I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful summer.
In July, I traveled to Malawi to check out the progress on the Liwonde Project. Travelling with me were the owners and staff of Envoys - a student educational travel company - and the five students taking part in the Malawi - Microfinance in Action program. We spent a day helping - or at least attempting to help - the villagers clearing the 3 hectare (about 7.5 acres) fish farm site. It was back-breaking work as everything is being cleared by hand. Chopping, digging and prying stubborn tree stumps out of rock hard earth, on a blazing hot day was tough, but no one complained.
25 (approximately 150 people) community families committed to work on the preparation and construction of the fish farm, in return for a "share" - a small plot of land within the fish farm compound - to grow their own vegetables around a mini fish pond which will be stocked with fingerlings.
At times we felt as if we were in the way - the village men were much more adept at wielding a machete or pick ax then we were. But we had no problem picking up the twigs and dead grasses to build the small fires needed to burn the stumps.
We were treated to a delicious lunch prepared right there in the field by Lucy and two other village women. Cooked over an open fire, we had grilled chicken, kidney beans and a green leafy vegetable similar to spinach. It was all scooped up from a tin plate with a piece of bread and our hands.
At the end of the day, when we all gathered with Project Manager Mike Labuschagne, we thanked the villagers for their hospitality and putting up with our lack of experience with manual labor. We really wondered if we had been a help or a hindrance. The village Headman, with Mike interpreting said it best, "We know you think you haven't done much, but you came all the way from America to help us in this poor community. We give you many blessings, as without your help we wouldn't be doing this at all."
The Chickolongo Community Fish Farm will have it Grand Opening in mid-September, and I will send out the next progress report shortly afterwards.
Thank you for your continued support. We couldn't do it without you.
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