Malawi, Community

COVID-19 Update

After much discussion, having kept an eye on the situation and assessed the information available, we have decided to close Nyumba ya Masambiro and suspend all volunteer activities effective immediately and until further notice. We have not made this decision lightly – we are sad to have to close the centre and we understand and appreciate the great value that volunteers can add to Ruarwe and its surrounding communities. It is important that we too spread the message of social distancing at this difficult time.

As of a few days ago, the Foreign and Commonwealth office declared that all non-essential travel to Malawi should be avoided due to the risk of quarantine on arrival. This afternoon, President Peter Mutharika announced multiple measures to combat this strain of Coronavirus, including the closure of Malawi’s borders to all those travelling from countries affected by COVID-19, the closure of all schools, universities etc, and restriction of congregation of large numbers of people within Malawi.

We are sorry to have to put this in place. We very much look forward to reopening the centre and hosting volunteers in the future, once the circumstances change.

We wish all our friends and supporters the very best at this trying time. Stay safe!

Community, Donations, Education, Fundraising, Malawi

Donation of exercise books, pens and pencils to primary schools

At the end of the year, previous Nyumba ya Masambiro volunteer Mecki very generously donated funds that allowed the purchase of 300 exercise books, 300 pens and 300 pencils. These were distributed to the primary schools in Ruarwe, Mazomera and Nkhoso.

The NYM Project Coordinator, Ishmael, had a wonderful time distributing the materials and sends his deep gratitude on behalf of NYM and the 3 primary schools for this generous donation. The kids were elated!

While state primary education is free in Malawi, parents must provide the exercise books, writing materials and school uniforms for their children, and those without these items are turned away from school. Sadly, for some, even these small costs are prohibitively expensive so this donation allows many children to remain in school, which is fantastic.
A huge thank you to Mecki for fundraising and providing this fantastic donation! Yewo Chomene!

Community, Malawi, Youth

Senior youth shelter under construction at NYM

We are delighted to announce that Nyumba ya Masambiro is building a shelter for senior youth community members. The government initiative of Youth Friendly Health Services, which uses the youth hall to meet once a week and discuss issues relating to the youth and health, has highlighted that there is nowhere that the senior youth can meet, hang out and socialise away from alcohol in the bars and pubs of the village. Senior youth members have recognised that they need a safe space in which they can socialise independently and they approached NYM to see if such a space can be created.

NYM has board games such as chess, draughts, bawo, cards, dominoes and more. The senior youth will be able to use these and chat in an alcohol-free safe zone. The shelter is being constructed from as much existing material from around the centre to ensure that the building is as sustainable as possible with minimal impact on the environment. We are delighted to be able to offer this space as a solution to this issue, brought to us by the community in Ruarwe.

Community, Donations, Education, Malawi, Volunteers, Youth

A wonderful donation from volunteer Mecki Ballantyne

This summer Nyumba ya Masambiro was joined by volunteer Mecki Ballantyne. Mecki is an experienced teacher who worked with the Ishmael, the Youth Co-ordinator and Frank, the Project Manager to share her skills and expertise for the benefit of the youth in Ruarwe and its catchment area.

Following her return to Germany, Mecki collected together a wonderful donation of almost 40 early-years reading books for the children’s section of the Nyumba ya Masambiro library. The community children love the injection of new reading materials. Most afternoons the children’s corner of the library is filled with children of all ages enjoying the pictures and sounding out the words alone or in small groups. These books are already making a huge difference to the confidence and desire to read, which is such a vital part of educational development.

Thank you so much Mecki for your time spent in Ruarwe and for continuing to think of Ruarwe with this wonderful and generous donation. Yewo Chomene!

Community, Education, Malawi, Volunteers, Youth

The Children’s Area of the Nyumba ya Masambiro library gets a make-over!

Volunteer Kate Probert from New Zealand and volunteer Denise Dolan from Ireland have been really busy and have completed a redecoration of the children’s corner of the library at Nyumba ya Masambiro. Last decorated in 2010 when the centre was built, the new paintings, quotes and comfy seating area have made the library much more appealing to the youth of Ruarwe and we are seeing many more children coming to attend the library, pick up a book and relax in the area.

Thank you to Kate for the vision, Denise for the wonderful quotes and the staff for the translations and all the help provided – the children’s area really looks great now!

Community, Donations, Healthcare, Malawi

Donation of a portable nebuliser to Ruarwe Clinic

In January, Ruarwe Clinic was delighted to receive the wonderful donation of a portable nebulisation unit. Nebulisers can administer saline, adrenaline, salbutamol and more to alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions including asthma, chest infections and more. Respiratory conditions represent a large portion of conditions seen in Ruarwe and the surrounding areas due to a number of factors, a key one being the need to cook over open fires year round resulting in regular exposure to smoke inhalation.

Out-going Zulunkhuni River Lodge managers Anneke and Hartmut, who have contributed so much to this community in their time here, donated the nebuliser unit via Phunzira. We would like to extend a huge thank you to Anneke and Hartmut for this extremely generous donation, which is being used on a regular basis and is making a huge difference to the community in how staff at the centre can now treat respiratory emergencies. Yewo Chomene!

Community, Donations, Fundraising, Healthcare, Malawi

Donation of Maternity Items to Ruarwe Clinic

At the start of this year, Ruarwe Clinic received a wonderful donation of maternity medical items. Donated by Anneke and Hartmut Jagau and Phunzira, the clinic received Maternity Pads, Sterile Cord Clamps, plastic Fetoscopes and Vaginal Speculums as well as Urinalysis Sticks.

Given the remote location of Ruarwe, pregnant mothers are encouraged to go to either the larger clinic in Usisya, Nkhata Bay District Hospital or Mzuzu Central Hospital to deliver. This journey and the stay away from the village, and their families as they are waiting to deliver, can be prohibitively expensive for many expectant mothers. As a result of which, many mothers remain in Ruarwe to deliver. The District Health Team is building a new and improved clinic building in Ruarwe, which will have the space, drugs and equipment to facilitate safer deliveries in the village. The wonderful Community Midwife Technician Helen Msisya from the Ruarwe Zone has been trained and assigned to Ruarwe Health Centre for this purpose. While community members await the completion and opening of this new facility, the staff at the clinic requested these items to facilitate safer deliveries already happening in the village. A huge thank you to the Jagau family and Phunzira donors for making this delivery of essential equipment possible!

Community, Donations, Malawi, Sports, Youth

Donation of Netball Dresses to Nyumba ya Masambiro

We are so grateful to the team at RUMS, the medical school attached to University College London, for their donation of netball dresses to Nyumba ya Masambiro. The dresses were brought out to Malawi and the staff at NYM was delighted to show them off immediately.

The dresses are being stored at Nyumba ya Masambiro but word has been passed around that any local team is welcome to come and borrow them when they have a competitive match in the area. The dresses were used for this purpose by Khomola Village team in a match against Banda Village. Khomola were so thrilled with the use of the dresses that they were spurred on to a 3:2 win against Banda!

We are always keen to promote and encourage female participation in sport and netball is very popular in Malawi, and a sport that women are happy to play. This donation of dresses and their availability for use is already encouraging more matches being scheduled. We are also delighted to see that women’s netball matches in recent months are also starting to draw bigger crowds, more like those often seen at the men’s football matches so we are starting to see a move towards more equality in sport, which is such a fantastic achievement by these community netball teams. RUMS – Thank you so much for your donation of these dresses and their contribution to gender equality in sport in this area in Malawi – Tawonga Chomene!

Community, Donations, Malawi, Volunteers

Introducing NYM’s upgraded kitchen

We are absolutely delighted that the kitchen at Nyumba ya Masambiro has seen a big renovation this year. The kitchen sits up on the rocks behind the Library with views through the trees down to the lake. It is one of the hubs of NYM, serving as the site for meetings, nursery porridge cooking, morning tea drinking, volunteer lunch eating and the perfect spot to cool off during the hot season as it is so well located that it catches any breeze passing through the valley.

Previously an entirely wooden structure, the new kitchen has a more stable concrete floor with an A-frame roof which has been raised up higher to even better catch the breezes, and a nice big socialising table.

We would like to thank Claire who donated the funds for the concrete for the floor and the staff at NYM who did a great job at salvaging so much material from the original kitchen to allow it to be built in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. Yewo Chomene!

Community, Education, Malawi, Volunteers, Youth

Educational Volunteer Marci Koenig

In January, Nyumba ya Masambiro hosted volunteer Marci Koenig for 4 weeks. Marci originally travelled to Ruarwe with her sister Nathalie last year and decided to return this year to volunteer at the education centre. Marci has extensive training and experience with teaching early years education in remote locations in South Africa, where English is not necessarily the first language of the students.

Marci brought her skills and enthusiasm to work alongside the Youth Coordinator in the nursery and youth club as well as running smaller group sessions in the library. Using art and games to facilitate fun learning she really made a great impression on the children she worked with.

Thank you Marci for your joy and passion! Yewo Tawonga!