Can a pre-loved book support a Malawian family?
Surprisingly, a humble, well-thumbed old book from the UK can, but not before a whole lot of effort has been made by the small but wonderful team at PAMET Malawi.
PAMET (paper making education trust) is a women’s cooperative in Chilomoni, a township in Malawi. Cycle of Good has been aware of their amazing recycling work for a number of years as they are just across the road from ‘Bee Books’ one of many Beehive social enterprises in the area set up by our charity Krizevac.
Back in the UK, an army of volunteers send us box loads of books all year round. Once sorted, these books are shipped to Malawi along with our donated bikes, school equipment and of course, old inner tubes and lorry curtain for recycling into Cycle of Good tailored products. Over the years we’ve amassed over 1 million books, which on arrival in Chilomoni are sorted and distributed. We’ve filled 10 libraries in Malawi schools, and created a brand-new library in our children’s centre full of educational books. Surplus is then sold at Beebooks to generate income ploughed back into the social enterprise.
Despite book sorting before leaving the UK, the odd ’AA guide to Cornwall’ or ’20 best British Country pubs’ makes it through and as much as this was once no doubt a cherished book in the UK, it is not much use if you live in Chilomoni!
Led by a resourceful and determined lady called Trintas, who are innovative recyclers and take old books, utilising local waste via old magazines and office paper scrap (with a little elephant dung and banana leaf thrown in) to ingeniously create notepads, greetings cards and even fire briquettes. They make the pulp, hand press into paper which is left to dry in the Malawian sunshine from which their products are made. This recycling initiative provides Trintas’ small team with an essential income to support their families
Rewind to 2019, PAMET were selling these recycled products directly to the large number of passing tourists from the million or so people arriving in Malawi every year. Business was brisk and PAMET gifts were supplied as an eco-souvenir to many visitors. Then Covid-19 hit and the tourism industry all but dried up and with no sustainable income, their livelihood was under serious threat.
Cycle of Good felt we could lend a valuable helping hand to the situation, whilst also enabling us to go ‘all-out’ with their brilliant and unique products! We swiftly placed an order for what would amount to around 6 months’ worth of lost tourist sales and promptly included PAMET to our product range alongside our Cycle of Good products, also made from recycled materials!
We are totally in love with their work and the products they make, and we hope that you do too. Who knows, you may even pick up a greetings card which might have a little heart design cut-out made from a medical textbook or a romance novel. We think these random little extracts make for a bit of fun as you never know what each shape will say!
Recycled, Fairly Traded Greetings Cards- Hearts or Stars (set of 5)