Malawi: Tools for Self-Reliance

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

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.

carpenters kit, malawi
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.

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.


All images on this page (c) Tools for Self-Reliance. They show their current work in Malawi. The money we are raising will expand this work, and photos showing the kits we provide will be uploaded when available.

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 needy youngsters 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.

Pick & pack refurbished tools for Africa

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

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01633 889028

(+44 from abroad)


Redwick House, Green Street, Redwick, Newport, NP26 3DY, UK

UK registered charity no. 1042890

© Natalya's Fund 2020

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