This story began on the western shores of Lake Malawi.
Imagine this: the warm sun on your skin, the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, and the sweet scent of tropical fruit wafting on the breeze.
Put simply, it’s idyllic. And it’s the place where the three of us met and our dreams began.
“We hate mosquitos!”
We are Julius, a headteacher, Tiwanee, a lodge manager and Quentin, a diving instructor.
We realise this sounds like the start of a bad joke, but bare with us here...
It might not sound like we have much in common. But quickly, we bonded over delicious Malawian dinners, travel stories and a shared hatred of the local mosquitoes. Oh, and we all call Kapeska our home!
Sounds great right? (Minus the mosquitos of course!) Check out our instagram page where we share our favourite Malawian recipes, so you can bring a taste of Kampeska to your kitchen!
The more we talked, the more we realised we bonded over a bigger dream…
To transform our home, Kapeska, in the most sustainable way possible.
When we realised this, we knew we had to make it become a reality.
So, off we set…
The Malawi Wawi dream is born!
Now, before this all sounds too much like a fantasy, you should know the many, difficult and enduring challenges we’re tackling every day.
Here in rural Malawi, the poverty cycle is vicious. And, sadly, very common.
It’s a pretty complicated beast. But in a nutshell, our main challenges are:
Low school attendance (especially for girls).
High illiteracy and unemployment.
Limited access to food, water and electricity.
A different approach
Over the years, we have seen organisations pump money and resources into the system.
This provides a short term fix, but means our communities rely too heavily on aid. And when budgets run out, so do the projects.
Here at Malawi Wawi, we had some different ideas:
To see our community thrive sustainably, stamping out reliance on foreign aid.
To empower everyone in Kapeska to be the authors of their own destiny.
To create a global community of cheerleaders and friends, just like you!
The dream was starting to become real.
But first, we needed some land...
Like in any good story, we’ve overcome some obstacles along the way. After a few months of looking for the right spot, we still had no luck.
We were scratching our heads, wondering what to do, when Julius came across some land.
Better still, it already had a small building on site - it was meant to be!
‘Wawi’ means ‘togetherness’
Togetherness is at the heart of everything we do. So much so that we included it in our name!
We work together with each other, with the community, and with you, our supporters.
That’s why we wanted to get the ‘go for it!’ from the whole Kapeska community and our leader, Chief Kanyanga. So, nervously, we pitched our big idea, with fingers crossed for a majority vote in the community.
As if by magic, our visions aligned, and within a month, the plot was donated to us for free!
Our new home was two acres of land, with a small brick building. We had that feeling that it was the start of something special…
Dreams become reality
We quickly got to work. With support from you guys, our global family, and some serious hard graft from local volunteers, there was a frenzy of activity.
We built a primary school, a community centre, a sports ground, a kitchen and a community garden. Not bad for first timers, huh?
A self-sustainable income?
The next challenge was to reach our goal of becoming financially sustainable.
Here’s the big question - how do we fund our projects for the long run, through community action, and eradicating charity aid?
Enter Tiwanee. She had been running around town in some pretty rad dungarees, designed by a local tailor.
They were made of local chitenge cotton, bold colours and stunning prints. And they are the designs worn by our village.
How could we not be inspired?
It was a lightbulb moment!
Malawi Wawi becomes
a fashion brand!
We bought two sewing machines, trained up eight local tailors, and set up one etsy shop.
And, hey presto! Malawi Wawi is now a social enterprise of tailors. Everyone is paid a living wage, and all profits are reinvested into the community centre.
And, the designs have expanded to include dresses, kimonos and accessories. So, there is something for all your styles and occasions!
A Global Community
You guys loved our designs so much, that by the end of 2019 we had shipped over five countries in Europe, the USA and beyond.
So, when you buy one of our garments, you join our growing global community. A community defined not only by its bold prints, but a story of change, and a vision of hope.
You wear a garment made with local material, local people, and local methods. And a LOT of local love!
A new kind of cycle
Slowly and steadily, Kapeska is shifting from a cycle of poverty, to the cycle of sustainable transformation. And that’s all thanks to you!
We’re going to use our model to continue growing our beautiful communities in Kapeska and around the world, sharing knowledge, safe spaces, education, and fashion.
Like all cycles, there is no end to this journey. Because here at Malawi Wawi, the change is tangible and we won’t stop until…. well, we just won’t stop!
We have big plans, and there are SO many things we want to do.
But, first up on the agenda is raising funds for:
Two new classrooms to get more kids in school
New teachers’ accommodation
A sustainable women’s farming project
Will YoU help us?
If you’ve read this far, you’re our kind of person, and we want
you to join our global community of change makers.
How will you help us write the next chapter?