Thyolo Youth Centre - Malawi




AWF has designed a Youth Training Centre and Community Library in Thyolo, Malawi (southern Africa) for Friends of Claude Ho in Thyolo Association (FOCHTA). It will be a purpose-built facility to provide education, counselling and other non-medical assistance to children orphaned by AIDS.

The Centre will provide training in trades such as carpentry, metalwork and tailoring, and serve as the administrative headquarters for FOCHTA’s other activities, which include: secondary school and university bursaries; a food program providing FOCHTA supported students with lunches and take home rations for siblings; counselling for children traumatised by the loss of parents to HIV/AIDS; micro-loans; and, a clothing and blanket program.


Friends of Claude Ho in Thyolo Association (FOCHTA), Lucenza, Malawi. FOCHTA’s charter is to assist children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in the district of Thyolo to gain an education, and give them a chance to escape the poverty cycle.

Project Partner


Project Leader

Sam Crawford

Project Team

Cressida BealeMiles HeineKen WarrAmy LeendersSarah PreslandTegan WaldrenTom Williams-Moore


Structural - Jamie Shelton, NorthropCivil - Ruth Kesterman – ARUPLandscaping - Sacha Coles, Aspect Studios

Commencement Date

January 2006

Background and Description

FOCHTA was founded by Sydney-based international photographer Claude Ho and two local Medecins Sans Frontiers staff in Malawi. In August 2006, Sam Crawford Architects and FOCHTA, with the assistance of AWF volunteers, hosted a cocktail party at the RAIA, Tusculum, Potts Point, to raise funds for the construction of the centre. More than AUS$120,000 was raised, just $5,000 shy of current construction cost projections. Other fundraising events have included ‘Many Faces – One World’, an exhibition of photographs by Claude Ho 25 November 2006 at the Newport Artworks Gallery (For more information go to:


AWF began preparing detailed construction drawings for the Centre in October 2006. During November 2006, volunteers – children supported by FOCHTA in Malawi – began making sun-dried lime stabilised blocks from clay and sand found on the site in preparation for construction to begin in February 2007. Unfortunately, in Jan 2007 Fochta’s title over proposed construction site (land donated by the Thyolo Local Assembly) was put in doubt. FOCHTA then sought and found a more suitable parcel of land, and began the process of securing Leasehold Title (most land is Traditional Title upon which institutions can not build). In Aug 2008 project leader Sam Crawford visited Malawi to assist in surveying of the new site. On Sam’s recommendation, FOCHTA is now in the process of purchasing additional land appropriate to the scale of the project adjacent to the plot purchase last year (which is too small for their purposes). They are also negotiating to have a 3_Phase power line that currently bisects the site to be moved




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