Newsletter December 2010
Since the opening of our project over a year ago, this was my first visit to Kunyumba during this season. While everyone longed for the rain in Senga bay, 100 km away the rainy season had already hit the capital city Lilongwe.
The first signs of it came in short showers which evaporated in seconds on touching the dusty red-brown earth – and so Kunyumba seemed all the more like an oasis to me, with its artificially irrigated vegetation in the middle of this dried-out village landscape- an impression that was only strengthened by the warm welcome. The literal meaning of Kunyumba  (in the local language Chichewa: Kunyumba=my home) came alive and could be deeply felt, although half of the staff and children were new to me due to new arrivals over the past months.

And so, during my stay, I finally got to know our new members, witnessed the development of those I already knew and rejoiced in the interaction of this ‘patchwork family’, whose members’ personal backgrounds diverge so greatly.

The new members of the family since the last newsletter in July 2010 are Richard and Gift:
After the loss of his mother (4 years ago) and of his father (1 year ago), 8 year old Richard has found a new home in Kunyumba and thereby a new perspective in his young life. His talent in all ball games is far superior to even that of the older children, while as – due to lack of care- he has no previous school experience. Thanks to Kunyumba, since September, he has been going to the local primary school, where, after the Christmas holidays, he will be starting his second term in form I (English school system). Once the day care in our children centre is over, he stays with the mother of one of our staff members, Kettie. Particularly moving is his behavior towards the younger children and those in need. Although he has no sisters or brothers, it is natural for him, as it is for most children of Malawi, to follow the parent’s example and look after the young.

Gift is only five years old. After a late-recognized meningitis he suddenly stopped talking and also displayed other behavioral problems that now require his constant supervision. Since both his parents were working, he spent his entire time alone in a hut. The recovery of his freedom of movement again as well as the interaction with others in Kunyumba have turned him into a more balanced and happier child. Admittedly, he requires most of our staff’s attention. However, considering the obvious positive changes and experiences we’ve had with Mtima, who shares a similar background, we are confident as to his further development potential.

In just the few weeks of my stay, Mtima ran away from home and found his way to Kunyumba all by himself, in the pitch black night. Now knowing the positive outcome, I rejoice thinking back on the agitation caused in the neighborhood, every time he escaped, which has shown that “our” disabled children have gained a new esteem among the villagers since being taken in by Kunyumba.

It is this comparison – before and after - that has made the developments of the last year very clear: Some lay in the nature of things: Missy, for example, was already darting around the garden by himself.
Some developments only became visible to me on closer inspection, such as, for example, the harmony when sitting around the table, where one still eyed the other’s plate, but without picking at it, trusting that there will be enough food every day.
On the other hand, others were immediately apparent: These include the opportunity to chat with our Memory, who after only one year in boarding school can already speak a decent English, or Sem who, since being part of a family for the first time, having been taken in by Peter’s family (our project manager), has gained self confidence and now has an almost normal daily speech behavior.
 All in all, 2010 was a wonderful year for Kunyumba. This, in terms of growth and success, will hopefully continue in 2011.
We thank you with all our hearts for your support and we wish you a good start in the New Year!

Kunyumba e.V.
Sarah Kempel

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