Permission to Build!

Great news from the busy Beehive Construction Team, we have just received planning permission to add to the Beehive Campus with a brand new two floor building.

Some of the Beehive team gather on the beautiful Beehive Campus

Some of the Beehive team gather on the beautiful Beehive Campus

For the past year the building team have been kept busy with completion of the football pitch, vital maintenance works across Chilomoni and converting containers for temporary facilities. But now construction work can begin again in earnest with the start of the Beetech Data Building.

When completed the building will house the latest Beehive enterprise; Beetech will provide vital employment for many graduating students from JPII, they will be taking on contracts to process data for corporations, not only from within Malawi but from around the world.

Head of Design and Construction, volunteer Donn Ponnighaus

Head of Design and Construction, volunteer Donn Ponnighaus

The construction team is headed by our amazing volunteer Donn Ponnighaus an Irish/ German architect born in Malawi! He’s been working with us as a volunteer for two years and cannot wait to get stuck in with this major building project. He’ll be overseeing the construction team to see his eco-friendly block designed building through to completion at the end of 2017.

 

 

 

What a year!

Huge apologies to everyone who follows this blog, you may have noticed our lack of blogging. We have no excuse other than we’ve just been too busy doing things to write about them. So here is a quick round up of our main activities over the last year and what a year we’ve had!

Krizevac in the UK

We continue to exist to supply all of the enterprises in Malawi with crucial equipment and people needed to help Beehive in Chilomoni to thrive. But this year we’ve had a huge focus on increasing our financial sustainability by generating all of our own funds to pay for the shipping. So it’s been the year of Elephant Bike.

We started this, our first UK enterprise back in 2015, but throughout 2016 these amazing bikes have dominated our work. We’re renovating and selling a limited edition of 5000 of the beautiful and robust Royal Mail Mailstar bikes to sell here in the UK. Each one sold, pays for another to go to Malawi. The ones we send to Malawi are not renovated; they are still fully refurbished by the Chilomoni workshops, so there are still plenty of employment opportunities for the trained bike mechanics in Malawi. So far we’ve sold around 700 bikes which has generated a significant amount of income- in fact in 2016 we’ve managed to ship over 1000 bikes, several hundred sewing machines and thousands of books… all funded by the Elephant Bike sales.

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Our UK team has grown to undertake all of this work. We’ve been joined by Mark Vyner, Workshop Manager and Kacey Ralph, Workshop Assistant, who along with Terry, make sure each and every Elephant Bike arrives to our customers in tip-top condition. We continue to work with Swinfin Hall Youth Offenders Institute who help the Elephant Bike project by stripping down all of the bikes before the professional re-build.

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Terry, George and Mark in costume for a vintage bike show!

Our merry gang of volunteers has grown too, this year we’ve been joined by Jerry, Brendan, Eileen, James and Ben who all give regular time to help us out. They join all of our “old” (in service longevity, not years!) volunteers who pack books, sell books, mend bikes, keep us tidy and drive around the UK… we couldn’t function without the hundreds of donated hours we’re given and we’re eternally grateful to all.

We continue to appeal for bikes, books and sewing machines to send to Malawi (a small proportion is sold here in the UK, again to help raise funds). We’re grateful that the donations are still arriving with us, even though we cannot offer a collection service anymore. This year we’ve received over 1000 bikes, around 150 sewing machines and countless books. There are too many names to mention here, but we’d love to thank the following extra special partners for their ongoing support; Halfords, Workaid, Recycle, Preloved, Stoke Police and Staffordshire Moorland Soroptimists.

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Of course the most significant event of this year actually happened on Christmas Eve last year, with the safe arrival of beautiful Betsy Kasiya to proud new parents Zoe and Yohane. While we miss Zoe hugely, we’re all very glad that she’s taken this time to be at home with her lovely new daughter. Apologies to all who have noticed our lack of organisation without Zoe here to keep us in shape! She will be back and organising us all again very soon, thank goodness:-)

Krizevac in Malawi

While things have been buzzing in the UK, Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise has always been buzzing and it continues to thrive.

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The creation of meaningful employment, family support, education and early years care is more important in Malawi now than ever before. The national economic situation has worsened, the cost of living is rising and life for many is tougher than it has been for years.

Beehive continues to employ over 380 permanent staff and they are working harder than ever to ensure the enterprises thrive. One of the most significant developments is the expansion of Torrent Plant Hire into Mozambique. The management team spotted opportunities to increase revenue by expanding the rental service over the border where construction projects are more buoyant. This means that Beehive continues to stand on its own two feet financially; other than provision of resources from the UK, Beehive continues to generate all of its own funding.

Another Malawi side success story is the growth of the John Paul II Leadership and IT Institute which has helped over 400 young Malawians to access top quality IT training this year. Around 60 of these students are now living in new hostel facilities which helps to reduce transport and living costs, making a valuable education more accessible. Some of the students have found employment within Beehive’s newest enterprise. This latest business offers data processing services to Malawian and international organisations. It’s so promising that Beehive are constructing a whole new building to house the enterprise. Designs for the new building are soon to be submitted for planning and the construction team are champing at the bit to begin building again!

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Beebikes, Books and Tailoring all continue to thrive. It’s now impossible to go anywhere in Blantyre without seeing red Royal Mail bikes everywhere!

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The ultimate beneficiaries of all this enterprise continue to be the children and families who receive early years care, primary education and family support from Mother Teresa Children’s Centre. The team work so hard to provide top quality care to the hundreds of children they support.  This year has been busy for MTCC as the centre is supporting a brand new vital feeding programme. Seibo is a Japanese charity, being managed by Declan Somers (our former Country Director). Seibo aims to feed every hungry child in the world a meal every day when they are at school. The feeding is starting in nurseries in Chilomoni, and we’re pleased as punch that MTCC has been able to help. Times are hard in Malawi, with two years of bad harvests there is real danger of people going hungry. Feeding children at school or nursery reaches the poorest of the poor and ensures children get an education as well as a meal.

Queuing for phala at nursery

Queuing for phala at nursery

Another exciting development  for MTCC came after we bid a fond farewell to Debbie Lawson, our longest standing volunteer Centre Manager. As her time in Malawi came to an end, she handed the leadership to Vasco Pafupi who has been with MTCC since the very beginning as a Care Giver. Vasco is supported by Olive Sekeni as Day care Manager. This move to Malawian management is truly exciting and reflects how hard the team have been working.

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Vasco and Olive have been joined by two new UK Trainers/ Consultants: Cindy Raymond is spending two years at the Children’s Centre to deliver Management and Leadership training as well as recruiting and training the next cohort of Care Givers. Laura Russell also joined the team as a Social Work Consultant. Laura, along with her husband Mark who is helping the finance team at Beehive, have moved to Malawi as their forever home , we’re really pleased they’ve chosen to work at Beehive. They join Donn our Architect, Julie our Country Director and Jo who looks after Seibo to make up our team of Malawi volunteers.

I should quickly mention that in March this year on a trip to Malawi,we were joined by Ollie from Hewitt and Walker, the amazingly talented film maker  who made films for us in 2015. He shot fantastic footage for some lovely new short films showing more about life and work in Chilomoni… so keep an eye out on our Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as the movie page on this website for some cracking new films! Thanks as ever to Ollie, Brian, Sue and this time Charlotte too, for all your help and hard work.

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There’s probably much more news than that to share, but if you’ve managed to read this far… well done! You can count yourself as a genuine Krizevac fan;-) We’ll try to do shorter and more frequent updates from now on… but at least now you know we’re still here, still busy and still needing your support as much as ever, thank you!

 

 

A Busman’s Holiday

Or should that be “bikeman’s holiday”!?

It’s been a hectic year here at Krizevac, launching the Elephant Bike enterprise has meant we’ve all been busy busy, so I was very much looking forward to my recent two week break. In planning a camping and caravanning holiday for myself and my husband, I realised that we really needed to take a bicycle each so that we could make the most of the end of summer and ditch our car. As it turns out, borrowing two demo-model Elephant Bikes from work was the perfect solution for us.

I am not a cyclist! I haven’t been on a bike for nearly 10 years. My husband is a non-driver and is dependent on an electric bike for transport… but one electric bike is no good for two people. So I packed a couple of Elephant Bikes in the car and off we went…

I should explain that we have an aging dog, so we needed to plan all our rides around him. We had to be off-road and we could only manage a few miles before he needed a bit of a snooze. But as we stayed by an old railway line turned bike track, we were in the perfect place.

Loving our Elephant Bikes!

Loving our Elephant Bikes!

We had two of the large sized frames (I am 5’7” and my husband is 6’3” but 22 inch frame was perfect for both of us), we chose not to have the front carriers for ease of transport… that was our only mistake, the baskets would have been much easier than rucksacks. But we were absolutely delighted with the bikes in general. “It just feels like once you start pedaling the bike will go on forever” Jack (the husband) said, “It’s such an easy ride”.

Man and dog happy to be heading towards the pub!

Man and dog happy to be heading towards the pub!

We even let my parents have a go when they came to visit; John said “I haven’t been on a bike for 30 years, but this one is so easy, it feels really safe” as he cycled off with his trousers tucked into stripey socks!

First ride for 30 years... the socks definitely helped!

First ride for 30 years… the socks definitely helped!

We managed a good few rides, all on the gravel track which was muddy and occasionally slippery in places, but the bikes coped fine. The low gearing meant that (despite their weight) they were able to cope with pootling along at Border Collie speed, but when he did decide he had enough energy for a canter, the bikes were more than capable of keeping up. We used them to get to the shops and transport all our food. Of course, we made the odd trip to the pub too… well, we were on holiday!

When my husband reads this bike review he’ll finally realise I had dual purpose in suggesting we used Elephant Bikes as our ride of choice. We’re selling these bikes so that we raise funds to pay to ship thousands more to Malawi and I have always believed in the “cause”. Now that I have spent two weeks on my two wheels I can say in all confidence that we have a brilliant product as well as a great purpose.

Ele Bikes in their natural environment!

Ele Bikes in their natural environment!

Breaking News

We are now allowed to say “as featured on the BBC” following a great article about the bikes on tonight’s Midland’s Today!

"Re-cycling" in a literal sense. A charity in Staffordshire is reconditioning bicycles used by the Royal Mail, selling…

Posted by BBC Midlands Today on Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Buy One Give One!

Have you seen our brand new UK social enterprise yet?

We’re selling a limited edition of really top-quality fully refurbished Royal Mail bicycles. Every one you buy gives another to Malawi, which means you get a great quality bike and someone in Malawi does too.

Have a look at www.elephantbike.co.uk for full details and you can like us on Facebook too!

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Constructive Learning

It’s always great to hear how the donated items we send to Malawi are being used, here’s an update from Mother Teresa Children’s Centre Manager, Debbie Lawson. We love the way the team of Care Givers are observing how these “toys” are allowing the children to lead their own learning….

“I thought you might like to see some pictures of how we’ve been getting on with all of the tools you sent for us to use in daycare and play sessions. Fanuel from Construction came, firstly to look at showing staff how to use the tools, then he came to show the children in a group session.

Since then it’s been construction a go-go.  We’ve made tables for the home corner and of course the obligatory ladder (to escape???) the children are getting more motivated and creative with their ideas.  They are also thinking carefully about measuring, balancing, how to make parts of things the same, how to make them strong etc. See, the ladder even works!

This is also a great activity for caregivers to see how challenge makes great learning!

Thanks for collecting these things! Enjoy the pictures.

Debbie”

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Time to Reflect

In 2010 Krizevac Project was fortunate to recruit two wonderful early years trainers, we knew that they had the most important job we had ever tasked a volunteer to do: we asked them to train the team of Malawians who would grow and lead Mother Teresa Children’s Centre. A task they accomplished with skill and dedication. One of them, David Meechan has recently returned to Chilomoni and couldn’t resist popping in to MTCC to see how his old students were faring. Here in his own words is David’s reflection on his day.

“I left the Beehive three years ago after having been a volunteer for nearly two years with my colleague Marian Pearson. Our task had been to train a team of sixty care givers who would work in a new children’s centre in Chilomoni called the ‘Mother Theresa Children’s Centre’ or MTCC for short. The first of its kind in Malawi. Today, I’m back visiting to see how things have developed.

The first thing I notice are the faces of students we started training in 2010, now qualified care givers. It’s great to see them still here doing what we trained them to do. Then there are also the new faces too. This is because the MTCC is continuing to provide training to new care givers. This is important as this adds to the sustainability of not only the MTCC, but the quality of care and support that is offered to children who attend the centre. It further adds to the MTCC’s ethos of continued professional development. Just as the children are continually encouraged to develop, so too are the care givers. Further more, an advanced diploma is also being offered to meet the needs of more experienced staff. To see all of this in action, humbles me with what was once discussed and hypothesised about at various meetings I attended in the early days I was a volunteer. The dream and vision really is becoming reality.

Today I’m spending the morning with Patricio who heads the outreach team and Chifundo who has been at the MTCC for over a year now. Patricio is one of the people I taught during my time as a volunteer, I am therefore pretty excited to see how he’s doing. In the morning we visit a local nursery school. This is to provide support in terms of practice and ideas for activities to do with the children who attend there. On the way there Patricio and Chifundo are eager to explain their work. They have twenty-nine settings in the local area that the team aim to visit at least each month. Even before we’re inside the team are welcomed by a group of excited children. A ‘Hello’ song is started by Patricio and eagerly joined in by the children after which a story is read by Chifundo. Then children are split into groups for different activities. It was great to see familiar activities but also localised and relevant activities that needed only imagination and a little support to engage the children. Without doubt, I felt an enormous sense of pride in watching Patricio doing what he does best. Afterwards I asked him how he thought the session went and he replied ‘You know David, when you used to come and watch to asses me before, I had the fear. Today, I didn’t have the fear- I enjoyed it.’ What I saw in Patricio was a sense of enthusiasm and confidence that was wearing off on Chifundo. But bigger than this, I also realised that the project is working, volunteers at the MTCC are empowering the care givers who are then empowering their fellow colleagues.

We made it back just in time for me to visit the south building where the day care is provided. Visiting each room I found happily engaged children. The care giver’s interactions brought smiles to my face endlessly. I found one care giver hiding in the play house in an intense game of hide and seek, another sat assisting a group with fine motor skills and another, when I returned to the staff room, reading up on treasure baskets for the baby room. Being a volunteer I always knew the potential that such a project as the MTCC had and being in the privileged position as a trainer I saw those early sparks, but now I was seeing the continued results a few years down the line and it’s fantastic.

At lunch time I visited the various rooms as care givers sat with the children to eat lunch. A huge part of the training programme we developed focused on nutrition and it was good to see how seriously this is still taken. Some of the children attending the MTCC come from the poorest families in the township, relieving the burden of having to prepare food for their children during the week, although a small act, is a very important act. This enables the children the best start they can ask for, full of energy and eager to learn.

After lunch I head out to a parenting group that’s ran each week at a local primary school with Patricio and Ruth. There are three levels for parenting groups and this group is near the end of the third level so coming to an end. The group was slow to start as parents trickled in but by the time everyone arrived there were close to twenty parents. Today issues such as ‘What is a child?’ and ‘At what age can you leave a child home alone?’ where discussed. All familiar questions to practitioners back home, but what I really enjoyed was the amount of discussion and dialogue these questions generated between parents and the good humour used to facilitate the conclusions. A clear relationship had been established between Patricio, Ruth and the group- just great to see and witness firsthand. At the end of the group drinks and snacks were given and several smaller group discussions broke off.

I also had chance to visit several families whose children were some of the first to benefit from sponsored places at the MTCC and who have now left and attend the local primary school. The conditions they were living in had changed little since the first home visit I had made a few years ago. But the welcoming and the smiles I received were totally heart-warming and whole experience was pretty emotional to be honest. Their lives are still very difficult, and as much as their children miss the MTCC I was told that they’re all doing well at school- albeit the circumstances within which they now learn.

As I boarded a mini bus for home, I looked out of the window trying to gather my thoughts on the day. Chilomoni on the face of it has changed little, but dig a little deeper and there’s some real change happening. A constructive change for those children and families who have access to the services and day care at MTCC. Admittedly, I left feeling very proud and happy with the work that is being done. A huge well done to all of you involved both in the UK and Malawi.”

David catches up with his old friend Rabson

David catches up with his old friend Rabson