Progressio and People Serving Girl’s at Risk (PSGR) have been working with a number of people in the Blantyre region of Malawi over the past year and that work is being drawn to a close by the current cohort of national and UK volunteers in Cycle 4. The previous cycle of volunteers worked with Mr Laillo Salad, 56, who lives in Chinyangute village, in the rural north of Blantyre, Malawi.
Mr Salad is a disabled widower who suffers from permanent muscular and joint pain that as a result has left him with limited mobility that requires him to crawl instead of walk. Cycle 3 were informed that Mr Salad’s living conditions were undesirable as his house was in a very poor state. Upon hearing this, they decided to help Mr Salad and subsequently built him an entire new house over the course of 3 days. From the outset, Cycle 4 was keen to maintain the relationships established by PSGR, Progressio and previous cycles.
The current cohort heard that Mr Salad had been enjoying his new house but was still in need of a toilet as his nearest lavatory was over 20 meters away forcing him to crawl there over rough terrain and in the scorching sun.
Vincent Kagwazeni, 18, Group Leader for the Malawian volunteers said: “At first Mr Salad was suffering; he was using the bushes and a toilet very far away.”
Work began with the volunteers digging a 2-meter deep pit that was a few meters away from Mr Salad’s house. Volunteers took turns digging the hole using hoes to displace the earth and shovels to remove it. As they dug deeper, the earth got harder and pick-axes were required to break the ground.
Once the pit was complete, the volunteers covered the hole using slim tree trunks, stones and mud. A brick was left loose in the centre to form the latrine hole. This marked the half-way point in building the toilet.
Volunteers placing stones over carefully placed sticks to create the floor for the toilet building.
The volunteers collected bricks from the surrounding area and used these to start erecting the toilet structure. The de facto mortar was mud and therefore a number of trips were made to collect water from the nearest borehole which was 2 kilometres away. This gave the UK volunteers a great opportunity to practise carrying water by balancing it on their heads – unfortunately a lot was spilled! Mud was duly made and all the volunteers joined in laying the bricks on the growing structure.
Whilst some of the volunteers were finishing the brick structure others were creating the roof using locally sourced thatching and some tree branches. The completed roof was attached to the toilet structure using rubber ties. Leftover thatching was used to create a modesty fence and this marked the completion of the toilet in its entirety.
Uk volunteers Dan and Lauren collecting tacthing to be used to create the toilet roof.
Stacey Quinn, 21, UK Visual Media volunteer, said: “I was very impressed with how resourceful the building was, especially the use of the mud. It was a very rewarding experience.”
The volunteers were really pleased with their efforts and felt that the 3 days had been a success as they had constructed a toilet that should see 5 years of use and provide a more hygienic area for human bodily waste.
Mr Laillo Salad said: “I was feeling pain in my elbows and knees and also from the sun when I used to crawl to the toilet. I am happy to have a new toilet and I hope it will last a long time.”
Cycle 4 hopes to complete similar projects during the rest of their time working in Malawi with Progressio and People Serving Girls at Risk. It is a great honour to work with and serve the local communities in Northern Blantyre and the volunteers are forever grateful for the hospitality shown to them.
Uk Volunteer Benjimin and local community member Samson creating the structure for the toliet roof.
Written by Rita Kajombo and James Dixon
Photography by Stacey Quinn