Visit to projects east of Blantyre - Mulanje

Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
Trip End Oct 06, 2010

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Where I stayed
Highland Shire Hotel

Flag of Malawi  ,
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The cars we have are the Toyotoa Ipsum which has 192,000 km on it and the Toyota Carina.

Yesterday was a big day in photography. We ran out of battery on the Nikon, down to 1 minute on the video camera  OK on the Canon G10

Yamikani, Lewis and Elifazi Salawila came about 9:00 and we headed out to Mulanje….out towards Mozambique.  Last October we put in a borehole to serve a community that is about one and a half miles off the road.  This well was sponsored in large part by the Home Church of God in Portland, Oregon.  It was a joy to see this well working and people coming continuously to it.  The women took turns pumping the well and helping one another placing five gallon buckets of water on each other's heads.

We were invited into the home of Ken and Mary Maere.  He has been given a grant to start a small grocery in the same place where the well is.  This will save the people a long walk to the main highway and he can have salt, soap, paraffin, cooking oil, matches, cell air time, sweets, biscuits and soft drinks available.  Of course, there is no electricity here and it's very primitive.  The money that we gave for the grocery has been more into the building where intends to move into, but we’re still pleased with the diligence.  Sometimes it’s difficult for us to manage things perfectly from 8200 miles away. Again, Bev and I are very pleased and encouraged by almost every project that we have seen.  This is a contrast from two years ago when it seemed that the little enterprises really had a hard time taking off. 

We sat in the house and talked to Ken and Mary.  In walked his mother-in-law Dinah.  Also, other neigbbors one by one.  They all come to us, kneel and shake our hand in a kind and gentle way.  It is so sweet. Truly the warm heart of Africa.  They come with a statement "Muli Bwanji" which means “how are you? ”  Our proper response is “Zikomo” which Is thank you.  Ken M is a retired school teacher age 63 on a 9000 a month pension, (about $60). 

We spoke about the coming grocery and the need to keep good records.

There is still some work that needs to be done on the house. Cement has to be poured in two rooms and some plastering has to be done.

They had a poor harvest last year netting only seven  50 kg bags of maize.  He has six people to feed. They talked about how they cut costs.  For a long time they went without lunch to save expenses to continue their home/grocery construction project. 

They wanted to give us an entire bunch of bananas, but we refused.  They would ripen towards the end of the Feast of Tabernacles – and then what.  We told him to let it follow its course of growth and to use it for themselves….but we really appreciated the thought.  It takes bananas three months from flower to fruit and he had  banana trees all over his property. 

The mountain peaks outside Mulanje are spectacular as they rise sharply from the plateau.  The main peak in this ranges is Africa’s highest mountain after Mount Kilamanjaro. 

From Mulanje back to the Blantyre area and to Limbe.  As we drove out of Maere’s, smoke was coming out the dashboard.  No problem.  Yamikani took a screw driver and opened up the dash.  He then unplugged some wires from behind the cigarette lighter.  The smoke stopped.  No problem.  We drove to Limbe market where Hlupekile runs her lucrative shop in the busy Limbe Market.  She does real well.  She sells hair and cosmetic accessories.  She travels to Dar Es Salaam Tanzania to buy these goods wholesale for retail sale in Limbe. She was in good spirits and we’re glad to see several years after giving her a startup grant that she is doing so well.   She pays 4000 kw to rent the great space in the Limbe market. 

Then to lunch.  We went to our familiar Chichiri Mall into the food plaza and ate at the Mega Bite.  We enjoyed a relaxing conversation for an hour and a half.  The Salawila’s are always good company. 

Our last visit on this slightly shortened day was to Peter Kawinga.  We had boughten him a piece of land adjacent to his home to farm.  He grows four crops of cabbage a year.  We had also helped him get a gasoline pump but his hosing is so ragtag that using the gasoline pump will disintegrate the hosing.  He needs $300 to replace this.  He is adjacent to a stream which flows year-round and he gets the water from it.  He is now using the original treadle pump.  He works very hard and his crop really looks good.  He and Bev carried on an animated conversation and talked about cutworm and other problems.  Bev is an avid gardener.  He has an excellent spot to work in and great potential which is already being realized.   He is quite a character. 

Then we drove back to out hotel. 

Bev and I had a relaxing evening talking about all the things we saw and the people we talked to.  We are so pleased about the results. 

We called Agnes Phiri who along with her husband Mark we visit each time we come.  He was member of Parliament, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce .  He owns a poultery operation and the largest bus company in Malawi called AXA.   We hope to have dinner with them on our way back from the Lake as we travel from Blantyre to Lusaka for the Zambia part of the Feast of Tabernacles. 
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