We have been so lucky to spend nearly four months in our beloved Kunyumba and to spend time again with the children and co-workers after more than a year. And of course it is a joy to see our loyal guard dog Bobbie again. We missed our little Quenchi but admittedly it is a bit more peaceful at Kunyumba without the energetic bouncing toy dog.
After winning the main prize in a French competition combined with several generous contributions we had a considerable budget to develop a beautiful organic garden. With Peter and Innocent we had the two most enthusiastic fellow students for our “permaculture” course in the North of Malawi.
We worked specifically around the design for our Kunyumba garden, with an action plan so we could start right away after our return to Senga Bay. And what a start it was! We have managed to do everything on our plan, a long to- do list, within two months and with success.
The staff and children were more than excited to participate in the development of our plans.
In a few months and with very hard work, we have established our organic garden. The aim is to provide healthy food for the project whilst also educating children and staff about nutrition, water hygiene, sustainable land use and sustainable use of other resources such as water and electricity.
Just before our departure in January we had a beautiful meal made from organic vegetables exclusively from our garden.
Thanks to our friends from the Zikomo project - who make and sell jewellery from recycled bicycle tires and who donate their profit entirely to Kunyumba - we were able to purchase a water filter. This filter will provide Kunyumba with clean drinking water, in ample quantities, for many years. With this and other modifications we have succeeded in almost halving Kunyumba’s electricity bills.
In the programme of our organic garden we also planted a real ‘Kunyumba forest’. With 70 trees that have been specifically selected to suit our land, we hope to raise the water level in the next few years and make our garden an even greener oasis. Every child and every staff member have ‘professionally’ planted a tree and attached a label with their name. They are now responsible for their own tree to water it and care for it and they do with great attention and eagerness.
Furthermore we have built a real happy chicken coop, so we can soon cook our own fresh eggs and use chicken manure for our garden, which will increase our production and make it flourish even more.
We have set up a beautiful mandala garden and planted many useful plants, herbs and lots of fruit trees, such as banana, mango, guava, papaya, orange, lemon, avocado and fig and we benefited from the many passion fruits that fell out of our very high tree which kindly hosts this climber. Our persevering and devoted Sem even achieved to set up a little business vending the passion fruit, to me - his only customer J.
Although we were very busy with the garden, we welcomed many friends and visitors in Kunyumba. It is always a joy to proudly present our work and the fantastic team of Kunyumba. People’s reactions are unanimous: Kunyumba is a little piece of heaven. The infectious smiles of the children add to the experience. I would like to thank all our visitors: Georg and Elva, Christophe and Malika, Veerle and Vicky, Charlie and Imogen and Florence for their visit, but also for their energy and generosity. Most of you came with luggage full of clothes and shoes for the children and staff; toys, medicines, books, sheets, towels, kitchen utensils, seeds for our garden and more useful things for the project. Most of the visitors left with almost nothing, even left their suitcase behind so someone else could make good use of it. I would like to say a big ZIKOMO KWAMBIRI to all of you.
Kunyumba itself is doing well, the project is rolling and the children grow and advance… it is moving. Seeing Ruthie self-confidently walk anywhere she wants and the happiness this brings to her will make me forever proud.
We welcomed three new children in Kunyumba, our 12- year old Ulita and the beautiful babies Imulani and Evance. As usual soon we could see how well they feel and how much they improve physically as well as mentally from being in this supportive setting; it is the proof that what we do is good. Kunyumba does make a difference, although on a small scale, on a personal level we make a life-altering difference.
I will never forget the day that Peter and I took Evance, a tiny 4 month old baby, to the Central Hospital in Salima. The little boy was severely malnourished and dehydrated. Evance’s little body was floppy, his eyes were rolling and his shrivelled dry skin looked like wrinkled paper. When he fell unconscious during this trip, Peter and I looked at each other in the car, thinking we wouldn’t make it, we would be too late. But we did make it, just in time I guess. With thorough medical care soon Evance recovered and now he is a fine, chunky baby, surrounded by good care and a lot of love.
Christmas was a special, busy time. We were up and down to the hospital to visit Evance and also with Matthias, who was so ill with malaria. We did what you would do with a child in Europe, we spoiled him with juice, biscuits, fruit, a lot of quiet sleep and cartoon movies for several days, because that is what you really need for recovery when you are a nine year old boy isn’t it?
Frédéric and I had the incredible pleasure of meeting June Walker, who is the permaculture queen of Malawi, she welcomed us in her home and we welcomed her in our heart. We learnt more about permaculture from her and about life in Malawi as she has lived here for more than 50 years. Through June we met many more interesting people. We now have a network of likeminded people who see opportunities with permaculture and who want to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people in Malawi.
Frédéric and I are now looking forward to our new exciting plans.
(‘stay well’ in Chichewa)
Maaike & Frédéric