Newsletter July 2010
Muli bwanji? Ndili bwino - kaya inu? Bwino, Zikomo. How are you? I'm fine, and how are you? Well thank you! These are the obligatory words to begin every conversation in Malawi. In turn this has helped me to rapidly establish contact with the locals.
To begin with I would like to introduce myself: My name is Ute Reichl and I am 48 years old.  On joining Kunyumba e. V. in July I spent several weeks supporting this unique project in Senga Bay. Winter, Malawi’s dry season shows the country at it’s friendliest. The sun is shining, the wind is always refreshing and Kunyumba has stabilised.  Maaike will remain for another three weeks and then leave for the UK permanently. Peter, our new leader will manage the day-to-day activities of Kunyumba.  We are confident he will succeed.
For several months the team has now been working together with Peter leading as the project manager. His thoughtfulness was particularly noted in this regard. Last week Peter moved into the Kunyumba staff house, which was renovated and extended to accommodate Peter and his family (picture 1). Sem (picture 2), one of our Kunyumba children, lives with them in their neatly furnished home. This is the first time Sem in his young life has experienced a sense of family. His face now exudes sheer happiness and pride.  It is hoped that the current "team" will continue working together for some time yet.  Something not commonly found in Malawi. Decisions in personnel policy are now starting to pay off. The staff complements each other perfectly and everyone fits in and is able to make valuable contributions to the project according to their skills. Regular team meetings reinforce the stability of the current staff at Kunyumba. In the beginning it was difficult for them to express themselves. They were hesitant in expressing their concerns, but now it’s good to see how everyone, coming from a different cultural backgrounds are moving towards our common goal; ‘To present Kunyumba`s children a piece of carefree childhood and appropriate advancement.’ And whilst I write these sentences, I hear happy children’s voices, saying "Zikomo" (= thank you!) through an open window. That is why I would like to focus on Kunyumba´s team and it’s "new" children in this newsletter.
Peter (picture 3) as mentioned from August is the project leader of Kunyumba Trust and therefore responsible for the ‘structural framework’ and financial housekeeping in line with given budgets. Peter is also an excellent gardener and the children love to help him with his gardening. The children love him dearly and call him "uncle”, uncolo in Chichewa. For them he embodies a ‘father figure’, he is very clear and precise in his instructions. Although playfulness in Malawi does not come naturally to men here, he will rant and rave with the children without losing his authority.
Kingless (picture 4) our first nanny is a calming influence in the lively Kunyumba routine. She tenderly ensures that the children’s hygiene is maintained. They all love to be bathed and oiled afterwards. Two months ago she adopted Mpathso meaning ‘gift’.  He is 2 months old. Mpathso is now raised within Kunyumba. It is funny to see how his ‘geriatric’ face and his ‘frog legs’ slowly evolve into a bundle of joy (picture 5). Mpatso would have died without Kingless’s intervention.
Kettie (picture 6) is 23 years old and our youngest staff member. She has a small family herself and understands perfectly the need for children of all ages to combine learning and playing. The daily small units alternate with everyday role-play. She has a large repertoire of games to advance motor abilities and songs that the children are happy to sing loudly. She is also the chef and therefore responsible for the preparation of Kunyumba´s daily meals, breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack.

Isabell (picture 7) is the mother of Ibrahim (short: Ibu, picture 8), one of our Kunyumba children. Ibu is a very active, lively, vivacious boy with an over exuberance of energy, because of his handicap (cerebral dysfunction) he cannot always control his behavior. The team finds it is extremely difficult to constantly keep an eye on Ibu. We then had the idea, to employ Isabell. Being his mother she carries the ultimate responsibility when Ibu gets the idea to open the gate and run away for example. The concept has worked so far, which shows clearly that sometimes unconventional steps need to be explored. Isabell learns a lot from the other staff members when it comes to deal with her son and she is very grateful about the opportunity that Kunyumba gives to her and her son. Isabell’s daily task at Kunyumba is to take care of the washing (of clothes etc) needs, which is all done by hand.

Innocent (picture 9) is responsible for the cleanliness and safety in the house and also on the property. Working from 6 am to 5 pm he is always putting first the needs of Kunyumba. If someone is missing he willingly takes over their duties, including working wih the children.

Kunyumba also employs two security staff to work nights who take turns.

 The fact that employees, children and their relatives all come from Senga Bay has enabled Kunyumba to forge close relationships with the local community.  Further arrangements will be made by all parties concerned to strengthen this relationship.  This also ensures the special quality of our care at our Day Care Center.

At the end of today's newsletter I wanted to introduce you to 4-year-old twins, Ruthie and Flora, affectionately the pair is called Fruthie, picture 10. We discovered them in the village in impoverished conditions, their father was seriously ill and he subsequently died three weeks later. Since then Ruthie and Flora are daily visitors to Kunyumba after their pre-school finishes at 11 am. They have settled in very well. Their shyness in front of "Azungu" is lessening by the day.  

We “Azungu” are now leaving this beautiful place with a great sense of hope and good feeling.  We shall return to witness the continued success of Kunyumba. In this sense:


Ute Reichl

Kunyumba e.V.
Am Beethovenpark 40
D-50935 Köln