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Inspiring communal change in Malawi

In a small community a few kilometres from Chipoka, Malawi, Dr. Martin Jamieson of Livingway Education (LWE) saw how frustrated the locals were at the lack of opportunities to lift themselves out of the poverty which kept them trapped. He also saw the passion burning in their hearts, and he knew that this passion would be the force that would help to put their poverty behind them, if they were just given the chance to do so.

Angella Banda, 18, with her sewing machine

18 year old Angella Banda dropped out of school before grade 12. Coming from a family of 10, her father was unable to support all his children and pay their school fees as well.

37 year old Ruth Makwinja has 5 children to look after, but her husband works in South Africa and doesn’t visit nor support them, leaving them to fend for themselves.

Every person has their own story of struggle and hardship, but their passion for their community and the desire to improve it led to them applying for tools from TWAM with the assistance of LWE.

While waiting for their tools to arrive, they all worked together to construct a community college, with 2 classrooms as well as outside workshops. Trainers guide students through courses in carpentry, construction, and tailoring, each course lasting 6 months.

The community members have shown a remarkable level of commitment to improving their living standards. They formed an Action Committee to discuss the process of identifying appropriate trainers and students, the construction of the community college, and the transportation of the tools. TWAM does not work directly with Malawi, so the fact that they managed to transport the tools from our partner country Zambia to Malawi is a testament to their dedication.

"I can see a better future for our community and for the whole of Malawi" -Watson Mbewe, village headman

They are now all able to support each other in so many ways, whether that is making and selling clothes, constructing houses and other buildings, making furniture, etc. Their lives are getting brighter by the day as they put their hard-earned skills into practice.

Ruth Makwinja, 37

Dr. Martin Jamieson, director of SENTAfrica and LWE, tells us: “The community is seeing a resurgence of economic activity that will affect it for years to come. The fact that this change has been, and is still being, organised by their own leaders is a considerable source of pride.

Watson Mbewe, one of the village headmen, said: “I can see a better future for our community and for the whole of Malawi.

The success of the community led to organisations from the surrounding villages expressing interest in applying for their own tools to transform their lives as their neighbours did.

At Tools with a Mission, we feel incredibly lucky to be able to work with organisations such as LWE. Together with them, and our dedicated volunteers and supporters, we are able to give people the opportunities that they need to put poverty behind them and start their new lives of independence and self-subsistence.


We'd love to tell you more about the impact that we're having. If you'd like to see even more stories of livelihood creation, sign up for our email list and we'll keep you updated.

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We take a wide variety of tools. Click the button above for the full list of accepted tools, and to find your nearest local collector or drop-off point.

Our work is mostly done by volunteers, whether that's driving around collecting tools, refurbishing them, or helping out in the office. Have a look at our roles.

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