived to volunteer at Kunyanja Pvt Secondary school. While working full time at Kunyanja where they really got involved organizing drama and debate clubs and again having a group of teachers up for a demonstration of how to best utilize the media room, they also got involved here at Butterfly. They left us with loads of useful resources for the information centre and made many friends around the place. They helped to
initiate a pub quiz in the bar on a Thursday night which proved a massive success and got increasingly more competitive.
The nursery school as well has had a number of enthusiastic volunteers despite Alice being away. A friend of mine from home, Julie, has been helping out and taking the Procession of kids to nursery every morning. Another girl called Mia also helped out for a few weeks even though, unusually, she didn’t stay at Butterfly. Julie and Alan also came and got involved for over a month and Julie took the nursery to her heart. She worked amazingly with the teachers, and had new sessions planned for each day. The kids came on leaps and bounds. She also enrolled Alan to fix the toilet up there making a big difference. The y also recorded loads of different songs and rhymes for the nursery school and Julie bought a tape recorder and batteries so that the kids can have a sing along each day.
Sophie and Gemma also got massively involved in the nursery school, and Butterfly in general, making lots of new resources and introducing new games…..including the chocolate dice game which became a favorite here at Butterfly. I have never seen so many over excited adults shrieking as we rolled the dice and hoped for a six. People were really militant.
Alan doubled up working in the media room: working on the computer network and sorting computers out- a constant issue here because of the virus problem. He also had a couple of students which he took under his wing to teach different aspects of computers, they were out and about taking interviews and the like.
While working in the media room we got re introduced to Malamula who is currently studying computers in Blantyre, and will soon be heading to Dublin, but had used the internet room here for many years. He has really helped us out, volunteering to sort out the computers and re-formatting them and sourcing loads of free software so we should not have the same problems again. It was such a nice thing as after some weeks working here I tried to pay him and he wouldn’t take anything saying he had benefitted so much from the computer room.
We have also had some more really positive feedback from local Malawi artists; it really feels like things are coming together. Joel Mkandawire an award winning documentary maker and lecturer at Mzuzu Journalism College contacted us and has been down and held workshops with the radio group on a number of occasions. He is so inspiring to talk with and really believes in radio as a low cost means for these kids to express themselves. Like he says, nowadays anyone with a phone can be a reporter. He has been down several times over the holidays to conduct workshops and has also sent other lecturers and producers down to pass on their knowledge. The workshops have been well attended and fills us with hope for our Nkhata Bay radio in the future.
We had another interesting introduction when Michael Phoya passed through and donated us a signed copy of his book to the information centre here. He has recently premiered a Malawi film called ‘my fishing boat’ and is based down in Cape Town working in film. He also has expressed interest to come to the media centre and do a workshop on film making which would be really inspirational.
I also cannot fail to mention Jimmy Anderson AKA Chiozo, who is a musician I met two years ago at the lake of stars festival. He had been threatening for some time to come and visit us here at Butterfly to see what we do and he finally made it after the Moon Rock Festival in Chinteche in October where he performed. He is a really inspirational guy and it is so beautiful to have a musician around the place, both singing down on the lake shore and playing guitar. He went with Laetitia up to the primary school and had the kids involved in a big sing along. It was a lovely day and the kids loved it.
He also put us on a couple of shows in the bar, the first to celebrate Haile Selassie and the last one in November with his band doing a Jimi Hendrix tribute. They were absolutely amazing on both occasions and packed the bar out. On the second one we did a collection for the carvers to get plastic for their roofs and raised the KW6000 they needed passing the hat. In January Chiozo starts on a mammoth mission to walk from Cape Town to Cape Town to Cairo, linking up musical projects and communities along the way. We hope he will pass here around October and stop in to do a show en-route and will be working with him along the way to spread the word and assist in any way we can. There are numerous spin off links between Jimmy and the community here in Nkhata Bay keep in touch with us through the Facebook page if you want to keep track of the progress. A web-site will be out at later date actually recording Jimmy’s physical progress, amongst other ways to get involved; we will let you know about this as soon as possible.
Rhiya Trivedi has also been another influential volunteer in the media room. Working with Kwame they developed a plan for the campaign to stop the oil exploration in Lake Malawi. Kwame has been super busy and visiting different regions in the country. Here he has met with church leaders and community groups, explaining the situation and providing them with petitions to sign and return. There is also an on-line petition so please get yourself to the site and sign it. http://www.change.org/en-GB/
It would be a travesty if they are allowed to drill for oil in the beautiful lake as unlike the sea it could not recover from accidents that are inevitable. Please sign the petition on line and even more if you know of other useful things that we can do or you are involved activism and have recommendations then please get in touch. At the moment it is only in the prospecting change so there is still time.
I have also been getting more involved with the lessons for the school link projects with Chikale Primary and Lepton C of E. This year we are attempting two projects and the first one, eating is believing’ has been completed this term. The kids explained different vegetables, from Malawi and different recipes using it., as well as other useful information about it on nutrition and origin etc. It is amazing really the differences between the realities of the pupils; here all the foods eaten here are grown here, I don’t think we could do that anymore in the U.K.? and the realities were summed up when on e of the kids here asked well where do they get groundnuts from if they don’t grow them????? We did a quiz on the information posters on the last day of term , with a prize for the winners and they loved it. Next term we will do the farming topic. Throughout the term we did work in the garden every Friday afternoon with the children from standard 7. We planted passion fruits and made compost amongst other things but the hard work will begin in earnest now the rains have started.
One reason we are concentrating up agricultural topics is because we have recently become involved in a national program with Chikale Primary School. We were invited to join the Re Scope program which is a spin off from the highly successful School and College Permaculture Program through Fambidzani in Zimbabwe. I went to the initial meeting in Blantyre at the end of September, and since then we have had two lots of training on Integrated Land Use Design. Ophanuel our manager and Memory our gardener went on the first two week training which they enjoyed thoroughly and met many interesting people involved in Permaculture throughout Malawi. Just the last two weeks, then two members from the school, one teacher, Terence and one PTA member Robert attended are we are awaiting their return in the next day or so to see what they have learnt. We will get everybody together at the start of January at the school to put our ideas and designs into practice on the ground.
Around site at Butterfly there have been a few changes as things are never static here. We have a new lady cleaner, Winnie, who is a pleasure to have around and new members of staff in the kitchen after Mizard left. We also lost Kwame from the media room. It was closed for a few weeks but we now look to have it open fully again as Dunstan has offered to volunteer to open it and learn there until we make another plan. It is good news because there are kids in the recording studio everyday composing there own songs and learning how to DJ, it would be a shame for it not to be open. We have also recently installed a faster internet connection here in the media room, which is instantly better although much more than you guys have to pay for it in Europe; over 200 dollars a month, and nowhere near as fast yet. We do have the potential to upgrade with this service so we are hoping we can increase the takings to get it organized. So if anyone feels like getting on a fundraising effort then this is what I would ask it to go to. For the media centre to be of full use we need to be able to have it fast enough to download and upload things. On this note we won a vote at the University of East Anglia student union recently to be their International charity to fundraise for. Thanks Harriet Topping, a previous volunteer, for that one….keep spreading the word.
One very sad departure from Butterfly was the death of Yuka, our much loved Great Dane. We are not sure what actually happened to him but he became very ill and stopped eating. Three trips to the vet, and various medicines administered failed to see any improvement and after even failing to get a drip inside him he died. Very sad.
One thing we can say is that he will never be forgotten.
So now Christmas is around the corner and our new volunteers are settling down. Eline is carrying youth club on with the girls group coming twice weekly and she is also hoping to do more nutrition and income generation work with the FAWN’s group. Hayley who is here for a while has already started getting involved in many areas and I feel is going to be massively helpful for the organization of our projects here. We have several more people arriving after Xmas but until then i’ve just got to decide on some lovely recipes and get the ingredients in for a lovely Xmas here on Butterfly beach.
“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”