Thursday was another beautiful day!
Almost every day this past week, we’ve driven to the city of Limbe to visit our favorite stores Cashbuild and Phalombe Hardware. Cashbuild is a smaller version of Home Depot, and Phalombe Hardware is your classic neighborhood hardware store. After gathering materials for the day’s work, we headed to the Kumponda community to work with them on maize mill construction.
Our goal for this particular day was to pick up more tools - mainly screwdrivers because all our Malawi screwdrivers wore down the first day of use :( - and to get holes drilled in four pieces of wood. We did not consider the fact that, in Malawi, many shops close one to two weeks before the holidays. Finding a machine shop and welders for our project was a major challenge. Since we have become good friends with the manager of Phalombe Hardware, we hoped they would be able to point us toward a skilled machinist that might be open for the holidays.
We exchanged the normal “hello” and “how are you” with the Phalombe manager and asked for his recommendation. He looked at us with amazement and told us that a man with a machine shop at his house just walked out of the store! One of the workers ran the man down, and we were in business. Twenty minutes later, we were at the man’s house. He helped us drill holes in the lumber, and he also served us Coca-Colas. Quite the delicacy! We were so fortunate to run into such a friendly man! His name was Singh.
With the supplies purchased and holes drilled, we headed to the community!
We continue to be amazed by how excited people are about the project. I mean EVERYONE! The committee members show us every day that they want to learn exactly how to construct the mill. They have taken so much ownership of the project. It’s incredible! From a sustainability standpoint, community ownership and participation in any project is one of the most important aspects. Our team has done a very good job of explaining the steps of the project thoroughly and allowing the committee to do the construction with our oversight.
One highlight of the day was sharing our small amount of food with the two community chiefs (Kumponda and Kumponda 2) and the maize mill committee (two men and four women on this particular day). We did not plan for this, so we only had five apples, six sandwiches, and eight protein bars, but we decided to share what we had. They were extremely appreciative as we split everything in halves and spread it around. It was a very neat experience.
After the meal, we had another meeting with the committee. At the first meeting on Monday, the community chiefs were not able to attend, so this was a great chance to discuss with the chiefs. At this meeting, we were able to further explain our hopes for the committee’s participation in the project, learn more of the committee’s hopes for the project, answer and ask clarifying questions, and let the committee and chiefs know that the maize mill won’t be perfect the first time. That last point was important for us to make clear, so the committee has realistic expectations. Whenever we discussed how we wanted the community to own the project for themselves, everyone clapped loudly in appreciation.
After the meeting, we spent time with the children!
They were especially attracted to Jen and Cate’s dancing skills! They taught the kids how to whip and nae nae, which was wonderful! We also learned some dances and songs from the children. It was a lovely day!
Thank you everyone supporting us back at home :] We are very appreciative of your support! Also, Thailand, India, and Nicaragua teams, keep doing your wonderful work!! Malawi team back at home, hope you're thoroughly enjoying the break!