Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tuesday/Wednesday: The Tours

Peter Timmerman, the regional director of World Renew here in Malawi, is keen to see sustainable development happen and moreover to see it done very well. As our group went from home to home seeing the goat, pig, seed loan, ecosan latrine, and orphan nursery feeding programs, he urged us to ask evaluative questions to help the recipients, committee members, NRD reps and us see what is working, what isn't, and how things could be improved.

Our first stop was to see goats. Zaak was happy about that. The owner had received a goat in 2010 and now had 10 goats in his little barn above ground. He had repaid the committee with a goat already and was planning to grow his herd to 30. The goats are used as an asset that can be cashed in when there is a need (school fees, an illness, a funeral, etc.). The manure is also used as valuable fertilizer in his field where he can recognize a clear increase in crop yield. We hear this story over and over as we go from home to home whether it is pigs or goats. The owners are proud of their new assets and we see only healthy animals - this is likely due to the fact that each recipient completes a full 5 days of training before getting their pig or goat.

The seed loans are equally impressive. We visit a lady who turned a loan of 2 kg of soy bean seeds into an impressive diversified crop and many times her original loan amount. She easily repaid the loan with 4 kg of seeds which then went into the program and were loaned to two beneficiaries. With profits, she has purchased a radio, paid school fees for her children, and bought a goat. On Wednesday we see what could be the most impressive ground nut (peanut) crop which began with one of our seed loans.

10 cubic feet of rich fertilizer is dig out of this woman's ecosan latrine twice a year. Upon inspection of the ecosan latrine itself, there is no offensive odours and the sealed off hole is completely undetectable. A bag with soil and ash mixed together sits  near the current latrine where one cup of the mixture is sprinkled over waste.

As we tour the various villages, we are greeted in large numbers and even larger songs. Even our guides, the committee members, sing from the back of the pick-up truck the entire day. When the singing dies down, we are seated under a tree before the great crowd of women, children and men. Introductions are exchanged, people clap, and speeches are made. Zaak is 4 for 4 as far as speeches on behalf of our group are concerned. There is genuine enthusiasm for our partnership.

We collapse into our beds after that first day in Kamanzi and head back into the villages on Wednesday morning for more special greetings and tours. Just before lunch at Christina's house (same delicious traditional menu as the previous day) we are presented with a demo from the nursery school which is comprised of orphans, single parent children, and vulnerable children all ages 5 and under. They recite their parts of the body, sing songs, and then go off to eat a vitamin enriched porridge provided by New Hope.

Following the nursery demo, we get a Village Savings and Loan (VSL) demonstration where over a dozen women join together to contribute to an emergency fund, add to their savings and take out loans as needed. Jane says this one is not too impressive since these aren't as dynamic as many that she has seen, but we are asked to probe the VSL members about what their first experience with VSL last year was like. Members talk about how they used their cashed in savings for (school fees, home improvements, some capital investments) and how they used loans. One woman ordered head scarves from town and sold them in the village at a substantial profit - we can spot several women with scarves in the crowd. Another bought fertilizer while another some animals.

Our final stop for the day is at Bornface's village. After all of the formal introductions and clapping and lots of singing and dancing, the local youth class volunteers and youth demonstrate what their weekly get together looks like. There is some teaching and some fun.

We quickly visited Bornface's beautiful family and then made the bumpy trip back to Lilongwe with the sun setting in our rearview mirrors.


  1. Amazing pictures Zaak! And what a full day that sounds like for all of you!