HEEED Volunteer Activities
1) Mud-stove and fuel briquette production: the overall aim is to reduce deforestation in neighbouring Lake Malawi National Park. Mud-stoves (made from a mixture of mud and vetiver grass) reduce fire-wood consumption by 2/3 and over 330 have already been constructed in different parts of Chembe village. Fuel briquettes, a sustainable alternative to firewood are made from chopped vetiver grass and leaves.
2) Teaching English as a second language. Following an MOU between HEEED and the Chembe Secondary School, qualified university graduates can assist Chembe Secondary School in teaching English as a second language within the present curriculum. There are a total of 180 students – from Form 1 to Form 4. HEEED needs to liaise with the local Headmaster in order to establish the time-table for the HEEED Volunteer assistant teacher. Science could also be considered as a subject, as well as overall health issues, including bilharzia and HIV/AIDS. Apart from standard Ministry of Education text books on these subjects (provided by the Secondary School) and if requested by Chembe Secondary School and funds were forthcoming, HEEED could provide “The Hiding Hyena” as an educational cartoon booklet, using cartoon wild-life characters – seeking to eliminate HIV and AIDS among young people. HEEED could also provide relevant photo-copied texts from the HEEED/GoM publication “Lake Malawi National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site”.
3) Nutrition and the cultivation of nutritious vegetables and fruit. HEEED has developed a nutritious menu – using locally produced vegetables and protein and encourages organic gardening – without the use of artificial fertilizer. This is an activity that HEEED volunteers could participate in/liaise with the CPC/Sekanawo orphan-feeding programmes in Chembe village.
4) Aquaculture. HEEED has long recognized rampant over-fishing in the Lake is depleting stocks and that family aquaculture ponds are a sustainable source of protein. HEEED has also demonstrated that, although smaller in size, the taste of the cultivated fish is no different from the wild-caught fish in the Lake. HEEED can provide the technical know-how on the construction and maintenance of fish-ponds, while the plastic lining is a cost borne by the interested family.
5) Environmental Education. This a broad subject and the (free) twice-weekly after-dark evening shows at Panda Garden (currently sponsored by Ensome) cover the range of issues reflected in HEEED’s programme. Attendance is usually high (up to 500 people) and attracts a large number of youngsters.
6) Bilharzia snail-sampling. Data collection, research and health/environmental education are the basis for this activity – by helping HEEED staff “test the waters” and learn how to sample the waters (around lodges) for the bilharzia vector. This parasite lives part of its cycle in a small snail as well as in humans, lowers the immune system and recent studies have shown this debilitating disease to be linked to the higher prevalence of HIV and AIDS along the lake-shore. Volunteers can track and monitor the changes of the parasite in the area through experiments done with the data collected. This information is provided to the local community and can be used as an educational tool to raise the awareness on the cause and effects of bilharzia.
7) Orphan-feeding Programme: Beginning May 1st 2013 – 10 children (between the ages of 2-6) will receive a daily meal (fortified Likunipala Porridge), 6 days a week (from 8-12pm) – during which time, an English teacher will teach and read to them in English. The cost is approximately US$100 per month – paid for by University of North Carolina (UNCC) until 30th September. During their recent visit to Chembe, UNCC also generously contributed soft toys and children’s books and clothes.
8) Tree-seedling nursery: a variety of indigenous seedlings, also fruit trees are raised from seed and distributed free to local families and schools. However, HEEED charges a fee to non-Malawi buyers and these purchases help to defray costs of HEEED salaries and electricity.
9) HEEED Handicrafts: A group of talented young artists produce a variety of hand-made paper products that include cards, books, business cards, gift items. Creative recycling is the hallmark of this enterprise that also provides an income to HEEED and volunteers are encouraged to participate in quality control, innovative ideas, as well as the marketing of HEEED Handicraft products both locally and overseas. HEEED Handicrafts also organizes twice-weekly classes entitled “Art and the Environment” After school ends, the group of 12 young students learn how to observe and draw the flora and fauna of Lake Malawi National Park (LMNP), as well as creatively recycle waste paper and local fibres – to make hand-made products.