* As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic all of Phunzira’s programmes in Malawi have been temporarily suspended until further notice. We will not be accepting volunteers at this time.*
We are looking for primary and secondary school teachers in Maths, Science and English as well as innovative people to assist with youth groups, art classes, sports sessions, IT workshops and play groups.
We are looking for doctors, nurses, nutritionists and anyone else who feels they have skills to offer. We welcome health professionals at all levels of training and specialisation who would like to share their knowledge and expertise.
The community centre (Nyumba ya Masambiro – NYM) is designed to be financially self-sufficient so a number of income generating activities have been established over the years. We are looking for individuals skilled in business and finance to work alongside the local staff in order to assist and train them on business practices and philosophies.
We are always building as part of our project. It is important to us to use locally sourced resources and build in tune with the land, climate and community. We embark on a number of construction projects each year and are looking for engineers, carpenters, architects and anyone interested in getting their hands dirty!
Educational Aims and Objectives
- To provide activity-based tuition sessions on selected academic subjects covered at primary and secondary level, as well as access study aids such as learning rooms, computers and a library.
- To act as a support centre whereby local primary and secondary schools can access or borrow spare educational materials belonging to the centre.
- To initiate a forum in which international schools can donate unused school books and laboratory equipment directly towards the educational needs of children in Africa.
- To offer an approachable environment where members of nearby local communities can receive information and advice on basic life skills such as fishing, crop cultivation and AIDS awareness.
Health Aims & Objectives
- To offer appropriate and targeted health education with a focus on communicable diseases (eg. HIV and AIDS, malaria), nutrition, sanitation, maternal health and family planning.
- To develop and implement sustainable projects which will improve the health of rural communities in the area and focus on community empowerment.
- To improve basic primary health care services in the area by assisting with the acquisition of equipment, knowledge and manpower.
- To enable better access to health care services by improving local infrastructure, offering mobile clinics and supporting remote health care providers.
NYM currently has solar/hydro power and some laptops, so we are looking for particularly patient volunteers to help assist the staff and community members with learning basic computer skills. No qualifications are required.
We have a wonderful, kind and patient librarian and we are always looking for people who are happy to assist them with themes and ideas to make the library reach out to more people (e.g. promotions, story-telling, quizzes…).
Volunteers are welcome to provide activity-based tutorials in some of the subjects covered in the Malawian National Curriculum, especially those that have the highest fail rate: English, Mathematics and Science (primary or secondary). The focus should be on group work and collaborative learning, rather than following the standard form of a classroom-based lesson. There are many donated books and materials at NYM from English schools; however resources are still limited so volunteers should have a lively passion for their subject and the ability to be creative with lesson planning techniques! A teaching qualification is not essential but may be helpful.
We are also looking for teachers to assist directly at the schools – you will need either a teacher training qualification or a university degree in the subject you wish to teach, and the minimum commitment is 6 months.
We are looking for volunteers to assist in promoting education and healthy play-time for those attending the youth centre at NYM, as well as help to run the youth-orientated initiatives that stem from it. Art, music and drama are an important part of Malawian culture and with the number of orphans rising we aim to encourage, support and nurture the youth in the community. We have a daily nursery (Monday-Friday) for 2-5 year olds, as well as a junior youth club for under 15’s running three times a week that focuses on games and abstract learning on health, culture and other community development topics. Nyumba ya Masambiro’s youth leader manages both the nursery and junior youth club, helps to organise the senior youth club meetings, oversees any school initiatives such as student sponsorships, and initiates sporadic sports tournaments and educational quizzes whenever possible. If you are experienced in youth leadership and development schemes then we welcome you to work alongside them in order to look at the ‘bigger picture’ of developing the youth department into an environment where young adults can genuinely tackle overcoming their limited economic and social contexts and start to create a positive and healthy impact both individually and within their wider communities.
We have implemented a number of micro businesses in order to keep the free-of-charge educational initiatives at the centre sustainable in the longer term. These include the implementation of a maize mill, the construction of coops for chickens for the sale of their eggs, the sale of nutritious crops from our gardens, rental fees for a portable battery pack scheme, individual charging for phones and laptops, a media room for printing, scanning and photocopying services, and sporadic sales of donated items such as clothes or phones. We are looking for individuals skilled in business/finance to work alongside the staff to train them in general business practices and philosophies, and to optimise the income from these existing businesses.
The construction phase of NYM is now complete and a large part of the labour force consisted of unskilled members of the community from in and around Ruarwe that were trained in rammed earth building techniques. The centre is a simple structure with electricity provided by hydro and solar power. There is a large library, a life skills room, two teaching rooms and a youth centre. NYM has also built two rammed earth laboratories at nearby secondary schools. Future construction projects will include large-scale maintenance of NYM and the laboratories, a playground in the village and volunteer accommodation at Zulunkhuni River lodge. All building projects take place between April and November each year (due to the rainy season) and are dependent on qualified volunteers and Phunzira finances. We are looking for engineers, builders and carpenters who have good communication skills to come and work alongside smaller groups of predominantly unskilled labourers. Those without specific skills that want to get involved in the building process are also most welcome!
NYM is currently split into three departments (Education, Youth & Business). We are looking for help with management training on: Maintaining and analysing day-to-day operating procedures, Monthly reports and progress analysis, Basic accounts (cash flows, balance sheets, income/expenditure analysis), Basic IT assistance with Word and Excel, People management and formulating disciplinary procedures, Sustainable growth and development, Group cohesion and team games. If you are interested you should have relevant qualifications or experience in management or leadership training, and you should be able to commit to a minimum of three months.
Educational workshops are running sporadically through Nyumba Ya Masambiro relating to HIV and AIDS, nutrition, sanitation, first aid etc. These workshops are available for all age groups within the community. There is plenty to get involved with.
HIV and AIDS
HIV is a complex issue with many cultural and socio-economic factors shaping the epidemic. There is currently little forum for discussion and it is seen as a taboo subject to many. Gender inequalities mean that women and children are even more vulnerable in such an environment. Lack of education and understanding only serves to create higher levels of fear and stigmatism, further ostricising people affected by HIV. This, combined with poor access to health services, provides little incentive for people to get tested. Phunzira aims to work alongside local groups in Ruarwe, with the aim to:
» Improve access to treatment and other health services e.g. nutritional support, home based care
» Raise awareness in Ruarwe and surrounding communities
» Run educational sessions suitable for men and women of all age groups
The Health Boat
One of the greatest challenges in Ruarwe is access to secondary heath care. While Ruarwe health centre offers essential basic health care it is limited in terms of available investigations and treatment, and patients will often need to be referred to the district level hospital. The nearest hospital is located 60km south along the lakeshore but due to the lack of infrastructure in the area it is extremely difficult to access.
This exciting health initiative aims to provide a boat that will be dedicated to serving the community’s health needs well into the future.
Ruarwe Health Centre
Ruarwe health centre is a government health facility that had not been operational for several years. During this time villagers have had to travel exceptionally long distances, usually by foot, just to seek basic medical attention. The result was that people were falling sick and, in many cases, dying of otherwise treatable diseases. In April 2011 Phunzira assisted in reopening the health centre but it continued to suffer from staffing problems and could be closed for many months at a time until a more stable solution was implemented in 2017. Despite these ongoing issues Phunzira is very proud to have initiated this link and continues to support it in the following ways:
» Recruiting volunteer health professionals
» Ensuring treatment for common and emergency medical presentations is available
» Conducting research in the local area into community health needs
» Targeting specific and relevant health issues e.g. HIV, malaria
» Raising funds and acquiring donated medical equipment