The reason I love Malawi so much, is that there is always a possibility of good news, a chance to be amazed, smiles on faces, very little media annoyance and people rarely, if ever, complain, in total contrast to life here at the moment.
In contrast with the view that bad news is the only news, I have two pieces of exciting news: well exciting for Wells for Zoe.
Anyone who follows our blog will know about our research and teaching farm in Lusangazi. Over the past year we added two fish ponds, and stocked them with fingerlings bought from our neighbours Kondwani and his wife Lioness, who have 3 fishponds. Lioness recently represented Malawi at a conference of fish farming.
Even though this initial visit is for education on fish farming, I would hope that in the future, more World Vision clients will return for courses on vegetable growing, seed production, grafting, budding, irrigation and chicken rearing.
The hostel was built with this idea in mind as most times volunteers come and help in return for education.
We have just employed a full time agriculturalist to teach and also to look at crops which are best suited to income generation.
The second piece of good news is about Áras Kate. Since the beginning of the year we have been working with the City Assembly on increasing our involvement in Salisbury line, which is one of the poorest and most deprived areas in the city of Mzuzu. It has all the downsides of poor urban areas anywhere in the world, like lack of education, very young single mothers, substance abuse, alcoholism, physical abuse, with the added bonus of Aids and orphans.
At the moment we have 250, two to five year olds in two rooms with 10 staff.
In hoping to add two more rooms, we asked the city assembly for more land, they asked us to produce what they call a Memorandum of Understanding, we did, they got excited; Charity and Mary got to work and yesterday after meetings with the Chief Executive, Planners, Surveyors and Chiefs, Harisen and Charity tell us that they are prepared to designate an extra 2 hectares for Educational and Amenities, with Áras Kate as the central focus.
It will mean building our two extra rooms, sports fields and a primary school, all to be used as a model for the city.
Money may not be to hand yet, but support has come from all sides, with teachers, social care and early child development people agreeing to come and volunteer this Summer. Added to the Irish contingent, we have an art teacher from Scotland, a Nurse from Canada, and a doctor from Australia.
Professor Dr Noirin Hayes from DIT has agreed to come to Mzuzu at the end of June to look at the possibility of personal and DIT involvement in the project.
I nearly overlooked the beginning of adult education at Áras Kate. Our first 15 students started their new life on Monday last March 15. Charity and Miriam have done the course sponsored by some arm of the Ministry of Education.
Nine of these mothers are starting at the equivalent of Junior Infants, and the rest are a little further on. They all got their copies, pencils and sharpeners and the process of learning to read and write begins. They have to start somewhere and we wish them luck.
There is already a knitting club, a netball club, and classes on health care and nutrition. We hope to keep expanding our horizons with the hope that this community will eventually be able to manage their own schools.
We have made a start and others will follow, and thanks to all our supporters for making this possible with your donations and encouragement.
On the pump front we are getting our first export orders ready for Tanzania and Zambia.
Who does all this work, you may ask?
Volunteers here and Malawians there.