Weekly report from the farm

For the past two months, as well as our almost daily skype conversations to mobiles, we get a weekly report from the Alinipher on the farm, Casca from the preschools and Duncan on the pumps. We are constantly amazed at how much is going on and how things have improved and at the quality of the content.

Date :7th October 2011.
Hei John & Mary,
Here is the report for Lusangazi Farm which Alinipha gave me.
* We are transplanting cabbage and boricole.
* We are planting Beetroots direct and peas.
* We are planting coco yams and strawberries.
* We are sowing sunn hemp, Mahogany and Msangu in tubes.
* We are planting sweet corn.
* We are doing heavy watering due to shortage of water but problem solved this week because we received heavy rainfall and water table increased.
* The water level in dams have increased and we have more water in the garden since Thursday this week.
* We are planting Dahlia around orchard and planting Bananas around orchard,we have took this amountn of rainfall to plant these because at first it was too dry.
* A message to Mary is that we have a letter from City Assembly.
* The are saying that the will be a training of the caregives.
* Place is City Assembly.
* They need 6 caregives from our schools*
* I wish all the Best!!!
GOD BLESS YOU ALL
CASCA

Life in Malawi

When the going gets tough, do the tough get going or maybe sometimes get the message, up tent and pegs and get the hell out of Dodge. This was our dilemma on May 2, 2011
We had come to Malawi, for the first time, just six years ago and feel we have made unbelievable progress (for us) with the poorest rural people you are ever likely to see anywhere. Rural poverty is different than the urban variety in that rural people generally survive better: they should be able to feed themselves at least, if they have any tradition of farming, and sell a little to buy necessities, but Aid, bad advice and poor governance have robbed them of their dignity and courage. Many people here, men mainly, have lost the spirit to survive and if there is any hope, it’s with the women.
I mention aid as the first blight, in that people have become dependent and wait for the €70,000 white jeeps to arrive and get them out of another spot, the Government having previously exaggerated the need, wasted much of the money on reports (done by white consultants) and sent what remained with the delivery boys.
In the past six years we have spent our time trying to inspire, educate and challenge villagers to get off their asses and do it for themselves, pushing ahead with communities who have taken the first steps. Our top attention goes to the provision of clean drinking water close to villages. The community (the men) dig the wells sometimes up to eighteen metres deep (the height of a four story apartment block), supply and build the bricks, sand and labour. We supply a simple, very sustainable and repairable pump, which we make in Mzuzu, and the cement.
To be honest most wells are six or seven metres deep and the average cost to us is about €130 per village meaning water for life can cost less than one Euro per person.
Clean water has a phenomenal, life changing impact. Water related illness disappears immediately. Words like diarrhoea, a bigger killer than aids, disappears from the vocabulary. Cholera, an almost instant killer vanishes, and women get back some rudiments of a life. Girls can get to school, bad and all as it might be. Women can grow gardens, often with our help and a horrific life becomes a little more bearable.
All this seems like something we’d want to stay for, and continue, but Malawi has changed in recent times. Suspicion and paranoia about the activities and influence of foreign NGO’s is all around us, and there’s a view abroad that we’re going back to the latter years of the reign of the dictator Kamuzu Banda, who ran a hoard of community spies, and not so nice people, who reported to the powers that be, lots of people were disappeared, some reported to be fed to the crocodiles in the Shire river and any semblence of law evaporated in the hot Malawi sun.
I’m not saying in any way that we have got that far, but a recent edict directed the President’s supporters to deal with dissenters and anyone critical of the current regime.
It’s interesting that today (May 2) the president announced May 14 as a National Holiday to honour the former president of Malawi, Kamuza Banda, and anyone who has read even the most abbreviated history of Malawi, and his illustrious reign, will appreciate what I mean. The comment that Malawi can live in prosperity if it learns from this great son of the land and decide to live by the values he stood for (from a full page Ministry Advert in the Daily Times ) maybe even the slightest bit of misleading. Now it is true that many of the older village men would concur with this but with maybe with just the slightest touch of selective amnesia, rose tinted glasses or even a bit of alzheimers. Maybe it’s more of a reflection on the current state of the country rather than a factual recollection of what was.

I suppose at this time rulers all around the world are looking at North Africa and what may be loosely called people power. Autocratic rulers everywhere are under scrutiny from all angles and must be worried about their collective futures .
If I look at one particular case: the UK, who had to welcome home their High Commissioner from Malawi, having been thrown out because he told it as it is, something that every canine conversation is about, on the streets these days. Like most of the developed world the UK has financial problems, taxes and interest rates will go up, they are spending ship loads of money on humanitarian aid, in places like Malawi and have now the cost of bombers in Libya. If I were a Health worker in Malawi, I would worry about my future, as the UK is the biggest funder of healthcare and medicines. Maybe getting rid of the British High commissioner was a stroke of genius. Being powerful enough to be first country in the commonwealth to ever send home an ambassador (even Mugabe didn’t go that far) has to show that Malawi’s sun has indeed risen.
During the past three weeks, not alone did we have had to visit Emigration and Government Information Services (the stazi) to give an account of our movements, we had Inland Revenue crawl all over us: all this mainly, I feel, at the instigation of a single individual.
There are thousands of foreign NGO’s in Malawi, we are tiny and they’re on our case, so what’s going on? More than vague suggestions are always made of arrest, eternal damnation or expulsion.
Maybe this rant should end with a laugh.
Two weeks ago, one of our employee’s, who looks after 5 rural preschools and visits one each day, was on his bike at about 7.30am and while passing a read block was detained by police. He was charged with speeding and told that they would keep his bike until the fine (€10) was paid. He left his bike, walked 2 miles to the school, 2 miles back and eventually when he confirmed that he had no money, and was walking away, they threw his bike at him.

w4z PHLOGS
Monday 23 May 2011: Duncan, the Mobile Plumber

When we arrived at the factory this morning, after 7.30, Duncan was loaded up and ready to roll, to fit two pumps. One was a broken pump which hadn’t worked for years and the other was on a new well .
Haven’t seen him since, but I’m sure the news is good.
In the wake of ever increasing fuel costs and the lack of fuel for long periods as a result of forex problems, we have decided to keep the show on the road and bought a new bike for our new guy Duncan.
He loves the job and the bike and the whole affair.May 2011

You can laugh (or cry) at the following email

John
.
Here is my report plus the G,P,S details of some pumps that we have installed so far.
We went to Ekwendeni following up those letters you left plus other new wells namely; Makalanje, V H Simon, Halazie, Shonga and Engcongoleni.
On 14 June I went to maintan a pump in Thandazga,
On 15 June I was with steve digging a well at the factory,
Today I went to Chimwemwe Kazando to take the mesurement of the new well, I will go there before Friday to make a cover and show them how to construct the whole well.

PUMP DETAILS

1.Village name;E,E Ngoma
Location;Geisha
No of people;28
GPS: S 11*28.410 E033*59.106 Depth,6.8m

2.Village name;Vwenya Mzumla
Location;Dunduzu
No of people;128
GPS; S11*24.325 E033*57.880 Depth;4.6m

3.Village name;V,H Luguba Mhlanga
Location;Nkholongo
No of pple;196
GPS; S11*22.601 E034*00.765 Depth;3.9m

4.Village name;Kam’khwalala
Location;Chimwemwe Kazando
No of people;357
GPS; S11*28.811 E033*57.445 Depth;3m

When things are going well in Malawi, it’s time to worry. This came from Duncan today: He finishes
John,
The traffic policeman told me that not to carry pipes on my bike any longer failing which I will be arrested.
Duncan Reporting.

If we check with the police there will be no law, statute or mention of such. But because of corruption, stupidity or plain badness, this is their law, one man’s law and unless we pay them off this is THE ONLY LAW.

In one week, this young man (21) has helped 4 villages and gain access to safe, clean drinking water for the first time and some brainless f***** in a uniform has invented a reason to intervene, in the hope of collecting a bribe.
This is everyday life in Malawi and it’s at all levels from the top down.
Millenium Development Goals my ass.

How do kids in Malawi ever survive!!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1940′s, 50′s, 60′s…
Sent to me by a friend

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses containing asbestos..

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.
Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nandos.
Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death!
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy Toffees, Gobstoppers, Bubble Gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because……
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY,
no video/dvd films,
no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms………WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
Lawsuits because these were accidents.
Only girls had pierced ears!
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time…
We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays,
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!
Mum didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!
FOOTBALL, RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on
MERIT
Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bully’s always ruled the playground at school.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.
They actually sided with the law!
Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like ‘Kiora’ and ‘Blade’ and ‘Ridge’ and ‘Vanilla’
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO
DEAL WITH IT ALL!
And YOU are one of them!
CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

More money will not solve Africa’s famines!

Africa: Money Will Not End Famine
James Shikwati
2 September 2009
________________________________________
OPINION
There was a time in Africa when elders would “talk” to the drought and negotiate their way into receiving rainfall. With their unique understanding of causation, elders would either sacrifice a black sheep or ask a virgin girl to bathe in a lake in order to draw the attention of the rain gods.
Would that they could do so now.
With an estimated 50 million Africans in dire need of food aid and an additional 120 million facing starvation if immediate measures to alleviate the situation are not taken, the general assumption has become that developing countries do not have what funds are necessary to increase food productivity.
Too little time has been invested in seeking to understand why Africa, with its vast farmlands and its brilliant and innovative sons and daughters, still goes hungry as the rest of the world battles with obesity.
Computer experts are aware of malware, the “malicious software” that is designed to infiltrate a computer without the owners’ informed consent.
The general computer user is familiar with viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and spyware among other programmes that cause harm to the operating system.
As we talk about famine in Africa, we should take a moment to evaluate the hostile and intrusive programmes operating in the background as food aid in particular and aid in general run in the foreground.
Ask yourself, for example, why a majority of Africans have changed their diets.
Kenyan nutritionists point out that we have ignored high value foods and replaced them with junk, sacrificing thousands of Africa’s domesticated and wild edible crops at the altar of modernity.
Malicious system
Crops whose production should be scaled up by virtue of their ability to adapt to Africa’s climate have instead been framed as crops of poverty.
Crops such as the tamarind, millet, sorghum, indigenous peanuts and potatoes have been kicked out of the menu in favour of wheat and beef.
Over 50 years of food aid targeted at Africa have been marked by a corresponding increase in episodes of famine, which points to the possible existence of a food “malware” – a malicious system that changes people’s dietary habits in favour of imported foods.
The same malware has penetrated agricultural schools, where it trains graduates to promote the new foods as opposed to upgrading local varieties.
Worst of all, it has penetrated political leadership, corrupting their minds with the quest for kickbacks to the extent that they do not invest in local solutions as foreign solutions can loaded with the possibility of a quick 10 per cent.
In the absence of an effective “anti-virus” this malware loads its intentions on the hapless operating systems of Africa’s nations, forcing them to become perpetual beggars.
It is my contention that, to reduce the incidence of famine on the continent, Africans must develop an effective system for detecting the “malicious background operating system” that has not only denied them the opportunity to promote their local cuisines but has also exposed their land to grabbing.
It is time we invested in our indigenous crops, turned our rural populations into celebrated food suppliers through incentives and invested in technology to free our continent from perennial famine.
Contrary to common belief, money is not the solution to Africa’s famine problem. Neither, for that matter, is food aid. What we need to do is get rid of the malware operating in our system.
James Shikwati is the director of Inter Region Economic Network
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