Sunday, November 29, 2009

Community Resource Center

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Here is the front of the house before we began work. It was government housing for a verterinary technician who moved a while back.

This is the back of the building. We can re-used the iron sheets on the roof but will need 7 new ones.

A crew is heading into the forest to cut poles for the rafters.

We cut trees of the right size. . .

. . . cut them to length. . .

. . . and peel off the bark.

At the site we dig dimba sand which is a mixture of clay and sand.

This is mixed with clean sand, which is found right at the site, and portland cement to make mortar.

Water is added, it's mixed, and it's ready to use. The wall the woman is sitting on is the new front wall that was built during our last work session.

Johanne Banda is fitting a new window frame which we made the day before.

Construction materials and methods are primitive by US standards but they use local materials and it's cheap and it works.

Willie is working on another part of the wall filling in where there was a window. The walls will be plastered.

If you want to contribute to this project select this button. It is safe and secure through PayPal and the money comes right to me:

Thanksgiving at the Ambassador's

The US Ambassador hosted a party for Peace Corps volunteers on Saturday at his residence. Beginning on Friday there was a lot of cooking and preparations. We had to prepare all the food except the meat.

There were about 150 people so we needed a lot of everything.

On the left is Peter Bodde, the ambassador. He is very knowledable and qualified and works very hard to bring smart development to Malawi. Ambassadors serve for 3 years.

The residence is big an very nice. They have to do a lot of functions and official entertainment. Two pigs were roasted by the staff.

The food line. That's the ambassador's wife on the left.

Some of us busy eating.

We also got to use the pool.

Everyone had a good time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Bull Has Arrived!

October 20 the bull arrived! We were very excited. He is already on the job as the cows came into heat several days after he got here.

Select this link: Friends of Mikolongwe to see the photos.

Choir Sunday

Religion and church are a big part of life in Malawi, especially the villages. In my area the churches are christian. Unfortunately it is used by many churches to extract money from the already dirt-poor villagers for church projects. Sometimes it is worthwhile, like orphan care, but often it is for grand buildings, vehicles for church ministers and officials as well as salaries and pensions for ministers who are relativley well off. The church does not really contribute anything back to the village in terms of development or improving lives. If as much energy went into development as church fund-raising it could make a difference.

Be that as it may, there are revivals and choir sundays such as this. Several choirs came from other churches to sing and pray.

Here is the night watchman from the compound I live in (he watches the cows) all dressed up for Sunday.

More attentive listeners.

My friend Cosmas.

Church elders.

The local choir.

Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Environment Africa Launch

Barbara Banda, in center, has family in my village. Where ever you go you still return to your home village for visits and to be buried when you die. She has been educated in the west and is now country director of Environment Africa.

Environment Africa is concerned with environmental issues which are huge in Malawi. Environment issues are just not high on the list of priorities of a country so poor.

We organized into groups and spent a couple of hours walking through Lilongwe picking up trash and talking to people about not using plastic.

Here is the chairman of the Lilongwe City Assembly with Barbara.

Barbara and I are working together on development issues in my village. Since she is in Lilongwe she needs someone like me who is in the village. We are establishing a library/resource center.

Mr Nyirenda is transferred

It was a bittersweet day. McFarlan Nyrienda, my counterpart and best friend, was transferred to Waliranji. It was good for him because it was a promotion and Waliranji has electricity and is on a paved road, but I was sad to see him go because we did a lot together. On the other hand it will open up new opportunities to meet new people and do new things for me.

What a jumble!

Mrs Nyirenda in a pensive moment. They have been here 8 years and she is a teacher in the primary school.

Wife and kids in the cab.

Men on top and off they go!

Onion Harvest

It's time for harvesting onions.

All the work is done by hand.

The onions are loaded into "cow-carts". Most will be transported to the nearby market in Chipata, Zambia.

In this village the tops are being trimmed and the onions are being tied into bundles.

Halloween in Chitipa

We had a big Halloween party in the north of Malawi - Chitipa. For me it was a 3-day trip but I saw a lot of different terrain and scenery.
It's amazing how similar Malawi is to parts of the western US like New Mexico and northern California.

At the higher elevations there were pine trees and lumbering. All the work is done by hand - including sawing the boards! That tent-like structure on the left side of the photo is someones house.
Some more housing of lumber workers. Probably a lot of these people live somewhere else and come here to work for periods of time.

Hand-sawed lumber stacked to dry.

Here is one of the mini-buses I rode in. It is actually a lot more beat up than it appears.

This is a scenic view of Lake Malawi from high up.

The party started at a Peace Corps volunteer's house and then moved to the home of 2 VOS volunteers from Britain. VOS is the British version of Peace Corps.

There were some very creative costumes - remember Ziggy Stardust?

Eat, drink and be merry. Sometimes we just have to escape from Malawi.

Great fun was had by all.

Except grandmaw!

Here I am as Blake Fielder-Civil with my ex, Amy Winehouse.


Even though it is just little bits of electricity flying through the ether the contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps.