Butterfly Space - Malawi

Wimborne Rotary along with Wareham Rotary are seeking the support of the Rotary District to help fund important improvements to the services provided by the Butterfly Space.

The History:

Butterfly Space Project

Butterfly Lodge, in Nkhata Bay, was originally established in 1999 by an English/Malawian couple. Located in beautiful gardens on the Northen Malawi lakeshore it was the traditional back packers; with accommodation, bar restaurant and huge potential.

Alice Leaper and Josie Redmonds, bought the lodge in May 2007 with the aim of turning it into a community space, initiating many projects on site that bring together tourists, who are interested to volunteer or get involved, with interested locals looking for opportunities.  At that time, Alice had been in Malawi for over a year, volunteering at a school nearby and filming documentaries on different aspects of Malawian life. Josie had been in Malawi for nearly five years and been volunteering at different community projects, including a school garden project and mushroom growing project. Their idea when they bought Butterfly was to turn the place into something more than just for back packers.  Six years on, that vision is definitly taking shape.
The Concept:
To develop Butterfly as a unique community space, aiming to bring together Malawians and passionate tourists. It will be encouraged as a place with musical, informational, practical and creative opportunities, and hopes to attract longer-term visitors who wish to volunteer in projects and community work. This space will also seek to be respectful of the environment and encourage ways to sustain and develop its beauty.

Link to the Butterfly Space Web site:

Link to the Butterfly Space Facebook page:

News letter

A Volunteer Community Project in Malawi

Quarterly Newsletter
May 2015

By Josie Redmends

Hi Everyone, 

Welcome to May's Newsletter from Butterfly Space!

We've had a busy few months and in this newsletter you'll be hearing about the following;

  • Our work with Engineers without Borders from UK and Mzuzu based renewable Energy Company SMART on our Bicycle Water Pump
  • School Gardens
  • The Football Team
  • Women's Week
  • What have our Volunteers been up to?
  • A film made about us from a US film company


Bicycle Water Pump Developments

Recently I went back to the UK and whilst I was there I met with Andrew and Sam from Engineers Without Borders from Sheffield. After meeting with them several times they came out to Malawi to work on the bicycle water pump. We were really keen to ensure the next stage of the project was rolled out while they were here including research with local farmers into its use, feedback and improvements.

With that in mind I visited the SMART Renewable Energy Centre at Mzuzu University and arranged a collaboration. This meant carrying out a design workshop there at the university where Sam and Andrew got to meet various stakeholders in the field. Afterwards they met with different Government officials here in Nkhata Bay; Agriculture, Fisheries, Irrigation, Water, as well as trialling the pump with different farmers and NGO’s.

With some students from the university coming down to assist the guys with their research we hope to do a follow up workshop back at the SMART centre towards the end of their stay. We also hope the published research will reach a wider audience because of the link to the University and will look forward to the next phase of the project.

Ying was another volunteer who developed this initial link to the University as one of the lecturers there is a drip irrigation specialist and this is something I really want to demonstrate here at Butterfly - especially now we are pumping our own water. We used some of the kit brought by the first EWB volunteers and adapted it to add hose pipe as well, and it is a great start but one that we need to extend bit by bit to keep Butterfly looking green the whole year around.


School Gardens

I also saw a positive end, with the school gardens as I met up with Mkondezi F.P. School who I first worked with seven years ago. Since they are located further from Butterfly I had switched to working with Chikale and late Kalambwe, but after different setbacks we visited Mkondezi. Robert Mwale the deputy there attended a recent PDC at Butterfly and Mary the head teacher is also very keen.

It was incredible to be greeted with a planted orchard, compost, mulched areas and erosion control. Interestingly they also have two disused workshops; home economics and carpentry, the Government stopped funding them some time ago, but there is massive potential to renovate them and get them in use again. The Home Economics could help incorporate nutrition and permaculture within the curriculum. Exciting, bring on the rainy season!

We started meeting every Wednesday at the school with some of the pupils and teachers and set up a Permaculture Club. While it is often hard to motivate the kids through the dry season and holidays we have had a good number turning up each week and getting involved in the activities. Louise and Sadie, two volunteers, got their hands dirty on a couple of occasions, when they took time off from the nursery school. This school has now become our new school linked to the ReScope programme and we set up a base line meeting there. This will result in some future trainings for the teachers and a 5 day workshop at the school in September.

Before the rains ended as well we also managed to get out to 5 other schools to plant over 200 trees. While some of the schools are quite far from Nkhata Bay they are amazingly resourceful with such dedicated staff, that it would be brilliant to assist them in more ways in the future.


Women's Week 

We also managed to set up a women’s week which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and with some serious support from Saskia (our volunteer) and Eimer Kilroe (a nurse who lives in Nkhata Bay) we managed to pull it off. And what a success it was!!

There were three main aims; to hold a series of workshops throughout the week on useful topics for the women to learn, to give the women an opportunity to sell their produce and thirdly provide a space where useful contacts could be made amongst the different women’s groups coming from different areas.

We walked out and about over the preceding weeks explain to the village heads what would be going on including the timetable and encouraging women to get involved. On the first morning we were overwhelmed with 70 women turning up at 8.00 am. While explaining they could come and go as they please and pick the things to attend that they were interested in, the majority attended for the whole week having workshops in many areas like soap making, candle making, jewellery making, nutrition, clay ovens and many many more. 

We also had a health clinic with a nurse from the hospital, computer lessons and films running throughout the week and a brilliant workshop by Madalitso Mijiga from Action for Natural Medicine (ANAMED). The ladies were particularly inspired by this one as they realised all the small ailments they could cure with the plants that are growing around them.

We definitely forged some great relationships which will help us as we go into the future and expand the women’s programmes we are involved in.

The Football Team 

A contact I made back in the UK, through Becky (a recent volunteer), also prompted me to try again with the football pitch idea with the idea to gain some volunteers, expertise and funding for us to get a quality pitch here in Nkhata bay. It is such a popular sport yet the facilities are so inhibitive it really would not take much to provide a real training space. Mr Phiri works tirelessly with the youth football teams and was also the one to help distribute a donation we had fromNewsome Panthers from Huddersfield, who donated 4 kits they had finished with. Thanks Jasper Maguire, it is really appreciated!

What Have Our Volunteers Been Up To?

Around Butterfly JB and Frida helped me sort out the new clay oven for the kitchen, in brick this time and so hopefully more durable. I am also hoping to build compartments across the top to attempt some drying and smoking of things but this idea is taking a bit more thought.

We also finally decided to move the bar from the far end of Butterfly, an idea suggested by Hanne and Foris, our long term Dutch volunteers, as it hardly ever got used where it was and seemed a wasted space. We first had to concentrate on replacing chalets we would loose from the new bar location and so switched the old bar to become a new chalet. Keeping Gordon’s graffiti from the bar we incorporated it inside, to hold a large bed, and we made a lovely stone cottage right on the water’s edge. It’s a lovely space and when the deck is finished out front I would be surprised if guests want to leave!!

I finally submitted the radio proposal to OSISA and have an agonising 6 month wait until I find out if we have been successful. The local Government have offered a suitable building, which is exciting, close enough to town to be accessible and large enough. Renovations could start but we will wait until we know for sure about the rest of the equipment as otherwise it could be frustrating. One thing that is definitely necessary though is to establish as many links as possible with media and radio colleges worldwide who can bring future volunteers and information to Kandoli FM. This will help us in the long term to become a successful community radio station. Please contact me separately if you think you may have some useful contacts in this area.

And Lastly...

Something that may bring us more attention and assistance is a recent film made about us by Marc and Denise Dragiewicz from Eyes of the World Films. They came to Butterfly to produce an half an hour film about our story which is currently being played at various film festivals. In anticipation of it's release, we'd like to share the trailer with you below! 

Thanks for reading, as always if you'd like to help us you can donate below or if you are interested in volunteering please click the link below for more information. And lastly, word of mouth is our best form of communication so please feel free to share this newsletter on your social networking pages! 

Love Josie 

What the preview to our film made by Eyes of the Word Films here!

“Hidden in our hearts is a longing to live deeply and with purpose and joy, to know and to be known, to be concerned with another; and to make a difference.  In this dance of giving and receiving, we create our community, our World and ourselves” 

Copyright © 2015 Butterfly Space, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 211
Nkhata Bay

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