Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Maize Mill Gainz

Monday always signals the start of a new week and this week, it was GO TIME.  We started the day early as usual and headed straight to the house of our new best friend, Joseph the welder in Kumponda!  The committee members met us there and we got down to business.  Here is what we accomplished for Monday:

-          Started creating the wooden supports for the bicycle pegs
-          Angle grinded teeth on the grinding plates
-          Welded the rotating plate to the axel

We discovered the soil has iron in it so the screwdriver attracts the soil. #Magnets #Science

It was also unbearably hot (especially when wearing a chitenje) so Matt, Jen, and I ran some errands to escape the heat which included buying lumber, cement, and snacks and Fantas for everyone!  I went on a mini errand once back in Kumponda with a couple of the committee members to drop the cement off at Alice the treasurer’s house and was totally ready to lug these 3 bags of 50 kg cement out of the van.  The committee members had their own way of carrying the bags – on top of a woman’s head!  They wouldn’t let me try it out though, but did let Mr. Masamba which was a funny role for a man to take on (I assume based on the laughs it generated). The day was a long but productive one!  We took one break in the middle to enjoy the snacks and Fantas from our errands and we shared some of bread with the mama dog and her puppies which was sweet.

We prayed for rain all day (even threw in a rain dance or two) but our prayers weren’t answered until we got back to our hotel.  Better late than never? 

Tuesday had another early start and late end, the best kind of day!  Of course we went straight to our homie Joseph’s house first and were met with a welder’s worst nightmare – no power.  We did our best to keep busy and did for the most part but had no luck with the power all day.  We were able to complete the wooden peg supports!  Whoop! 

Matt, Jen, and I found more reasons to run errands and hide from the blistering heat in the middle of the day.  When we got back, Spencer and Chris were sifting through beautiful pieces of art all handmade by a guy named Lettuce!  Lettuce lives in Kumponda and had so much to show us. 

Here is a picture of a goat in a tree we saw today!

And here is a picture of Matt, Jen, and me taking a picture of the goat in the tree.

We also got more puppy time of course!

Our work in the community for Tuesday came to an end when we finally gave up on waiting for the power to come back alive but our day didn’t end there!  We went on a grocery run (the best kind of run) and drove out to Limbe to pay our friends at CashBuild a visit.  When we got there, they were just closing up shop but opened again momentarily for us to grab some materials for tomorrow so shout out to our CashBuild friends! 

Daniel picked us up a little after we got back to our hotel and we ate Indian food again mainly for the garlic naan bread.  Tuesday finally came to an end when we got back around 10:30pm – way past my bedtime.  

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!  Thanks for all the support!!



  1. Great post Cate. That goat in a tree was interesting. And the sky looks beautiful in the picture of you taking a picture of the goat.

    Your experiences are demonstrating the importance of reliable infrastructure. But it's great to see you working with the community to overcome these challenges.

    Best wishes to you and the team for Christmas! We're thinking of you and looking forward to your return.


  2. Team Malawi,
    Very interesting the significant iron content in the soil... as Cate notes, likely some cool science/ material/ project opportunities leveraging that natural condition.

    A true test of your patience, focus and commitment when challenged with unpredictable material availability, power/ tools/ eqpt, weather, labor. This applies no matter what country you work in and good back up plans/ schedules accommodate. Your can-do attitude and buy-in from the community makes the difference. Very cool real-life stuff here.

    A very Merry Christmas to you all, good health, joy and peace. Looking forward to hear what the Blantyre and Kumponda traditions are for this season. Live, learn and be safe!