The Turners' African Adventure

August 31, 2023

Since my mum and dad started Bunches, we’ve always wanted our business to be about so much more than profits. We've aspired to be a business that makes a positive impact on the world, giving from its profits to make a difference to people’s lives.

So, this August, we decided to travel as a family to Malawi to show our daughters - Coco age 13, Lola age 11 and Ines age 9 - the difference that Bunches is making, by meeting some of the people whose lives have been changed and some of the projects that we’ve partnered with Links to enable.

We arrived a little tired after all the travel, full of anticipation and excitement. Very quickly Malawi grabbed our hearts, affirming its claim of being the 'Warm heart of Africa'.

Our first visit on day one was to Hope Farm in Lilongwe. Bunches has partnered with Links to help fund Hope Farm's solar irrigation system, enabling healthy banana crops. These bananas will help the farm to become self-sustainable but, also, the baby banana suckers will be given to families in the community, allowing them to benefit as well. It was wonderful to meet Wonga who manages the farm, and who also brilliantly drove us around all week, navigating the potholes and lack of road! Wonga is super capable and has such a heart for his country and its people. The foundation of Hope Farm is to make a difference and the fruit of the farm, both literally and metaphorically, serves the community making such a difference, whether through leadership training, education, feeding programs or empowering others. It was a joy to see the farm and all that it’s doing and how it is flourishing to meets the need of the local community.
In the afternoon of our first day the girls received a true Malawian welcome at Abundant Life Centre, with singing and dancing greeting us as we unfurled ourselves from the minibus. We supported 20-25 MEDs (micro-enterprise developments) through Abundant Life Centre and I got to interview two recipients of these loans. They told me first-hand how their lives had been changed, how they could now feed their families, send their children to school and have sustainable income. I was moved as I was reminded how deep Bunches' roots are - how a beautiful product that we sell in the UK brings so much flourishing across the world in Malawi.

Our visit to Seeds of Promise was brilliant. Luwani, our host, was so welcoming and enthusiastic. He showed us the irrigation pump that Bunches has funded, providing water for many crops that sustain and give life. Seeds of Promise are involved in children's feeding programs, education, holiday clubs and girls' empowerment mentoring and training - so seeing how Bunches is a part of this was amazing. As a family we introduced 500 kids at the holiday club to the game 'Up and Under'. It was hilarious to all involved - utterly brilliant chaos, with lots of joy. We were also treated to a delicious lunch, with the girls trying nsima and chewing on sugar cane. A true first - the latter went down a bit better than the former!

Next we travelled to Ntcheu to meet Sydney, where we have partnered over many years with VIBITAC to fund over 300 MEDs. We met a lady, Happiness, who had received a loan and who now has a successful business selling street food, enabling her family to thrive. We interviewed four other recipients of loans too, all of whom have a similar story of the MED loans empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty and into a sustainable income that brings life to their families. So good to chat face to face with those for whom Bunches has made such a difference.

After a lot of work project-visiting and travelling around, we shifted into full-on holiday mode, as we travelled to Liwonde National Park for two days of safari. Oh - My- Goodness - what an experience! Wild elephants at arm’s length, frogs in the bed, seeing cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles up close in their natural habitat and sunsets that are just incredible! We made memories as a family that will last a lifetime!

Our last destination was beautiful Nkhotakota on the shore of Lake Malawi. The girls and I relaxed by the glorious lake, whilst Dan visited FESODEV’s June Farm and Hope Mission's rice fields. Again, Dan said how good it was to see Bunches making such a difference to enable these farms, through effective irrigation, to grow crops that bring hope to the local community. They are passionate about making a difference and are creating self-sustaining farms that have an entirely outward-looking focus.

Our time in Malawi was amazing. Sam Walker was such a good host; we really saw the warm heart of Malawi in all the people that we met. Our hearts were so encouraged to see how much of a difference Bunches is making, partnering with Links to help transform people’s lives and helping them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Dani Turner

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