Project development

How high have the trees grown! March 2021

In midsummer 2019, we planted trees together with the children and youth of Kasungu, Malawi, on the plot of the future youth center. In our archive you will find the article, which is combined with all pictures.

Two years have now passed and we can report with pleasure: The project was a complete success! The result is amazing. It is unbelievable to see how fast the acacia trees and the fruits like mango or bananas have grown. This could only come to fruition because of the weekly watering by the community. Without them, the trees would not have survived the dry season. While in 2019 the plot consisted almost only of red soil and only the first leaves of the planted trees were seen, today the trees are already 1-1.5 meters high.

Through the successful and long-term cooperation, the trust and communication has even become stronger. We thank our charitable partner organization "Shorten the Distance Kasungu" and the residents for taking care of the trees and fruits. We are able to coordinate and organize all our projects with our charitable partner organization: When we asked them years ago what the biggest problem was, they answered the lack of pure drinking water. We built a well together with them and planted trees around this well. In return, they agreed to go to the property every day to water the trees. Our projects are based on the wishes of the community and they are also carried out by them. We all sincerely hope that the current situation regarding the pandemic will improve soon, so that next year we can finally start our biggest project so far, the construction of a youth center. Until then, we are in close contact with the community of the village to make sure that they have the necessary means to survive this pandemic without major losses.

Distribution of hygiene articles in three villages - July 2020

Successful, but also exhausting was the long day of our partner organisation "Shorten the Distance Malawi". In cooperation with the "Kasungu Municipal Council", the partner organisation has carried out educational work on Covid-19 in three remote villages of Kasungu in order to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants.

Fully loaded with boxes filled with soap, self-made masks made of traditional Chitenge material and several water pails with a tap, they drove to Chilinga, Chiuno and Dani Village. There they were warmly welcomed and greeted with a prayer by the chiefs. The Chiefs were very grateful for the distribution of hygiene articles in their villages.

Not only the distribution of soaps, masks and water pails was important for our partner organisation, but even more the imparting of knowledge and the demonstration of the correct application. With a water pail and soap they demonstrated to the inhabitants, how to wash their hands thoroughly or which areas they have to pay most attention too. Flyers about hygiene measures were also distributed. They also showed and explained how to put on the mask sensibly and how to use it again after washing.

t took a lot of preparation time and organisation to make this day happen and we are very happy that it worked and we are very proud of our partner.

Although the situation in Malawi regarding the corona pandemic is not yet serious, cases of Covid19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) are tending to increase. The poverty line in Malawi is very high and people live from hand to mouth, which further aggravates the situation. It is estimated that the number of unreported cases is probably much higher. So today it is more important than ever, that we should help and support each other. Be a apart of Shorten the Distance and help us with your donation to obtain the necessary funds.

LoNam Magazin - Februar/März 2020

Trees for the future! July 2019

In summer 2019 we, Jacob and Mareike, spent 2 weeks in Kasungu to work on the project "ShortenThe Distance".

A lot of time has been spent working on the establishment of the NGO “Shorten The Distance”, but we nevertheless wanted to use our time there to start a small project in the meantime.

Together with the people of Kasungu, we decided to plant trees on the property of the future youth center of “Shorten The Distance”. We planted a total of 36 different trees, including fruits such as mango, papayas and bananas. We achieved this project together with many kids and also older people from the village and managed to create our first garden on the property.

While the adults dug holes for the trees with a hoe and fetched water from the well, the children planted and watered the trees.

In the future, they should serve as wind protection for the youth center and at the same time create a pleasant, shady place for outdoor activities.

Each child planted their own tree and gave it a name. It was nice seeing how much joy the kids had while doing this. This created a personal connection to the project, which is very important to us personally.

Trees, like children and adolescence, need resources, security and time to grow. Since there is a very intense dry season in Malawi at the end of July and beginning of August, the residents have agreed to water the trees every morning. This is a very important step for both the kids and the adults to see this place as a future meeting place.

The importance of self-sufficiency: healthy food for all of us! 01-2019

The three-month rain season in Malawi is ideal for the residents of Chiuno Village to plant their food. Self-sufficiency is an important issue that we want to achieve together with the residents in order to achieve and maintain a healthy diet, independently of others. Ecological gardening has already started: in order to make the best possible use of the water well that was built last summer, the gardens were planted right next to it in order to be able to work efficiently and quick and to avoid long distances. The first food that was planted were soy beans, peanuts and corn.

As a precaution against flooding of the gardens and to make sure that the precious soil and rainwater won’t be lost, the inhabitants of chiuno village planted vetiver grass around the gardens.

Further vegetable growing is already planned!

The first step has been taken: both wells are up and working! 10-2018

The whole project began a few years ago with an idea: to give the residents of Chiuno Village, a small village in Malawi, access to fresh water- for the first time in 30 years. After Jacob Gondwe-Köttner, the founder of Shorten The Distance, helped building the first well in Malawi in summer 2018, the second well was completed in October. And the most important aspect? The residents of Chiuno Village completed this project on their own! And this reflects our plan: helping people to help themselves.

During the summer, with the support of a water engineer from the Senior Expert Service (SES), we showed the men and women there how to build a well, install the pump, etc. With this help, they finished the second well themselves, because the villagers are committed and fight for their survival and their well-being!

This has completely changed the everyday life of the people in Chiuno Village: they have more time for their children and furthermore better conditions for their health have been created, as they no longer have to consume the water that is polluted by the nearby hospital, which often leads to diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria.We are very happy that this project has been completed, but this is just the beginning.

Many projects are still ahead, including creating a permaculture to give the people access to healthier and fresher food. The ultimate goal is to build a youth center to give the many talented children and young people the opportunity for new perspectives and better support. Self-sufficiency plays a very important role in Malawi and we want to achieve that.

Here you can find an article about our project Shorten The Distance in Malawi from the Berliner Zeitung.

Berliner Newspaper - August 2018

The first water well - August 2018

Since 1997 the residents of Chiuno Village have been drinking polluted water from the river. As the river flows along the hospital that was built at the time, sewage and chemicals get into the river. Until now, residents had to either carry clean drinking water from afar or boil the polluted water. This work was often done by women or even children who were supposed to be in school at that time.

Now the situation has improved significantly! With the support of Shorten The Distance and a water engineer from the Senior Expert Service (SES), the residents built a 7 meter deep well with a hand pump.

This provides them with clean drinking water without walking far distances- they shortened the distance!Even the children feel more inclined to drink water now. We thank everyone who has supported our work with their donations. We can only continue our work in Kasungu and realize other projects with the help of your donations.

The first visit to Kasungu – July 2018

After arrival, we were welcomed with open arms by the District Commissioner and the residents of Chiuno Village! Nonetheless, we had some bureaucratic tasks to do in the first week. The water-well constructions in Chiuno Village is going very well so far, but of course there is still a lot to do! Many big and hard rocks in the ground are very difficult to remove with the simple tools they got there, therefore we are now waiting for the help of our cooperation partners from Yoow and Senior Expert Service from Germany.

Start of the water-well construction - May 2018

Despite the intense heat, the residents of Chiuno Village have already reached the groundwater after digging 3 meters deep.

They have achieved this with their bare hands and very simple tools, but there are still 5 more meters left and we keep bumping into rocks, and we are now missing important materials to continue our work. The well should be 8 meters in the end - and for this we need good tools to finalize our project as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Cooperation with YOOW e.V. in April 2018

On April 13th we concluded an agreement: YOOW will supply the water-wells built in Malawi with pumps, provide a training expert and will help acquiring donations for start-up financing of the youth center. In addition to the project preparations, we are currently also planning the culture and training center.

At the moment, the rural population in Chiuno Village is dependent on walking several kilometers to get drinking water. This is how the current situation looks like without water pumps.

Acquisition of land in February 2017

With all my savings in my pocket, I got on the plane at the beginning of February 2017: I really wanted to buy the property my grandparents and friends had chosen for our project. On February 10th, 2017 the time had come: after a solemn act by the chief (village elderly and mayor), I received a certificate that would probably not impress a German official, but it matters a lot to me and the people of my homecountry.

Jacob Gondwe-Köttner, Initiator

Certificate of land acquisition for the youth center in Kasungu 

Foundation of the association - October 2015

The idea was born in 2013 and 2 years later, the association was founded. Many conversations and questions preceded this, which were really important for forming the group. Now we have a well-coordinated team in Kasungu that is looking forward to the project and is making all the preparations. The detailed foundation report from the 15th october, 2015 can be seen at the bottom. On the picture you see the team of our project in Malawi.

The founding team of the Shorten the Distance CBO in Chiuno Village on 25.10.2015 (see below).

The history

The often precarious situation for children (and adults) in my home country touched me, and it was especially sad to see all the creative potential and drive that the kids and adolescence had, as they missed the possibilities to work on them

In 2013, the initiator of the project Jacob Gondwe-Köttner, who is also known as rapper JMC skyred, visited his hometown Kasungu (Malawi) and met many talented young people on the street who played music, freestyled, rapped and danced. Out of the desire to support the young people in Kasungu, he started a small project with them. This resulted in the song "Never let you go", for which a music video was shot in an abandoned chicken coop.

Born from a spontaneous project: this song has already been broadcasted by several radio stations.


Be smart,  Shorten the Distance

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