|Many charities spend a lot of time, effort and money on complex planning, evaluation and make an academic study of development. We’re trying to spend our time, effort and money on action which transforms the lives of the disadvantaged.
Staffordshire-based businesses have risen to the challenge of supporting the growing storage needs of Krizevac Project, with M.J. Barrett of Uttoxeter, providing a huge warehouse behind TESCO, rent free!
Krizevac Project UK Coordinator, George Furnival, expressed gratitude to Andrew Hodgkinson, site Manager for M.J. Barrett. “With increasing donations of bikes and books, our Chairman’s sheep shed has proven to be insufficient to store the equipment needed for Malawi” she told us. “We have a fantastic container-loading capability in Uttoxeter with these purpose-designed premises. We’re able to accommodate all of our book and bike storage here and have been able to welcome a large team of volunter helpers. Barratts have kindly donated a further warehouse in Cresswell.”
Additional storage help has been donated by the Swadlincote logistics company, K.E.Express. Our grateful thanks to company owner, Tony Gaskill. Finally, our thanks are due to the Mobal Communications team in Hednesford for the kind use of additional space there.
Gavin Wickham, Operations Director of Britain’s most successful forklift truck company, Briggs, was delighted to hand over the keys of a robust and reliable forklift truck to Resources Manager, Zoe Kasiya last week. “This forklift is a real godsend,” Zoe told us. “Our volunteer teams have been lifting and shifting growing volumes of equipment, often manually, so this fork lift truck will mean we can safely and quickly get the donated kit off to Malawi.”
Krizevac Project logistical operations have become a significant international activity, annually collecting, storing, loading & shipping thousands of bicycles, hundreds of thousands of books, and specialised machinery & equipment. Zoe Kasiya faces no-shows, late deliveries and disappointments with determined cheerfulness, and calmly rides the rough waters needed to deliver essential equipment where it is most needed.
Briggs, a company known for their good work in the community, have supported Krizevac Project since 2012 when they first donated a wide range of furniture. Timing of this donation couldn’t have been better since it came at the completion of a major Krizevac-funded construction project, the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre, which cares for children under 6 in the township of Chilomoni, Malawi.
Krizevac Project has been shipping containers to Malawi since 2007, full of essential equipment securing growth and sustainability for enterprises. It’s a remarkable fact that , by the end of 2013, we have sent a total of 65 containers. In the last financial year we’ve shipped 4,588 bikes, 664 sewing machines and approximately 40,000 books as well as a host of plant and construction equipment..
Showing that ‘Every Little Helps’, TESCO, has thrown its support behind Krizevac Project in a special book recycling project that is transforming the lives of some of the world’s poorest children. Customers of the Uttoxeter supermarket, or anyone wishing to help, are being invited to bring in their old books when they come to shop. Other branches of TESCO are looking to throw their support behind this great venture soon.
Head of Tesco Customer Service, Hannah, was excited to launch the new scheme. “We’re keen to help this local charity and support members of our local community who want to help those less fortunate than themselves. We are making it easy for Tesco’s customers to clear space in their homes and recycle old or unwanted books while helping others. Customers can find the yellow collection bins at the back of the tills in TESCO Uttoxeter until further notice. We are encouraging everyone to support this worthwhile cause and bring in their old books, even if they don’t normally shop with us.”
Charity Resources Manager, Zoe Kasiya, has been encouraged by the news. “You can’t beat books as a way of helping. Some are used in Malawi for children’s reading and others are sold to raise funds. We send a 40 foot container of goods to Malawi every other month with thousands of books. Oddly, shipping books actually reduces what we pay in duty on other construction equipment we’ve been sending.”
Other book collection points can now be found in various locations in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire: St Mary’s Catholic Church, Top Shop, Richard Clark Primary School, St Nicholas Church, The Church of the Sacred Heart, and the Krizevac Project Office in Radmore Lane.
Four-year-old Alfie Toomey is setting the pace in a sports kit appeal for Malawian children. The active schoolboy from Northamptonshire heard that children in Malawi often have no footballs or sports kit from his teacher, Marc Williams, who had volunteered there with Krizevac Project. Alfie leapt in to help and asked all his school friends to join him and collect equipment… and so Alfie’s Africa Challenge was born! The brave little lad stood in the front of a school assembly and explained his challenge to his school mates, many of whom have promised to help.
Alfie’s Mum, Nicola, told us, “Alfie is a loving, friendly, cheeky little boy whose favourite thing to do is playing with his friends. He loves being active, enjoys being at the park and climbing trees!” The energetic lad is set to do well and is showing early dedication. His mum explained, “Alfie goes to tennis coaching every Saturday morning and is becoming very good at it! Like his daddy, he supports Liverpool Football club and loves to kick a football around.”
Malawi is known as ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’ and Alfie’s compassionate reaction will be so much appreciated there. This is not his first charitable endeavour and Nicola explained how her son has shown he too has a warm heart: “We were putting together a Christmas box for a charity, when Alfie heard that his school had only received half the amount of boxes that they had hoped for. This upset Alfie as he has the most amazing empathy towards others, so with help, he quickly made another to hand in to school.” Soon after, when Marc heard about how Alfie liked to help others, ‘Alfie’s Challenge’ was born. Alfie’s mum has set up a facebook page to help raise awareness of ‘Alfie’s Challenge’ to family and friends.
Marc Williams, a qualified teacher, is one of nearly seventy people who have selflessly volunteered their time since the beginning of 2009. Through the inspiration of Marc’s work in St James Primary School in Chilomoni township, Blantyre, the Krizevac Project has begun training 20 extended school workers to support the 23 teachers who grapple daily with the enormous task of teaching 1,800 pupils.
The British Army may be finding it difficult to recruit reservists, but willing and able volunteers are responding in their droves to the Krizevac Project’s rallying cry for help. Fourteen able recruits are now serving in the Uttoxeter Krizevac warehouse under the watchful command of Zoe Kasiya, Krizevac Resources Manager. “We’ve been appealing in the local press for support and I’ve been giving talks at local churches which have been really well received,” says Zoe. “Response has been brilliant! So many people appreciate the fact we’re not asking for money – many have their own charities they support but are now tired of being asked to give more. We’re simply asking for people to help us sort through donated books and post some for sale on Amazon. Our volunteers work happily and don’t earn a penny but have a lot of fun. We’re also getting through a fair quantity of tea bags! It’s heartwarming to see so many people offer their time and skills for the sake of others less fortunate.”
A quarter of all adults in Malawi cannot read, and Krizevac Project is addressing this in many ways. Not only have we built St James Primary School in Chilomoni township, Blantyre, but we’re using donated British books to make a big impact in different ways. Hundreds of thousands of underused or unwanted books have been sent to Malawi.
The book project began in 2007 when St Joseph’s RC Primary school in Rugeley, Staffs pledged a large number of used books when updating their library. These were loaded onto a container bound for Malawi (instantly reducing the amount of duty paid on the shipment): some were donated to schools and others used as the start of a community book exchange scheme. This later gave way to the current low-cost bookshop. The children’s centre outreach team is now working to help every child in the township of chilomoni to join in the ‘Playing with Books’ project.
Our volunteers sort the donated books and then package them for different use…
5% – Mother Teresa Children’s Centre looking after orphans & vulnerable children.
2% – Childcare training books.
3% – IT library learning resources for JPII LITI.
10% – Sold on Amazon in the UK to raise funds for shipping.
0.1% – Damaged and unreadable – sold for pulp or reused in other ways.
1.9% – Mechanics training books for Engineering Academy.
3% – Tailoring training books.
75% – Sold in Malawi for a token amount for the Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise.
Malawian student, twenty two year old Rudo Mhango, has developed a 3D video game called ‘Project Nyasa’ in his local language, Chichewa. One of over two hundred college students at the John Paul II Leadership and IT Institute, Rudo is achieving world-class software development in the middle of an impoverished African township.
JPII LITI was funded by US cellphone company, Mobal, through Krizevac Project, the unique charity created by its Chairman, Tony Smith. Tony explains, “Technology has the power to change the world for the better! As a landlocked country, Malawi is poorly placed to import or export anything, but with the fast internet connection which we’re providing this college, talented people like Rudo can sell software products and services to the world at the click of a mouse. We’ve made sure the skills and equipment are there to grow a world-class capability.”
Rudo’s dream of developing games began at primary school, and he’s amazed that his dream is now becoming a reality. The young computer geek explained, “This 3D video game development has involved a range of skills: computer programming, 3D graphics designing, some mathematics and, above all, passion! I am still working on it. I want to add some more features so that it gives a more interesting game experience to all users.”
He also revealed that he will soon be working with some other students from other colleges in Blantyre, to develop a new 3D car racing video game that will capture Blantyre city as a racing ground. Imagine, globally, those who’ve never visited Malawi will be able to drive around it in a virtual game.
It’s hard to believe the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre only became fully operational this year. Centre Manager, volunteer Helen Chiula, shared an update with us.
“More of the older children, known as ‘Eagles’ have flown from the nest! August 2013 saw 8 more MTCC children graduate to primary school. Two have gone to Mchiru Private School, while the others have stayed very close at St James’. One of the success stories from the group was of a young boy who had been attending the centre since it was opened. He arrived with no communication and exhibited inappropriate behaviour. With the patience and commitment of the Care Givers, he developed strong language skills, interacting with other children, enjoying taking part in activities. On Graduation Day, his parents could not speak highly enough of the changes they had seen. He has started off very well in Standard 1.
The year has seen many themes give way to creativity and inspiration in a number of different ways. Children have learnt new songs, games and stories, shared baking time, produced artistic masterpieces and always enjoyed playtime. There was even a wedding in our youngest room, Doves! Learning about Malawi led to a trip to the Museum of Malawi, where the children saw life-size models of rhinos and hippos – something many have only ever seen in pictures. They also got the chance to see old buses, the first fire engine of Malawi, and one of the old trains from the railway. The children have visited our very own Beehive Construction Team, and learnt about the JCBs they often see nearby. It’s been a busy few months, and continues to flourish.”
This week, our Resources Manager, Zoe Kasiya, cheerfully sent our last container of the year to Malawi, complete with a huge sack of donated boots from British Aerospace. We’ve made great strides in the health and safety of our workforce, and boots are always needed. Since 2008, Krizevac Project has been putting up new and different buildings in Malawi. Building practice is basic and, in all the time we’ve worked with hundreds of builders, we have been so fortunate that there have been very few and only minor injuries. Every engineer we have volunteering in Malawi makes improvements in safety. The sad thing is that the boots are treated with such care, that our workers often take them off before digging in a trench for fear of damaging them! Casual workers can also get more cash from selling the boots on the market than their earnings in construction so temptation to run off with them is high and we have pretty tight processes to control this.
We’ve always had to balance between process and product in our construction work: do we build buildings or grow the ability to build? Well, we end up doing the second by doing the first… it’s been an exciting roll-out of schools, community buildings, houses and more!
The small houses we built for volunteers are useful in themselves, but they were our classroom for learning to build. Our ‘learning by earning’ approach to skills development is key to the Krizevac development ethos. There is work to be done to formalise staff development, but enabling skills transfer from those who have some experience to those who have never worked is core. Our approach means we have to allow mistakes and constant course correction, but this is a very practical hands-on development.
We owe a great deal of thanks to the Royal Mail for their incredible donation of 20,000 bikes. Having decided these much-loved bikes are coming to the end of their useful life in the UK, we don’t think there is any possible better use than to give them a new life in Malawi where they’ll be so very valuable (see Beebikes).
Bikes are such a valuable source of transport in Malawi where fuel costs are rising every month. These Royal Mail bikes are perfect for Africa with Sturmey Archer 3 or 5 speed hub gears and hub brakes. They’re also real workhorses, hand made by Pashley in the British Midlands. It’s difficult to imagine a better way of boosting the life chances of rural communities in Malawi than with a Royal Mail bike.
We’d also like to thank customers and staff at Mobal Communications who have so generously pledged to fund the transportation of these bikes. The value of their donation is powerfully multiplied; the bikes sell in Malawi for twice the cost of the transport and we’ve created a number of jobs in the process.