Community, Donations, Fundraising, Malawi

Donation appeal during coronavirus crisis

While we’ve had to pause Phunzira and Nyumba ya Masambiro’s usual activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, hardships within the community continue. We have made it our mission to support the wider community in Ruarwe, that said, we have had to shift our focus. We have been informed by a healthcare professional that all the soap available in the village has been bought up. We all know that washing your hands with soap is absolutely key in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, we want to source funds to purchase soap in Nkhata Bay and transport it to Ruarwe for distribution within the larger community. We will arrange distribution with elderly and vulnerable citizens in mind and manage it as fairly as possible.

Any additional funds raised will be used for ongoing COVID-19 response activities and ongoing wider needs within the community.

Please head to our Donate Page to help us support the community.

Thank you for your generosity at this difficult time, when everyone is having to tighten their belts globally. Yewo Chomene!

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, Fundraising, Malawi

The new maize mill engine arrives in Ruarwe!

On Sunday 24th November, there was a palpable buzz of excitement throughout Ruarwe as this was the day that the new Maize Mill engine, funded through a grant received from Africa Direct, arrived in Ruarwe village. The engine was purchased in Lilongwe by Frank Msuku (Project Manager at NYM) and Castaway Nyirenda (Bursar at NYM). A recommended mechanic, with extensive experience planting and maintaining such engines, accompanied them from Lilongwe to ensure correct and safe handling of the machine along the journey. The passage took them from Lilongwe via Mzuzu to Nkhata Bay by road and then on to Ruarwe via the Ilala Ferry.

On arrival in Ruarwe, there is no jetty to allow easy offloading of this very heavy piece of engineering and so the mechanical crane on the ferry had to be used to load the engine onto the service boat and then a group of strong village volunteers lifted the engine onto the beach. It was nerve-racking and thrilling to watch everyone come together to get the engine safely to its new home in the milling house! We’re so pleased that the mill is up and running! Thank you to everyone who helped on the journey.

Community, Fundraising, Malawi

Incredible grant received from Africa Direct

In September, Nyumba ya Masambiro was delighted to receive a grant of 2.4 million Kwacha (2.9k Euro) from Africa Direct. Phunzira applied for this grant on behalf of NYM, for the relaunch of the Maize Mill Project. The Maize Mill project was requested by the community to alleviate some of the food insecurity experienced as a result of not have easy access to a mill. The grant proposal, prepared by Philippa Mander and Rosa Nissim, was submitted in July and approved later that month.

Africa Direct is a charitable organisation registered in Ireland. From their website:

“We are an Irish Cork-based charity fundraising to support projects for people living in poverty in Africa. We are run by a membership of volunteers open to anyone to bring their own skills, ideas and backgrounds, and we are a fully voluntary organisation committed to getting the maximum funds raised ‘direct’ to our partner’s projects.”
“Africa Direct’s mission is to alleviate poverty in Africa. Our approach is to work with Africans to tackle poverty in their own home areas. We do this through supporting, funding and listening to our African partners.”

We would like to extend out thanks to the wonderful team at Africa Direct for this incredible grant – it really will make such a huge difference to the whole community within the Ruarwe Zone. Tawonga 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!

Donations, Fundraising, Healthcare, Malawi

Donation of Medical Supplies to Ruarwe and Khondowe Clinics

This month has seen the donation of some vitally important drugs and equipment to the Clinic in Ruarwe, and shared with Khondowe. Following a number of months of national drug shortages, Ruarwe Clinic was running critically low of, among other things, Paracetamol and certain antibiotics. The situation had become so acute that the Medical Assistant Paul Kabuzi was having to make impossible decisions in giving paracetamol only to children under a year of age, despite the very high risk of febrile convulsions (seizures) in children with high temperatures up to the age of 5 years.

Repeat visitors to the lodge from Zomba heard of this plight and instigated a fundraiser in their home country, Holland. With the funds raised, they were able to buy a plentiful supply of Paracetamol, Clindamycin, Ciprofloxacin and Quinine tablets (which are essential in the treatment of malaria in the first trimester of pregnancy). The drugs were purchased in Zomba and shipped up to Ruarwe where they were very gratefully received.

In addition to these drugs, the clinic also received a supply of gauze, dressings and bandages to bulk up those already held by the clinic. Treatment of wounds is the fourth most common reason for patients’ attendance at the clinic so these supplies will soon be used for the treatment of these. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who donated and to Annelies and Jeroen of Zomba who arranged the fundraising, purchase and donation of the drugs and Hartmut and Anneke of Ruarwe who arranged for the donation of the wound care supplies – both of these will really make a huge difference to the community of Ruarwe and all those attending the clinic for treatment.

Community, Fundraising, Malawi

Gardening grand plans at NYM

Recent months has seen a real push in crop management at the Nyumba ya Masambiro gardens. James Nyirenda has been the gardener at NYM for a couple of years now and he works incredibly hard to make his vision for the garden a reality. Under his watchful eye the sugar cane crops have flourished bringing in small but steady income to the centre.

Once a week all the staff at NYM down their tools to work together in the gardens, planting cocoa yams at the end of the year was the big target and two large garden areas were weeded, turned over, watered and planted with cocoa yam seedling stems. These are being tended under the watchful eye of James to be ready after the rains for harvesting and selling to community members. Selling crops from the gardens is one of the micro businesses run at NYM, the income of which ensures that community members can continue to benefit from the education services being offered completely for free.

James has grand plans for the gardens for 2019 including planting many varieties of sweet potatoes, replanting some papaya tree seedlings as our papaya trees are now too old to fruit successfully and expand both the sugar cane and cocoa yam crop areas. Watch this space for more news on how the gardens develop!

Donations, Fundraising

Donate to Phunzira as you shop

For all those that shop on Amazon: If you use Amazon Smile then Phunzira will receive a small donation each time you make a purchase AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU!

Click on the link below to support us each time you buy:

Then, to make sure you make a donation with every eligible purchase please always ensure that you have “smile.” before your web address so that you are accessing or

Every little addition makes such a great difference to the communities in Northern Malawi so be sure to pass this link on to friends and select Phunzira as your preferred charity. Thank you!

Fundraising, Malawi

Maize mill income generation project

We are raising funds for a maize mill income generation project in Ruarwe, to be run and managed by Nyumba ya Masambiro. The initiative will provide a vital service for villagers, who rely heavily on maize as a primary staple and currently have to walk nearly six hours to the nearest operational mill. The income generating activity will be fully owned and managed by NYM and will be used as a means of ensuring its long-term financial sustainability.

All funds raised will go directly towards funding this initiative. We have zero administration costs. For full details of the project proposal (including budget) click here,  or to make a contribution please click here.


Fundraising, Malawi

Raising funds for Ruarwe Ambulance Boat

The Ruarwe Ambulance Boat, built by Phunzira in 2013/14 and donated to the Ministry of Health in Malawi in 2015, has unfortunately been off the waters for the last 8 months. The boat was originally constructed in order to facilitate patient referrals from the clinics in Ruarwe and Khondowe to nearby Usisya, as well as to assist with patient emergencies.

Since the boat handover ceremony in May 2015, the Ministry of Health has supplied all necessary provisions for the boat to run at least once a week to Usisya and back; this has proved to be an invaluable asset for people living in such a remote part of the country.

However the boat has sadly stopped running in recent months: the hope is that the increased annual health budget proposed in Malawi this year will help to get the boat back on track again, but in the meantime ex-volunteer Leah Desmond is working hard to raise funds for this worthy cause.

Many thanks to Leah for her continued support for so many of our health projects – from coming to join us as a voluntary doctor, to raising money to build a shelter at the nearby clinic, to helping get the ambulance boat get back on the water… Tawonga! To make a donation to any health projects please click here: Donate Now