The Joe Martin Skills Training Center
Bangula, Malawi, Africa
The Skills Training Center has been named in honor of Joe Martin, a former executive with Toromont CAT in Toronto who traveled to Malawi numerous times during his retirement years and was an inspiration for the initiative. Malawi, Africa is among the poorest countries in the world. The Skills Training Center will address poverty in a meaningful way by providing much needed trade skills. Employment prospects for the local youth should improve dramatically, facilitating local economic development for Malawi.
The JMSTC facility construction was completed in early 2016. It is located on the “Iris Base” near Bangula, a small village in rural Malawi.
The Iris Base was established by David and Joanna Morrison who left Oakville, ON 15 years ago. They have devoted their lives to developing the orphan children and youth of Bangula to become future leaders in Malawi. Over the past 15 years they have established an orphanage (which today numbers over 85 children/youth), a primary school - Grades 1 - 8, a church and Bible School, an agriculture program, a fish farm and a micro-loan seed program.
These initiatives are driven from a multi-building base established in Bangula. It is staffed by a mix of local Malawians and some Internationals. As many of the orphans are reaching high school age, David led a fund raising drive in Spring 2015 - DreamRiders.ca raising $200k + CDN to date. Funds raised are enabling economically disadvantaged youth from southern Malawi to attend boarding schools in the Blantyre area to achieve a high school diploma.
Bangula is located in the southern tip of Malawi. It is a lowland area along the Shire River as it winds its way to the Zambezi and then to the Indian Ocean. Over the years this area has suffered both floods and droughts making it a difficult place to live on subsistence agriculture. Nevertheless this remains the situation for many across the rural expanse of the Lower Shire Valley.
At the same time, large scale plantation agriculture, a relatively new highway and modern communication systems are changing the economic landscape along this rural corridor.
The JMSTC is a well-equipped multi-function facility with two classrooms attached to a  bay garage and wood workshop. Classrooms are equipped with desks, chairs and whiteboards. The garage and wood workshop are each equipped with workbenches and quality hand, electric and air tools. Compressed air, African 230V 50 Hz, and Canadian 110V 60 Hz electrical power are available throughout the facility. Additionally an open air building known as the ‘container shed’ rounds out the facility to provide covered space the diverse practical needs of the mission base.
At this point, trade teaching programs have been informal initiatives with development stakeholders providing teaching in specific areas that align with the developing skills of local Malawians. Long-term more formal training programs are expected but are not yet scheduled.
Over the last year an outside proponent has begun specific computer data training using the JMSTC classrooms as a staging facility toward a pending data project. This program holds the promise of providing young Malawians with marketable skills in the near term. While this programs is underway at the JMSTC Classrooms, it is expected to relocate to other premises as the program develops.
Donations raised for construction and ongoing operations to-date have been generously provided by individuals, Trusts and Companies. Spending on construction is complete. Development of tools and equipment in-hand is ongoing.
Ongoing training and operating costs are the focus of fund raising for 2018 and beyond. It is estimated at a minimum $200,000 CDN will be required during the next  years of operation.
Individuals interested in donating toward ongoing training operations are encouraged to use the ‘Donate Now’ link or contact the office as listed below.
Individuals interested in volunteering for short-term training assignments are encouraged to contact David Dyck or Jeff Hageman as listed in the contacts below.
Financial Donations: Empower Global
485 Kerr Street
Oakville, ON L6K 3C6
905 334 9595
Project Information & Training Assignments:
David Dyck Jeff Hageman
905 337 3197 905 407 1044
905 849 8540
*An approved project of Empower Global Inc.
A registered Canadian Charity (BN: 81547 5827 RR0001)