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Malawi: Tools for Self-Reliance

Providing carpentry tools for young people to set up in business in teams or on their own
Project Completion

Carpentry tools in use

12 August 2021

The Malawian projects benefiting from our tools are as follows:

YOHAD (Youth Organization for Health and Development)  - established in 2008 by youth in Salima District to contribute toward the reduction of new HIV infection, mental health illnesses, gender inequality, social and economic injustices.

FESODEV (Foundation For Education and Social Development) - assisting underprivileged and disadvantaged people by introducing initiatives that lead to poverty reduction and a sense of independence. Tools for Self Reliance supports their programme of improving the skills and knowledge of existing trade groups.

LYO (Lilongwe Youth Organisation) – Striving to empower youth and women using free education, vocational skills training and financial literacy training in Kauma. Natalya's Fund also helped LYO start a soap-manufacturing business - see here.

NYO (Nkhotakota Youth Organisation) –  a youth-run NGO, non-profit making and non-partisan, that was formed in 1997 to improve the welfare of the youth and society at large.

FOCCAD (Foundation for Community and Capacity Development) - alleviating human suffering from disease, hunger, poverty and social injustice in Malawi by creating and implementing participatory and sustainable solutions.

Andrew, a graduate of LYO's training centre, explains from his own workshop in Kauma, Lilongwe, how the tools have helped his business

Shipping Updates


19 March 2021

The shipment containing our carpentry tools arrived in Blantyre and was unloaded; the kits have now been picked up by the various organisations they were intended for.

3 February 2021

The container had been loaded at London Gateway in the UK onto the MSC Sindy. It was unloaded at the port of Nacala in Mozambique and has now been cleared from there and is on its way by road to Blantyre. It is expected to arrive in Blantyre in the next two weeks.

Those of you who are interested in such things can see a photo of the vessel here.

19 January 2021

Our shipping container it is currently in transit and is due to arrive in Mozambique at the end of January, from where it will be transported by land to Blantyre, Malawi.

Refurbished tools for youth training and business start-up

Just a thought ... if you have any tools you no longer need, don't throw them into landfill or even recycle them.

If you can keep them for a while until we are over the worst of Covid-19, donate them to Tools for Self Reliance, where they can be refurbished and sent to people who will really value them. Here's how.

Tools Despatched!

All the carpentry tools for Malawi have now been despatched

25 November 2020

Last Tuesday morning (17th) our 76 kits of pre-loved carpentry tools began their journey from the warehouse of Tools for Self-Reliance, near Southampton, to Malawi. These kits will equip two training centres and also help around 290 young people start up in business. The kits should arrive by Christmas - a wonderful present from you, our supporters!


Inevitably the initial schedule had had to be set aside because of Covid restrictions but, after re-planning, the volunteers managed to complete their work well ahead of the new schedule.


The double-sized, 40-foot container (see photos) contains altogether 386 kits for various trades, comprising a total of 13,240 refurbished tools. For more details see here.


Well done to the volunteers at Tools for Self-Reliance for their amazing work!

Coronavirus Update

October 2020

The Tools for Self Reliance workshop is getting back to some sort of normality.

Many of their volunteers are older people and are still isolating so, even though the workshop has now re-opened, they are not fully operational quite yet. However, they are progressing with shipments.

At the moment they are on schedule to send our shipment in the second week of December at the latest, and that takes into account the possibility of short lockdowns and more volunteers isolating as we get further into winter, so they are confident it won’t be any later than that.

Please see the video clip of a typical picking operation at the bottom of this page.

Target Met

All the carpentry tools for Malawi, including shipping, have now been paid for

May 2020

Many thanks to our generous supporters, who have enabled us to pay for all the carpentry tools in the consignment for Malawi, plus shipping, thereby completing the work started in memory of Bob Cook. This latest appeal raised £1,726.45, just exceeding our target of £1,714.


The total raised, i.e. that in memory of Bob, plus the Count Your Blessings appeal, was £3,120. It will pay for the following:

  • two large training-centre kits @ £86 each = £172

  • six kits for larger groups (approx. 8 people) @ £41 each = £246

  • 50 kits for 'standard' groups (3-6 people) @ £27 each = £1,350

  • 18 solo kits @ £14 each = £252

  • shipping for all the above = £1,100

The shipment will unfortunately be delayed because the UK lockdown is currently preventing the refurbishment of tools. Most of the staff of Tools for Self-Reliance are on furlough, although in the next month some may return to the office partially. Of their volunteers, many are older with medical conditions and may be isolating for an extended period. However, they are very keen to resume work, so to enable that to happen the charity is looking at putting in place a click-and-collect system for volunteers to come and collect refurbishment projects! In Malawi the projects are currently on hold and, because (as in many countries) official data doesn’t match with anecdotal reports there, it is challenging for partners on the ground to make a decision about re-opening projects. At the moment, they are erring on the side of caution, with continuous review.

Despatch tools UK to Malawi youth training start-up

(c) Tools for Self-Reliance

Shipment for Malawi outside the TSR warehouse, ready to go!

Shipping container tools UK to Malawi for youth training and start-up

(c) Tools for Self-Reliance

Our carpentry tools are in there somewhere!

carpenters tools, malawi

Update: Coronavirus - How it Affects this Project

26 March 2020

At the moment there are no reported cases in Malawi, although there are limitations on public events, and programmes are still running with tightened hygiene practices. However, Tools for Self-Reliance (TSR) is preparing for the situation to change, and anticipates that the programmes we are supporting will be delayed.


The shipment to Malawi will still go ahead this year, in preparation for the programmes. However it will be delayed, as the TSR workshop in the UK is currently closed.  It is hoped that it will be able to leave in June, but of course that depends on how the global situation develops.


You can be assured that all funds already raised, and the funds being raised through Count Your Blessings, will be used in exactly the ways described above. There will however be an unavoidable delay because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Female carpenter, Malawi.

Traditional version (PDF)

Spreadsheet version (Excel)

Project Launched

February 2020

In memory of Bob Cook, the late father of our trustee, Chris, we have just arranged with Tools for Self-Reliance to provide kits of refurbished carpentry tools to five locations in Malawi. These will be used to give vocational training to young people. Bob loved working with wood and produced impressive results, like making a wardrobe smaller by cutting out some of the middle and joining the two halves back together again - seamlessly! As the projects progress we will be able to share photos and updates on the kits in use.

The kits will be assembled in the UK from second-hand tools sourced here and refurbished by volunteers, and then shipped to Malawi.

We have agreed a grant of £1,406, made up as follows:

  •    £172 for two training centre kits

  •    £246 for six larger kits, for groups of about eight people

  •    £324 for 12 standard kits, for groups of three to six

  •    £168 for 12 solo kits

  •    £496 to pay for their transportation to the locations in Malawi

Count Your Blessings

To raise more funds and provide even more kits for Malawi, we’re using an idea which we’ve used before, called ‘Count Your Blessings’. To start with you download our Lenten calendar (see below). The idea is that for each day in Lent you look at this calendar and count up the items it tells you to count. It may be planes, saws, or DIY projects completed. These are all things we can be thankful for, and we can easily take them for granted. So it is, quite literally, counting your blessings. Once you’ve counted the items, you pay a small sum per item into a pot, or write the figure on the calendar. On the calendar there is a suggestion of how much to put in per item. It is great for kids (and for grown up kids)! Finally, at Easter you pass the money to Natalya’s Fund - you can use the Donate page - where it will be used to provide tools and training to underprivileged young people in Malawi. Please ensure we get your donation by 16 May.


There are two versions of the calendar:

  • a traditional version in PDF, which you can print out and put on your notice board, which also has a space for you to enter your figures for each day, and

  • a spreadsheet in Excel, which does the arithmetic for you - intended for use on screen with a desktop or laptop computer. (To enter figures you'll need to click on 'Enable Editing'.)

graduate carpenter malawi tool kit

Why not source in Malawi and support the local economy?

Tools in Africa tend to be of poor quality and expensive. Often, if there is a metal part in something, it is found to be made of plastic and sprayed silver!  Tools for Self-Reliance does source agricultural tools in Africa, as tools donated here tend to be for gardening rather than agriculture.  There are blacksmiths working in Africa and they employ them to make agricultural tools.

Will the tools safely get to where they're required? Can hidden costs be incurred?

Tools for Self-Reliance uses a clearing organization and has never had a problem with items not reaching their destination, or with hidden costs.

This video clip (c) Tools for Self-Reliance. It shows a typical picking operation from their warehouse.

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