We are currently in urgent need of funding to construct the permanent facilities at our new location. This is critical before the rainy season begins and also because our community is growing too big for our small climbing wall!
In addition to climbing, we have plans to add other forms of fitness including cycling, hiking, yoga, and even self-defense. We will offer members access to resources that are hard for many average Malawians to access such as newspapers (for job listings), a small library, computer/internet access, and workshops offered by partner organizations. All of our decisions are made jointly by a jointly-led foreigner and Malawian team—we don’t want to be another typical NGO coming in and changing a community from the outside. Climb Malawi has been registered as a Malawian non-profit and NGO, and is partnering with other organizations both local (Malawi Mentors, Young Farmers Incubator, etc.) and international (The Climbing Initiative) to support programs in youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, entrepreneurial training, permaculture training, etc.
At the center of our approach is a policy that no one is turned away for inability to pay. We have suggested donation amounts for drop-ins and monthly memberships, plus a volunteer program where those without money contribute to our community in various ways (e.g. building our latrine, landscaping, volunteering at festivals, etc.). Through this model, we’ve been able to achieve monthly membership donations in excess of $400 in our first month and have a dozen volunteers helping to turn what was a bare plot into a beautiful community centre. More importantly, we have created a diverse community with people of all socio-economic backgrounds and an incredible environment (see testimonials below) where all are equals.
For more information visit our website: climbmalawi.com
Our community is deriving more benefits already from our activities than I can enumerate here, but there are a few critical benefits I would like to highlight. Firstly, there are extremely limited options for recreation in Malawi, especially for the average Malawian living on a couple of dollars per day. Recreation is extremely important for youth development, psychological health, and personal growth. Secondly, the significant wealth inequality that exists here means society is highly stratified based on income. By creating a space where all contribute according to their own means and all are equally challenged by the rock climbing,we are building bridges in a way I have yet to see elsewhere in over a year in Malawi. In fact, we routinely see the normal power dynamic inverted with poor Malawian farmers teaching new skills to wealthy American doctors and NGO workers. Both foreigners and locals view this as an incredible benefit as many struggle to build genuine relationships. Additionally, the friendships and community create opportunities for sharing new ideas and perspectives, which is so sorely needed in a country where, for many, computer and internet access is almost non-existent, books are scarce , and even newspapers are an expensive luxury. Lastly, having participated in many sports over the years, I find rock climbing unique in how it empowers people. Every climb is an opportunity to face your fears, your doubts, and to do something that feels impossible. And as we rise to the challenge, cheered on by an incredibly supportive community, we achieve what felt “impossible” – and do this again and again.
Our model takes into account the unique context of Malawi - a diverse population that includes the affluent as well as the average Malawian living on only a few dollars a day. Membership fees will be a suggestion only and no one will be turned away for inability to pay. Even still, for many the cost of a roundtrip bus ride can wipe out 1/3 of the $4-5 they earn each day. To tackle this barrier we intend to operate a free minibus shuttle during peak times that will collect people throughout the city and bring them to the wall.
But we need your help to make this facility and our vision of a larger community a reality. Our climbing community is already big enough to sustain operational costs but we need capital to build. Our real estate search and facility designing are ongoing but we have approximate cost estimates. The first portion of money we raise will go to purchasing a plot. After that we will use money raised to build the foundations and exterior structure, followed by the climbing wall itself and pads. Additional money will be utilized to purchase and ship climbing shoes and additional holds and bolts. We are currently utilizing donated old rental shoes and climbing holds that I personally purchased to provide the minimum we would need.
Milestone 1 - Plot of land: US$10,000
Milestone 2 - Facility constructions: US$20,000-$30,000
Milestone 3 - Additional climbing shoes, holds, and bolts: US$15,000
We will also be pursuing corporate sponsorship and grant funding in parallel to achieve our financial needs.
At the end of April, 2019 we were asked to find a new location for the climbing wall. We acted quickly and through our GoFundMe campaign we raised US$10,000, which enabled us to register as a Malawian NGO and buy a plot of land where we are building our community. Using a combination of small donations from our members as well as our volunteer program, we have been able to do many site improvements including constructing a latrine, applying for water and power, and building drainage to protect us from the rainy season. We are currently offering climbing seven days a week including two women-only sessions and two kid and beginner-friendly sessions.
For more information visit our website: climbmalawi.com
About the team:
Tyler Algeo M.Eng, B.ASc. - Founder
Tyler Algeo is the driving force being Climb Malawi. Tyler is a Canadian engineer living in Malawi and currently consulting in the water and sanitation sector. From granite trad climbing in Squamish, British Columbia to sport climbs on steep sandstone in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky - boulders in Hueco Tanks, Texas and Fontainebleau, France – Tyler loves all forms of climbing. Tyler greatly values how climbing can be used to build community among people with very diverse backgrounds and he enjoys fostering and mentoring newer climbers. Tyler is excited to explore more of mountains in Malawi and establish new boulder problems, sport climbs, and trad climbs in Malawi. Tyler Algeo is a consultant in the water and sanitation sector supporting investors, corporations, start-ups, social enterprises, and NGO's.
Jotex Kunkhongo– Executive Director
Jotex is an educator and also founder of one of our partner organizations - the Young Farmers Incubator, an NGO that empowers youth with agricultural training. Jotex has become a passionate climber and leader amongst our Malawian climbing community and believes strongly in the potential for climbing to change the lives of Malawians
Rose Sulentic, MPH – Chief Grant Writer, Women’s Program Lead
Rose is a research fellow with Baylor College of Medicine at the Area 25 Health Centre in Lilongwe and passionate about mentoring the next generation of female crushers.