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Malawi, Volunteers, Youth

Party to celebrate the newly decorated Youth Hall

Following from the hard work and vision of volunteer Cara Marsh we were delighted to host a party at Nyumba ya Masambiro to celebrate the completion and opening of the newly decorated Youth Hall. The party was attended by the trustees of NYM, the staff of NYM, volunteers Cara and Rose, some guests from Zulunkhuni River Lodge and of course the youth club and nursery students and community members.

The party was a huge success of speeches, singing, dancing, games, glow sticks, bubbles and balloons. Everyone is absolutely delighted with the newly decorated Youth Hall and it is enjoyed daily for so many activities making use of the bright colourful walls and educational murals. We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone whose hard work was poured into this renovation to make it such a huge success. Yewo Chomene!

Community, Malawi

NYM End-of-year Trustee Meeting

The beginning of December saw a Nyumba ya Masambiro Trustee Meeting held in Khomola Village where NYM Chair Trustee VH Jolote lives with his family. Secretary Trustee Flarey Singini and Phunzira Secretary Trustee Philippa Mander on behalf of NYM Trust Member Rosa Nissim hiked the one hour journey up into the Rurawe zone mountains to Khomola Village. Following a delicious breakfast the trustees met for almost 3 hours discussing the achievements of 2018 and any issues encountered, as well as plans for 2019. In 2018 NYM and the Ruarwe clinic were able to host 10 international volunteers, which has been of huge benefit to both the community members and the volunteers themselves.

We would like to thank all our donors for their generosity, which allows Phunzira and NYM to continue to run all its community projects. We would like to thank the many volunteers for sharing their expertise and energy with the NYM staff, the clinic and all the community members who benefit from these projects, and we invite you all to continue with us in our journey into 2019 as we continue with all our work and projects.

Community, Donations, Education, Malawi, Nursery, Volunteers, Youth

Volunteer Rose Benbow’s time in Ruarwe

In November volunteer Rose Benbow came to volunteer at Nyumba ya Masambiro with the Nursery and Youth Club. Rose came with an incredible donation of resources for so many of NYMs projects. This included over 20 books for the library including Mr. Men and Little Miss books, Horrid Henry books, the complete works of Shakespeare abbreviated for early years readers and so much more. In addition to that Rose donated pens, pencils, erasers and notebooks for the Youth Cupboard, as well as toothbrushes and face flannels for the Nursery school students.

Rose also go involved with the repainting of the Youth Hall, and then with some teaching sessions with Youth Club once the redecoration of the hall was completed. Yewo Chomene Rose for your incredibly generous donation and your time spent with the Youth Club!

Donations, Education, Malawi, Nursery, Volunteers, Youth

The redecoration of the Youth Hall at NYM

October and November saw great changes for our Youth Hall at Nyumba ya Masambiro. Returning volunteer Cara Marsh had a great vision for the redecoration of the Youth Hall walls supported by a generous donation from NYM visitor Sabina Trojanova. The walls had originally been painted with some small images when the hall was constructed in 2010. These small murals had become faded over time and Cara had a vision of using new images that would allow for interactive teaching for the nursery and youth club.

After the initial whitewashing of all the walls, the plan was mapped out and painting took 5 weeks in total. Cara enthusiastically encouraged guests from nearby Zulunkhuni River Lodge to come and join in as well as staff from NYM, children in the Youth Club and community members passing through. It really was a whole community activity and the nursery and youth club members really benefit from these murals every day, both as they are so bright and cheery and also from an interactive learning point of view. Cara – we thank you and all your volunteers for your vision and wonderful energy throughout this project – you have given the Youth Hall a new lease of life!

Education, Nursery, Testimonial, Volunteers, Youth

Volunteer Testimonial – Sanne Westera

Volunteer Sanne joined Phunzira in Ruarwe in June. She got involved with many youth projects during her time in the village including youth club sessions, nursery school and she also organised an educational quiz for members of the youth club with pens, pencils, notebooks and maths books given out as prizes. Below is a testimonial from her time volunteering with Phunzira.

“I really enjoyed my stay in Ruarwe, the community is very welcoming and the kids are so eager to learn and fun to play with. I wish I could have been more involved in the clinic but, as I’m now studying medicine, I might be able to come back to Ruarwe for an internship in the future! I would like to thank Phunzira, NYM, the community and Zulunkhuni river lodge for making my stay a memorable one and I’m hoping to be back very soon.  [It] would have been more enjoyable if my travel plans had allowed me to stay longer!”

Thank you Sanne for your time and we very much look forward to welcoming you back!

Healthcare, Malawi, Testimonial, Volunteers

Volunteer Testimonial – Ana Estevao

Ruarwe Health Centre was very lucky to host volunteer Ana Estevao for 6 weeks in September and October. Ana is a qualified nurse from Portugal who has been recently working in the NHS in the UK. Ana said of her time in Ruarwe;

“halfway through this adventure, it is amazing to see how with so little resources, staff and equipment, everyone that goes there gets the best treatment possible. Also the effort to make a better and healthier community each day is remarkable. Malawi is one of the countries most affected by malaria, so most of our patients are tested and treated for that but also we get a few emergencies. I’ve been able to see a few deep injuries and treat them, as also I’m improving my paediatric skills by looking after sick babies and providing them treatment.

As for myself, I’m more than grateful for being here and to be part of this community, even for so little time.”

Both staff, community members and volunteers really benefit from the volunteers’ time in Ruarwe – for moral support in the clinic, for information sharing and learning, and because volunteers are always really made to feel so welcome by the community.

Medicine and nursing in Ruarwe is very different from in big teaching hospitals in the West and so we find that to volunteers coming with a sense of openness and adventure really do get so much out of being here. Ana, thank you so much for your wonderful contribution of time and expertise to the community! Yewo Chomene!

Community, Education, Malawi, Sports, Volunteers, Youth

Volunteers join Phunzira from France

We were lucky enough to host three volunteers from France for a period of one month. Leo Berger, Aurelien Lluis and Kartik Sharma arrived in Ruarwe towards the end of May and immediately got stuck in with a great number of activities at the education centre Nyumba ya Masambiro. During their time with Phunzira they rebuilt the bridge across the stream into the NYM land after it had been washed away by the rains, they completed a data analysis plan for the maize mill, they got involved with tutorials and youth club sessions, they rewrote the guide to NYM which is available in the library for any visitors to read, they got involved with community activities such as football games at the village football field at the top of the hill and in their spare time they walked down to Usisya and back to get to see a bit of the surrounding area!

The staff at the education centre was delighted with their energy, joy and enthusiasm and it was wonderful to see how much could be achieved in such a short space of time. Thank you to all three for their hard work during their time in Ruarwe!

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:

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1136460-0

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 smile.amazon.co.uk or smile.amazon.com.

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!

Community, Education, Malawi, Op ed Article

Nyumba Ya Masambiro – From Concept to Handover – by Philippa Mander

Philippa is Secretary of the Trust at Phunzira, a charity that has set up and supports a community education centre in rural northern Malawi, and that also supports two government health clinics in the area. She has worked for the charity since 2013. Nyumba ya Masambiro is this community education centre. Nyumba ya Masambiro means “House of Learning” or “House of Education” in Chitumbuka, the local language.

In 2007 Rosa Nissim left the UK to teach mathematics for one academic year at a private school in the town of Nkhata Bay, Northern Malawi. At the end of her volunteering placement she travelled further north, by boat, to the remote village of Ruarwe. Ruarwe does not have access to utilities such as electricity and running water, nor conveniences such as a market, supermarkets or banks, and there are no roads leading to the village. Access is only by boat along the shore of Lake Malawi and on foot via the small paths through the hills along the lakeshore. There is limited telephone reception, only available from the top of a steep hill on the outskirts of the village where a line of sight is made to the telephone masts in Usisya, 20km south of the village. In this remote community, an eco hostel (Zulunkhuni River Lodge) is a quiet sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Nkhata Bay life.

The community in Ruarwe survives from fishing and subsistence farming, with minimal outside support for community development. During her stay in the village, Rosa was introduced to the Village Headman at the time, Palombe Mjeremani. Now deceased and having passed his role to his son Robson, Palombe chatted with Rosa about her teaching experience in Nkhata Bay. Palombe believed that access to knowledge and education was key to both community development and residents’ ability to improve their prospects. They discussed ways to provide further educational opportunities to the impoverished community and Palombe asked if Rosa would be willing to set up an education centre to provide support to school students as well as opportunities for other community members beyond school age. He offered a plot of land just outside the village, opposite the primary school, for such a purpose and at the end of 2008 after completing her two month stay in Ruarwe village, Rosa returned to the UK to look into this proposal.

In 2009, Rosa spent the year in the UK. She set up the charity Phunzira, meaning ‘education’ in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi, and set about fundraising. She then returned to Ruarwe in 2010 to start building. Using a rammed earth style of building and employing local staff to build, six buildings were constructed. Having gone through some changes in purpose over the last seven years, these buildings now house the following: a youth centre; a library; a computer room; an IGA room; an office; and a store room. Solar power was first installed 2011 and is now complemented by a pico-hydro turbine, installed in 2013. The rammed earth style of building was chosen as it uses resources widely available in the surrounding environment such as mud, stones and sand. As a result, costs were kept to a minimum for items such as cement etc, large scale maintenance is only needed infrequently and, additionally, the rooms are cooler in the hot season and warmer in the cool season.

Phunzira was very fortunate to receive donations of books primarily from two London-based secondary schools, allowing the library to benefit from a wide range of novels, reference texts, encyclopaedias and curriculum textbooks. We also received donations of paints, pens, paper, toys, and more for youth activities.

Nyumba ya Masambiro is now able to offer the following services to the catchment community: a junior youth club three times a week focussing on education, creativity and sports; access to a well stocked library with a borrowing system in place as well as access to newspapers which can be read on site; tutorials run in academic subjects such as maths, English and science; and IT lessons. All these services are offered completely free of charge. In addition to these services Nyumba ya Masambiro also runs a nursery school during term time for preschool children for a nominal charge. Nursery students receive teaching in basic maths and English and receive a sweetened maize porridge breakfast daily.

As well as these ongoing projects, Nyumba ya Masambiro has been involved in supporting larger-scale, one-off projects within the catchment area, including: construction of two science laboratories at the local secondary schools; the building and donation of an ambulance boat to the government for the transfer of critically ill patients from Ruarwe and Khondowe clinics; the training of a local community member as a Medical Assistant (equivalent to a doctor) for Ruarwe clinic; and the maintenance of the school office block at a primary school.

In order to fund the free of charge, ongoing community services, Nyumba ya Masambiro runs some micro businesses (IGA’s). These include: a solar charged battery box rental scheme; phone charging from the solar and pico-hydro systems on site; the provision of typing, printing, scanning and photocopying facilities (particularly to local schools during exam season); the sale of eggs; the sale of some garden produce such as sugar cane, bananas and papayas; and a profit-sharing scheme with a local community member to run football screenings using a TV satellite system. The aim is for NYM to become fully financially self-sustainable and no longer be reliant on Phunzira’s financial support; the staff is making great inroads in achieving this aim.

Nyumba ya Masambiro is staffed exclusively by local Malawians who have been trained by Rosa and a variety of volunteers over the years. The staff consists of four members of Management: a project manager; a bursar (who is also the librarian); a project coordinator; and a business coordinator. There are four additional members of staff: a project/business assistant, a cook/cleaner and two night watchmen. Nyumba ya Masambiro does not necessarily expect staff to be fully qualified before they start their job; training sessions on group cohesion and personal development are part of the ethos of the centre. This gives local community members the opportunity to not only earn a salary but also to develop skills as an individual.

When Nyumba ya Masambiro was founded it was fully reliant on Phunzira for funding for projects, maintenance of the educational centre and staff salaries. It was the intention from the very beginning that the centre would become financially self-sustainable and that the community would take over the running of the centre, through the staff, local trustees and an executive committee, in order to take ownership of their own development projects. As a result, all facets of management have been slowly handed over to the staff over the years as they have been trained up. In April 2016, a huge and colourful ceremony was held alongside the Annual General Meeting at which the centre was officially handed over to the local community. All legal ties between Phunzira and Nyumba ya Masambiro were separated and since this time the day-to-day running of the education centre has been in the hands of the staff alone, with occasional assistance offered by Phunzira staff as required.

It has been wonderful to witness the personal development of the individual staff members, the unity of the staff as a team, and the support from community members for the centre as a whole. While financial sustainability has not yet been achieved in full for salaries, we remain hopeful that this will be accomplished in the near future. If you are interested in supporting Phunzira financially, please visit Donate or if you are interested in volunteering for any of the ongoing projects please find further information on our Volunteers Pages.

 

 

Donations, Healthcare, Malawi, Volunteers

Donation of supplies for the Ruarwe Health Centre

The Ruarwe health centre has received a wonderful donation of much needed medical supplies. Volunteers Kartik, Leo and Aurelien have brought with them a box of fifty pregnancy tests and a new battery operated sphygmomanometer (blood pressure meter). These will help with vital diagnostics and blood pressure management for the communities served by the clinic.

The realities of rural healthcare are that often even the most basic supplies are lacking and a government strapped for cash is not able to supply such items to rural health facilities. While it is important that Phunzira does not take over the role of the government in providing supplies for the clinic, it is a delight when one-off donations such as this can make a real difference on the ground in diagnostics and treatment. With such a large part of the population visiting the clinic being women of child-bearing age pregnancy tests are vital in quickly establishing whether a patient is expectant and therefore being able to provide antenatal care. We are also seeing a rapid increase in hypertension within the community, and so the sphygmomanometer will allow for easier management of this condition at hypertension assessments.

Thank you so much for the kind donation!

Medical Supplies Ruarwe