Returning to Malawi in October, the landscape was bleak, scorched and empty - a far cry from the lush vegetation we left behind in June .....
The most vulnerable are hungry now, we are releasing some maize from our storeroom on a monthly basis, but must keep most of it for the “hunger months” - Christmas to March, when we’ll be feeding hundreds of people, assessed at risk within our target group - orphans, the elderly, disabled and AIDS-affected.
AIDS figures are still growing. Pregnant ladies are compulsorily tested as part of their routine ante-natal care, but the fear of a positive result is stopping some from attending this valuable service, putting babies - and mothers - at risk.
The temperature was very hot - mid 50’s and increasingly humid as the rains loomed. As usual, electricity supply was intermittent - frustrating for us, but of little consequence to our friends in mud huts.... However, water is another matter! The tapped community system had been dry since September, and now some of the boreholes were failing. After our unsuccessful borehole drilling on site earlier this year - 46m through solid granite and still no water - the situation is serious enough to threaten the effectiveness of our service to the poor. There are several possible options - running a dedicated pipeline down the mountain, creating a reservoir, or surveying for another possible borehole site locally, but expertise and good advice are hard to come by in the rural areas.
Mums and babies eagerly await our goats’ milk distribution at Chigwirigwidi Village
Our goats’ milk is being distributed to dozens of acutely vulnerable babies, deep in the remote areas each day.
It was refreshing to receive a letter from Chigwirigwidi village, expressing their thanks for the obvious improvement in the health of their most vulnerable youngsters after 3 months on our programme. We saw them ourselves, now beginning to grow and thrive, but just as we were leaving, a young mother with tiny 2-month old twins arrived, asking for help. She’s HIV+, and having trouble supplying enough milk. After further assessment, she’ll probably be included on our Milk Programme.
We have 20 female goats, and have reduced the males to just two. At Goat meetings we were able
to check records, share info and ear-tag the kids.
We are still aiming to breed specifically for milk yield, a thoroughly alien concept in the Bush. The dry season causes problems in locating enough greenstuff, but we’d made hay, and plan to increase forage growing this year if we can identify suitable land.
The very exciting Community Rabbit Project is about to be launched, to supply food and profit to the vulnerable.
We currently have 3 chickens kholas, and plans were put into place to distribute specialist cockerels and local hens in the local community to evaluate breed improvement, and move younger ones into breeding groups.
The “Yankho” AIDS Support Group meets weekly in our Hall. About 20 people gather for mutual encouragement and practical help, chaired by one of our own staff who is HIV+.
We commissioned pilot hutch-parts to be made which will be assembled and tested for durability and most economical materials. We’ll issue young rabbits to our staff in the first instance, to iron out any wrinkles in the plan to distribute female pairs to vulnerable families in the community.
It’s a safe forum where they can discuss issues relevant to their situations, and plans for the future.
Report of Malawi trip - Oct/Nov 2010
This is page 1 autumn trip 2010