Water, Water, Water

At the beginning of the week we visited Wells for Zoe. It was an interesting visit and we learnt all about how the pumps are constructed, and we even watched a demonstration of them in action. They told us that we would have the chance to join in, building wells and water pumps in various villages; this includes digging, installing and giving training about maintenance to the villagers. We are very excited about the prospect of getting involved with this. At the end of the visit we also saw some handmade bee hives, and we would be interested in exploring this activity further as an income generating activity. In the afternoon we went to a youth meeting, while one of us went to town to purchase some seeds and buy some tarpaulin for the next day. 

Sustainable farming and community gardens

On Tuesday we spent the day in Msiki where we met a warm welcome from the whole community. We began by slashing the reeds from the fields, and tying them with rope which we made out of bark. After we had made enough bundles to cover two roofs we carried them back to the house on our heads. Whilst the men in the village were thatching, we spent time getting to know the women and children and we especially enjoyed the songs and dancing. Our lunch was provided by the community and we ate it together on a mat in the headman’s house. The food was very tasty and they had been extremely generous. In the afternoon we travelled to Dunduzu where we helped to plant seeds in the community garden (onions, cabbage, tomatoes, rape and spinach). We first had to prepare the soil by levelling it with a hoe and scoring grooves for the seeds. We then sprinkled in the seeds and watered them with water that we collected from a make-shift well. We covered the seed beds with some reeds before watering them again. The vegetables, when grown, will be used for the home based care groups. 

ICS volunteer, Nneka Cummins gardening with locals in Malawi

Wednesday found us in Chitatata where we began by helping in another community garden. This time we concentrated on re-planting rape from the nursery into different beds where they had more space in which to grow. To do this, we dug up the young rape shoots, being careful not to damage the roots; we then transferred them after encasing them in mud and replanting them in holes that we had made. We all took turns collecting water from the well, which currently has a broken pump. We appreciated the work that the widows have to do daily as the buckets are really heavy and we struggled to keep up the pace. We spent the rest of the morning learning traditional songs and dance with the widows who performed for us before we joined in. This was extremely enjoyable and we left feeling like we had made new friends! In the afternoon we participated in the youth group meeting where we discussed the organisation of a local sports tournament. We hope to engage eight church youth groups for a three-week-long event. It’s really nice to be involved with the youth group in this way. 

Nutritional analysis and the "Gumboot" dance

On Thursday we visited Chitatata again where we weighed and measured ten children from the village and some of the children from the CBCC (community based childcare centre) in order to assess their weight for height and height to age ratio. We were trying to gather data to find out their nutritional status. While some people were measuring, others were singing songs and playing games with the children. In the afternoon we were involved in traditional dance classes with the youth group. The teacher was great and taught us the beginning steps of the ‘Gumboot Dance’. This dance lesson helped us bond even more with the youth group and is a great opportunity to integrate more in the future. 

ICS Volunteers Nneka Cummins, Kirstie Grego, Kerry Logan, Chloe Jobling and Carolina Motta-Mejia with a local youth group in Malawi

Friday was dedicated to report writing, preparing for CBCC care givers meeting and questionnaires and we brainstormed and prepared for next week’s activities.

By ICS volunteer Carolina Motta-Mejia

Photo 1: ICS volunteer Kerry Logan measuring height with local people

Photo 2: ICS volunteer Nneka Cummins gardening with locals people

Photo 3: ICS volunteers Nneka Cummins, Kirstie Grego, Kerry Logan, Chloe Jobling and Carolina Motta-Mejia with a local youth group