Dear Kudimba friends,

For the third time since the start of the Kudimba project we have to start our newsletter with sad news. 

On the night of 12th September our beloved Hawa passed away in her family home. Hawa’s funeral took place the next day, as is customary in Malawi.  

Hawa was the 8th of 10 children in a family struggling to make ends meet.  Caring for a child with complex special needs was an insurmountable challenge for Hawa’s mother and father. 

We estimate that Hawa was around 18 years old, although her date of birth has never been confirmed. What we do know is that Hawa was compromised at birth and as a result she was very limited.  Hawa was dependent on others for every aspect of her life, she was non-verbal, immobile and had severe muscle contractions as well as epilepsy. Hawa could not sit up and had difficulty swallowing, so nutrition was also a challenge.

Hawa joined our day care centre three years ago and her situation was already very complicated, almost impossible. However, every effort was made: Hawa was picked up in the morning and brought back at the end of the day by a Kudimba staff member with a bicycle and a specially designed trolley to transport her frail body.  Hawa had her own designated, comfortable place in the education centre of the project and Kudimba’s children and staff would often do their activities in her vicinity, so that she could watch, enjoy and interact with her limited possibilities. 

Hawa had not attended Kudimba for some time. Her physical situation was so complex that moving her twice a day had become a precarious undertaking. There was also a conflict between what Hawa’s parents thought was best for her and what the Kudimba staff could offer Hawa during the day. At first we tried to offer outreach help, but this soon became difficult too. In the end, we reassured the parents that Hawa would always be welcome at Kudimba and that help would be available if there was a problem with Hawa at home. Unfortunately, we were unable to make a difference for her. 

We are relieved that Hawa is now at peace, that she can rest and that her suffering is over. 

We will remember her incredible ability to enjoy the little that she could. She loved being at Kudimba and enjoyed seeing the other children playing and having fun, they interacted with her in a touching way, especially our little rascal Mphatso who showed her nothing but love and affection.  

We have included a link to a short film in this newsletter. Some of the staff and children at Kudimba are dancing while Hawa is watching and admiring. The song was made by the students of the International School in Brussels and everyone at Kudimba knew the words and sang along word for word.

Hawa Some of the staff and children at Kudimba are dancing while Hawa is watching and admiring

Hawa’s life has been cherished and her presence has left a mark on Kudimba. We will remember her and plant a beautiful strong tree for her. She will always be a part of Kudimba, together with Shamima and Alima.

We currently have 57 children enrolled at Kudimba and have decided to temporarily stop accepting new children until our new kitchen block is ready. After all, everyone deserves a place at the table at Kudimba and right now, all our tables are literally full. The foundations of the entire kitchen block are ready and the production of the interlocking bricks is in process. As the weather has no further influence on the building process, we hope that the construction will now move on in leaps and bounds. We estimate that the new kitchen will be completely ready by March 2024 and operational by July 2024. Until then, new applicants for the daycare centre will be placed on a waiting list. We will be able to increase the capacity of Kudimba and welcome many more participants once the kitchen block is up and running.

Aleyah on the trampoline – Click to enlarge picture.
Kuwala Project – Click to enlarge picture.

We are preparing for another very exciting event at Kudimba: ‘Kuwala’ will be a circus project taking place at Kudimba in July 2024. 

Kuwala means ‘to shine’ in Chichewa, the local language of Malawi. The aim is to give our young people with special needs the opportunity to shine and excel through the playful development of motor skills and balancing exercises in the context of circus activities. 

Circolito is a circus school from Mechelen in Belgium. A delegation of circus teachers and assistants from Circolito will travel from Belgium to Lifuwu in Malawi to work with the Kudimba children and teenagers. With a bursary from ‘Chiro for All’ we have managed to acquire circus equipment, which has already arrived on site. 

The Circolito team is raising money for their trip to Malawi. They are selling Malawian tea and coffee and even a specially brewed Circolito beer with a Malawian twist. On 18 and 19 November the school is organising a 24-hour circus fundraiser. Check out the Circolito Facebook page for more information.

We can finally also reveal our other and bigger plans for the future of Kudimba. We are looking to expand our services considerably with the development of a small community farm, social employment and sheltered housing project near our original project site. The new project will provide employment and independent living opportunities for young adults with special needs from the Lifuwu community, mainly the older participants of the Kudimba project.

There will be plenty more updates on this important new development for our project in the newsletters to come.

As a first step in the direction of this new project, we have set up a small technical team for and with the older participants of Kudimba. Led by Johny and Robert, the crew is responsible for garden maintenance and small technical tasks in and around the project. For example, they are responsible for maintaining the chicken coop.

It’s fantastic to see them working together. The team works really well despite all their individual special needs. They compensate for each other and help each other out when needed. We are very proud of them.

Kudimba is thriving and going from strength to strength. This would not be possible without the help of our loyal sponsors, to whom we would like to express our profound gratitude.

If you would like to support the day to day running of Kudimba, the completion of the kitchen block, the circus project or our future expansion project, please do not hesitate to contact us. Every little bit helps and your contribution will be greatly appreciated.

For our Belgian sponsors, remember that a tax certificate can be provided if you donate through vzw Kontinenten, please contact us if you need more information.  

All the best from the Kudimba team