Monday was our first day in the community. Daniel (our NGO) picked us up at 9:34 sharp and took us to the AFES office. There we met our translators and AFES contacts; Paul and Shikira (
On our way into the community, Paul said we needed to pick up Fanta to present to the chief at our meeting with the counsel. I thought I'd misheard, so I turned to Conner and he said he heard the same thing. Sure enough, on our way to Kumponda we stopped at a small shop and picked up a case of soda.
When we arrived at the community (half an hour late) much of the counsel was waiting for us. In Malawi, the custom is to greet everyone individually by saying "Muli bwanji" (how are you) and they respond "Ndiri bwino" (I'm fine). So we spent the next few minutes greeting everyone and having our pronunciation and mistakes cause bursts of laughter. Once everyone was seated, the chief came out and we had to do the greeting again. The meeting went fairly well; they were happy to have EWB back in the community, but they thought we were going to implement and were disappointed it was just an assessment trip. They seemed to understand, though, when we told them we need more information before we can implement any projects.
After this meeting we headed back to the apartment to wait for Daniel to return from his workshop. When he arrived we filled him in on how the meeting went and he reassured us it was all good. Then we told him we needed to convert our money into local Kwatcha so we could pay our driver (to the community) and buy things we need. We all piled in Daniel's car and he took us to the bank. Unfortunately the bank had closed at 3, so Daniel says we'll have to exchange our money on the black market. We turn the corner from the bank and stop. Two guys immediately come up to the car and ask how much we want to trade. We try to trade small bills, but they say they only want bills over $20. Then we pull out a $100, but it is a pre-2007 note, which apparently isn't accepted in much of Africa because they're easy to counterfeit. Finally we pull out a new hundred and the guys get excited and give us the Kwatcha. Once we had money we were able to buy simcards and minutes to make our phone usable and get on the internet with the laptop.
The next day (today) Paul picked us up at 9 to head back into the community. We were going to see a local reservoir that we might be able to use for the irrigation project. On the way there we stopped next to the village school and we rushed by a mob of excited kids. We took their pictures and showed them and they loved it.
We continued on to the reservoir and talked to one of the chief's representatives. It was a long, hot hike out there and when we arrived we saw kids jumping into the water and swimming around. I'm sure we all wished we could join them, but instead we asked the representative about the history and workings of the reservoir. We also talked to a few local families about their farms and water usage. This gave us some good information and ideas we can put towards the irrigation project in the future
It's getting late and I'm still not completely used to the time change, so that's all for now.