The Mango Tree Summer Newsletter 2023

Dear Supporters,

Welcome to our Summer 2023 newsletter. 

I am writing to you from Mwanza, in southern Malawi, having spent nearly 3 weeks in Tanzania. I am so delighted to be back in Africa again, post the COVID pandemic. After Malawi, I’ll be heading onto Kenya for the final leg of my trip. 

As you know, this year we are celebrating our 20th anniversary. We marked this special occasion with some small events around the country, and were delighted to host Consolata, the TMT Kenya Director, who was able to meet and talk to donors and potential investors for The Mango Tree Girls’ Secondary School.

A group of students from Gloucestershire have also been visiting Tanzania, volunteering at Kyela Polytechnic College (KPC), as well as in schools and within Kyela District. It has been an exciting few months for them, fundraising and preparing for their trip. You can read some highlights of their experience here, and we look forward to sharing more in our autumn annual report. Engaging young people in volunteering has been hugely impactful as they can better connect with our young participants in ways that both sides can learn from and inspire each other. 

We hope everyone is having a lovely summer and are sending lots of best wishes from our partners in Africa.

As always, thank you for your kindness and generosity,

Emily Wilder
UK Director

Celebrating 20 years of The Mango Tree

As part of TMT’s 20th anniversary celebrations, Consolata visited the UK in April and we hosted four events in Wirral, Liverpool, Uppingham and London. 

Consolata gave passionate presentations at these events, explaining the impact of TMT’s work in Kenya, highlighting their progress towards greater independence and thanking everyone for their generous support. 

In addition, Maya, who had recently returned from a volunteering placement in TMT Kenya as a teaching assistant, gave a wonderful, inspiring and touching talk about her experience in Africa and the impact it has had on her life.  

We are so grateful for the support and donations that these events have generated. Thank you.

Consolata visits the UK

During Consolata’s visit, she was also able to meet with several donors, fundraising organisations, and a videographer who is supporting us in making a short film of TMT Kenya this summer to help them promote their work in Kenya and Malawi. TMT UK also facilitated meetings with The WONDER Foundation, ITSA Digital Trust, and Kids Club Kampala, to explore opportunities for partnership work and collaboration. Creating these kinds of relationships and opportunities is a key part of building capacity and moving towards independence.   

Whilst she was staying in Stroud, Consolata was delighted to meet up with Erick Odek, one of TMT’s sponsored orphans. Erick participated in the sponsored climb of Kilimanjaro in 2012, that raised thousands of pounds to help us sponsor other orphans at school. Erick is now living in Portsmouth and works for Network Rail. 

Emily in Africa

On 12th July, Emily flew to Africa, where she will be visiting our programmes, as well as delivering monitoring & evaluation training, as we work towards building capacity and the independence of our partners. Emily has a busy schedule. She spent the first part of the trip in Tanzania, before driving 950kms down to southern Malawi, where she will be for two weeks, before flying to Kenya for the final part of her trip.

“It’s so wonderful to be back in Africa, collecting amazing and inspiring stories from some of the people TMT has supported, as well as working together with partners to support the development of new social enterprises.“ – Emily Wilder, July 2023

Mango Madness

Arthur and Jannah held the second Mango Madness music fundraiser event in Stroud for young people in June. The evening was a huge success. Over 250 young people attended and they raised over £2,000! The event was hosted by Studio 18, and organised ‘by and for’ local young musicians and artists from the Stroud area. Arthur and Jannah created an inclusive space for them to come together, perform their music, and raise awareness about TMT’s work in Africa. They performed rap music, DJ’d and produced graffiti art during the afternoon and evening. The funds were used both to fund Arthur and Jannah’s trip to Tanzania, as well as a donation of £1,000 towards education fees for orphans.

Arthur and Jannah will be volunteering in Kyela for a month; so far they have been helping teach English, and collecting inspiring impact stories from those who TMT has supported as part of celebrating our 20th anniversary. 

Volunteers tackle period poverty in Tanzania

Volunteers Katie, Ella, Isla and Charlotte, from Cheltenham College, spent the past two weeks volunteering in Tanzania, as part of KPC’s newly established volunteer programme. These young women trained a group of local women in the production of reusable sanitary towels. 

The design for the reusable eco-pads, kindly shared with us by Pachamama, was learnt by the girls during training sessions in Stroud, as part of a 6-month preparation to fundraise for, set up, teach and manage eco-pad production. 

In mid-July, the team set off to Tanzania to begin their workshops, where they are training and supporting tailoring tutors, students and other local women in Kyela interested in starting to make and sell reusable sanitary towels across the District. The volunteers carried with them the raw materials to produce enough reusable pads, for every student at KPC to be provided with a set. 

The sanitary pads will initially be distributed to pupils at KPC and local disadvantaged girls in primary schools. KPC then hopes to scale up production so they can provide high quality, affordable, reusable sanitary towels, diversify local incomes, reduce local single-use plastic waste, and remove one of the barriers that prevent girls from regularly attending school.

The volunteers have run an amazingly successful production line at KPC, with the girls and participants producing over 200 sanitary pads at KPC in just under a week! 

They have also met local women’s cooperatives in rural villages and learnt how to make batik prints.

Volunteers establish KPC netball team

The Cheltenham College volunteers are also establishing a KPC netball team. Working with their Cheltenham College and local Gloucestershire netball groups, they collected enough donated items (netballs, pumps, nets, bibs, uniform) to kit out four netball teams. 

Girls and young women in Tanzania face challenges and barriers to undertake sporting activities, as demands at home don’t allow adequate time for extra-curricular activities. 

This project has been supported by sportswear brand Pebe, who donated over 100 sport bras for the KPC and the charity Dreams (working together for an AIDS free future for girls and women) pupils.

Faraja cafe prepares to open in Mbeya

The Tanzania Deaf Skills Forum (TDSF) has been working closely with Naomi Mwasambili, an award winning entrepreneur, consultant, researcher, farmer and accredited project manager, who specialises in innovation, social enterprise and development. Naomi has been supporting TDSF with the initial planning and development processes of their community café social enterprise that they hope to open in August. 

Emily and Naomi worked together with the team supporting their planning process, conducting market research and inspiring them to be creative with their menu and café design ideas to bring a taste of Kyela to Mbeya!

Overcoming the impact of Cyclone Freddy impact

On 12th March this year, Cyclone Freddy entered Malawi and devastated much of the southern region [read our blog here]. 

The impact upon TMT participants has been great: Over 600 adults and children have experienced the collapse of part or most of their homes. In addition, 49 families of the 123 families supported last year have lost their livelihoods (farm infrastructure, crops and livestock), and therefore much, if not all, of their income. Poor sanitation and flooding also raises the risk of cholera and other health issues, meaning that communities have become more vulnerable. All of these households will be supported in rebuilding their livelihoods as part of this year’s Our Lives Our Land programme. 

As part of Emily’s visit to Africa, she will visit Malawi to assess the impact of Cyclone Freddy, enabling TMT to develop a thorough recovery plan for the affected participants, and thereby helping to rebuild their communities. 

Striving to keep children in school

Patricia, a 49-year-old mother of seven, lives in the village of Pfupa in Mwanza District, Malawi. Since her divorce 5 years ago, she has struggled to earn enough to afford the fees to keep her children in school. Patricia became a participant in the Our Lives Our Land programme in 2018, receiving chickens, and more recently pigs, so she can diversify her income, become more resilient, and support her children.  

“Life is not easy with these seven children, I don’t want them to remain at home or be kicked out of class because I have failed to meet school requirements. I try the best I can to ensure that they are able to go to school.” – Patricia, 2022