Dear Kudimba friends, Finally, winter has passed and it’s spring in Europe, which also means the end of the rainy season in Malawi. It has been a particularly long and very wet rainy season this year, with a dramatic end as you might have seen in the news. The cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the South of Malawi destroyed many people’s lives and livelihoods. Even at this moment, as the water from the flooding is slowly receding, people are still trying to come to terms with what happened and trying to assess the damage and the number of victims. More than 3 million people have been affected by this catastrophe and as usual, the poorest suffered the most. We are very lucky that the Salima region was spared, so Kudimba didn’t suffer any damage or loss. However, one of the benefits of all this rain is that it has generously watered our rice plantation; though we feared for a moment that our young rice plants were going to drown! Due to the hard work of Cornelio, Mr. Gombachika and Mercy, who tirelessly dug drainage canals (which kept washing away after every rain episode), our crop was saved. Works for the new roof for the education building also had to be halted until the heavy rains stopped and even then the truck with the building materials for the roof got stuck in the mud in the North of Malawi. But now the rains have stopped … and everything is picking up. Finally, finally there is progress again on our roof development, and it’s looking good. We hope to finish the roof soon and open the education building officially (we’ve got our red ribbon ready). In the meanwhile we have constructed a laundry area. We’ve designed it so that it is environmental friendly. The waste water (grey water) from the laundry will be recycled for the garden, we are planning to plant lots of banana trees, which need a plentiful water supply, and we look forward to enjoying the harvest.
            The laundry area
We have also built a little open air kitchen area for the Kudimba staff. In this kitchen we have installed a ‘mbaula’ stove, which is a typical cooking stove for Malawi. The interesting fact about the mbaula is that it is very sustainable as it uses much less firewood (or other sources of energy) than other cooking methods, a great advantage for an area which suffers from deforestation. So we can only celebrate the mbaula and adopt its use.
              The open air kitchen area for the Kudimba staff
Our short term future plans are to finish the education building and to improve our existing bathroom. We want to build a second watertower and water tank, which will provide the education centre with the water which we pump up from our own borehole with our solar pump, and a second septic tank for the waste water (black water). Malawi is quite close to the equator so night falls quite early, all year round. As we need some lighting for the project, we are going to trial gravity lights. If they work well, we will buy some more. The idea is in keeping with the sustainable vision of our project; gravity lights produce their own energy using gravity and are simple to use. Furthermore, we aim to improve the irrigation system of the garden. This will enable it to survive the drought which comes after the heavy rains; the ever-challenging climate of Malawi! One of our exciting developments is that we have provided an opportunity for some of our Malawian graduates to come up with a proposal, either for an income generating activity or an activity which may empower the vulnerable in the community. We believe that these grassroot initiatives could have great potential and we hope to update you with a success story about this in our next newsletter. In May another container is leaving from the UK, going to Salima, we have already reserved our space. Kudimba’s George, Ruthie and Judy have worked behind the scene all year round to collect and store second hand items such as sewing machines, hospital equipment, laptops, phones; which will have a new life in Malawi. Thank you very much for your support, your donations and your encouragement, Kudimba is going strong and we could not achieve all of this without you. Bye for now, The Kudimba Team Kudimba’s Judy arrived in Lifuwu in October to organise more of the project’s development, she did an excellent job and worked together well with the local Kudimba team: Max, Cornelio, Mr. Gombachika, Mercy and the building contractors In the meanwhile Judy is known in the village as ‘agogo’, she started off explaining that her name is Judy but it all gets a bit complicated because that’s a hard word to say for a Malawian. She decided instead to say ‘my name is agogo’ which is Chichewa for grandma. The kids fall about laughing when she says it but they do seem to recognise agogo now. So what has happened in the last few months: We managed to buy buffalo bikes for all our staff members, as well as for our student James.
Buffalo bikes and their happy owners
The buffalo bike is a very strong, durable and reliable bicycle specially designed for people like him, who live in rural areas of developing countries. The buffalo bicycle is deliberately compatible with locally available spare parts, requiring only basic tools for maintenance and repair. Now they can get to and from work and school more easily, safer and quicker. They were all over the moon as you could see in the picture previously. Our staff member Mercy has now fully embraced her new role, she helps out with the garden and looks after visitors, both which she does with a lot of dedication and care. Kudimba was lucky enough to have a visit from a Malawian permaculture expert who organised a two day course for the staff, to design and plan the development of our garden. We now know better how to deal with excess rainwater and how to protect our garden. In the meanwhile we have developed the garden further, planted many more trees and developed a rice plantation ready for this year’s rainy season.
The rice field of Kudimba Foundation
We were eagerly anticipating these rains until… We made a lot of progress on our large education building, so far that the thatch roof was nearly finished, but then a construction problem combined with heavy rains damaged our roof and set us back.
Educational centre
We decided not to dwell on things, not to waste any time and to start all over again with the construction of the roof, this time we’ll do it better and stronger. This means that financially as well as time wise we are set back, but this is the way things go in general in Malawi and we have to accept this as a part of the development. Each time we learn a valuable lesson and we focus on the positive: at least it happened now before the construction was finalised and luckily the building itself did not get damaged.
It is important to mention, Kudimba Foundation can build this education centre thanks to the support of the Provincial Government of West-Flanders, Belgium. Next on the agenda is the improvement of the kitchen area for the staff and the development of a covered laundry area where the water will be recycled for our garden. Once the education building is finished we also plan to improve the wall and gate around Kudimba. We plan to develop further our system to generate our daily energy needs from sustainable sources, such as solar electricity and warm water from a solar heater, to allow us to be more independent. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all our Kudimba friends. Thank you for your loyal support

The Kudimba team