Zoe’s Volunteer Army… Ready for Action!

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.”Zoe & Book Volunteers 2

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.  reading-time

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. shop inside

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.

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New Boots for Builders

DSC_0019_6This 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.

DSC_0058 7We’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.

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Royal Mail Bikes for Malawi

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.

Zoe Kasiya, UK Resources Manager

Zoe Kasiya, UK Resources Manager

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.