For the entirety of this trip, we have been working with the development committee of Central Kumponda, close to where the chief lives. On the day before we left for home, we got the chance to talk with the chief and some members of two other communities – Kamwendo and Zwanya – within Kumponda Group Village.
Before we left, we gave Joseph a visit!
The chief and people of Kamwendo happened to be in Central Kumponda because the government was distributing subsidized fertilizer. The distribution occurred near committee chairman James Masamba’s house, so we invited the chief and others to discuss with us there.
From previous team trips, we knew that Kamwendo has a reservoir, which they use to farm fish. This allows the community to earn money at the local Lunzu market, just outside of Central Kumponda. In addition, Kamwendo has a beekeeping operation and sells honey at the market. The community said they are able to grow most of the food they need to survive, but the lack of rain in the past six years has cut their ability to grow enough maize to store for the dry season. The community has recently constructed a dam in Kamwendo, in hopes that water can be used for irrigation during the 8-month dry season.
The chief of Kamwendo asked us to provide cement and other supplies to help them finish their dam. We replied with an explanation of EWB and our focus on long-term solutions rather than short-term gifts. Every chief we talk with seems to expect our direct and short-term support, so we have been very careful about explaining our organization clearly and making only making promises we intend on keeping. The chief also said he has heard great things about the maize mill project, thanked us for the work we are doing, and looks forward to learning how to construct the mill from the committee when the time comes.
After talking with the Kamwendo community members, Mr. Masamba surprised us with lunch! Nsima, pumpkin leaves, tomatoes, and onions. It was pretty delicious! We also had a little fun after lunch, before taking off for Zwanya.
Zwanya was a beautiful village! It was about five kilometers away from Central Kumponda.
The chief of Zwanya had stopped by our work site in Central Kumponda several times over the course of the trip. He was slightly disappointed when he heard we were working with Central Kumponda before Zwanya. Multiple times, we discussed with him that the work we do must be led by the development committee. Once the committee is able to finalize the mill with our support, the committee will be able to teach other communities, including Zwanya, how to develop the mill.
Zwanya was a very neat community, and it had some clear challenges. For discussions, we split into a team of females and a team of males. Through these discussions, we learned that Zwanya has a very difficult time with food security. Most of the food they consume is purchased from the Lunzu market, which is a two hour walk away. When the rains are strong, the Lunzu river floods and extends their trip to the market. Almost every year, the heavy rains in January wash away their crops and some of their homes. The women in the community said that when hunger strikes, they sometimes just go to sleep, hoping the hunger will fade. Food security is a huge challenge there.
The community has worked to develop beyond these challenges. The community has an experimental community farm where they bring agricultural specialists to teach the community better methods of growing food during the challenging years. Also, each household has their own compost pit, where they mix food scraps, maize stocks, and manure from chickens, goats, and cattle. There is also a larger community compost pit. This was neat to see! The community members said their largest strength is their ability to grow vegetables. They sell many vegetables at the markets.
Zwanya was a special community. It was great to learn more about the people there!
The day ended with these guys trying to sell Cate a turtle. Cate almost bought it just to set it free in its mountain home. Not cool guys.
So much love to all the EWB teams still traveling! And a HUGE thank you to our supporters back home - Malawi team, family, friends! You fuel us :]
Have a wonderful New Year's Eve!