March 23, 2016
I had no idea how attached/dependent I had become on that small electronic device I’ve been using since I have been here. I have railed against them and suddenly felt very isolated (in a crowd no less) when my battery died and there were no replacements in the country. It was a realization like the one I had when, as a born and raised “dog person” I realized that I had fallen for two abandoned kittens at our old farmhouse. Now, cats have a big spot in my heart. I guess my little electronic pest has wormed its way in as well. Wonders never cease!
The bamboo project has taken off but at an unfortunate/fortunate time of year. Crops here are not ready to harvest yet so money and food are in short supply all around. I had a long talk with the new head teacher (who is a breath of fresh air) after I saw a bunch of school aged students around selling mushrooms. She related that a number of students have dropped out as they were hungry. So, since we are charging a very nominal fee of about 65 cents, some people cannot afford a seedling. We have come up with some creative ways around this obstacle, but not everyone has come by to pick up their tree. The good news is that we are still getting rain and the seedlings in the ground are thriving. We are charging so that the bamboo has a value and to create a sustainable program. All the money collected goes into a fund to purchase more seedlings in January when the rains start again. Some great news came our way as two businessmen from England and Holland heard of our project and whizzed out here to see for themselves. Their business plan is to buy bamboo from the villagers and make “sustainable” charcoal. They were so excited with our distribution as our villagers can allow the business to start a year ahead of schedule. We are at the head of the class!! People are excited and planting carefully. Again, thanks for the support as this could make a difference.
There is a sundown service tonight to commemorate the death of Christ. Worshippers here are in communion with fellow devotees all around the world. I feel like some sort of heretic with no knowledge of this special event. I have mentioned I believe that this is a very religious country.
It has been very special to meet so many villagers on a more personal basis as I am the salesman who greets them when they come to get their bamboo. Their amazement at how big it gets in a year and how you can sustainably cut for 100 years or more has exposed me to some very touching conversations about children and their futures. “I want this for my children” has been a common saying amongst the shoppers. And my oh my do they shop. Each plant has been scrutinized many times. No one grabs and runs. This has given me ample time to explain planting and care issues. Please visualize a large Mainer waving his arms and gesticulating in odd ways while a Malawian holds a five foot high seedling aloft for closer inspection. The closest comparison I can make to our child friendly society is that here with life so moment to moment by necessity, a bamboo grove becomes like a college fund to a Malawian family.
We purchased a hand push lawnmower (two wheels, a spinning exposed set of blades, and a handle). Everyone wants a turn on it so we are now considering offering our site for wedding parties. Everything looks so neat and tidy. The whirring sound of the blades is pretty constant and appears to be going to stay that way until the newness wears off. The view of the mountain and the lake in the distance with all the shades of deep green would make a beautiful setting for a wedding with the front porch of the new building as the focal point.
Lots of monkey business on the mountain this morning and it was all the long tailed furry sort of business. That’s some of the news from Malawi.