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Malawi: guitar-maker sells his instruments online from refugee camp
20 April 2016

Patron Palushang Bin Kilangana with two of his handmade guitars. (Gushwell F Brooks / Jesuit Refugee Service)
Patron is a talented musician as well as a carpenter and craftsman. However, his true success is that despite the fact that he is limited to the confines of a refugee camp and has access to limited resources, he has managed to set up a global business.

Dzaleka, 20 April 2016 – The craftsmanship that goes into making a guitar is immeasurable. Not only should the guitar maker be able to craft an object of beauty from wood, but the guitar maker should also ensure that the instrument is pleasing to the ear. But even if someone has these skills, the guitar maker has to sell these handcrafted instruments. Despite numerous barriers, Patron Palushang Bin Kilangana, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), currently residing in Dzaleka camp in Malawi was able to do just that.

Patron is a talented musician as well as a carpenter and craftsman. However, his true success is that despite the fact that he is limited to the confines of a refugee camp and has access to limited resources, he has managed to set up a global business.

Without a bank account, without being able to conduct his business freely outside of Dzaleka refugee camp, and without the resources to set up a state of the art, flashy website, Patron has nonetheless managed to sell his guitars in places as far away as Norway, Ireland, USA and within and around the camp.

The simplicity of a social media page, the local postal and mailing system as well as hand tools are the simple implements of Patron's trade. He agrees; had it not been for the political persecution he fled from his home country, with greater freedom, he would have been a massive commercial success. He is driven and resourceful however. 

Patron completed the Jesuit Refugee Service / Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JRS-JC:HEM) Community Service learning Track in Community Counselling. JRS is fortunate to be working with someone like patron that epitomises the resilience of the human spirit.

Patron has achieved a lot with very little, and below follows his account of what guitar making has meant to him:


--Gushwell Brooks, JRS Southern Africa Communications Officer


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