Tuesday, 7 February 2012

This is the second and last set of pictures.
On Monday, we visited this SACCO in Rumphi. These folks were very proud of their new building, as they indeed they should be.

Heidi delighting more kiddies with their picture.

The Manageress of this SACCO in Rumphi.

A shy little girl let me take her picture.

Heidi and Ezekiel as we were working at the last SACCO to produce a report.

The Board of the Rumphi Community SACCO after we presented our report. A year ago, this SACCO wasn't given much chance of surviving. They had experienced a large fraud by the Manager, on top of huge delinquency caused by a failure of the tobacco market. Their membership were mainly tobacco farmers and the world markets for tobacco have essentially collapsed. They have re-focused their business on women groups and public servant professionals and the SACCO is turning around financially. The credit goes to the Board for their determination not to let the SACCO fail.

A scenery shot of the northern region. As I said earlier, this is a beautiful country. The north is quite mountainous. These rocky protrusions really stand out.

About 20 years ago, Malawi imported pine trees to build a lumber industry. Ezekiel thinks they are Canadian pines, and they certainly look like pines we might see in Canada. Heidi and I pretended we were back in cold Canada by putting on coats and (in her case), mittens.

Another SACCO we stopped to visit on the way back to Lelongwe from Mzuzu.

People all along the road are selling one thing or another. These are potatoes.

Tomatoes in this scene.

Some school kids who agreed to have their picture taken, maybe even insisted. Note the buildings in the background. These are the typical structures of houses used by rural Malawians.

Kids love to see themselves. The fellow behind asked if we would send pictures back to them. I hope Ezekiel can deliver them for us.

Back in Lelongwe. Heidi and Lennie wanted to have their SACCO cloth made into outfits. They took the cloth to this fabric / tailor shop way back in a marketplace. From the time they were measured until the outfits were completed, the work took about 3 hours.

I had an opportunity to spend some time with the MUSCCO President, Sylvester Kadzola, on the last day. It was a good visit.

Well, that concludes my picture presentation of my trip to Malawi. Thanks for dropping by and checking out my blog.

Garth Sheane

Monday, February 6 ... home again
So now, I'll try posting some pictures.

The Malawi Team in Ottawa being "oriented" on Malawian culture

  First day in Lelongwe, Malawi. Left to right ... Heidi Hyokki, Rocio Richot, Lennie Hampton, Bev Maxim, and David Domes

My partner, Heidi

A better picture of David

The Sunbird Hotel in Lelongwe ... not exactly roughing it!

Meeting with the President of MUSCCO (the national organization for Malawian SACCOs / credit unions) and his Executive Team in Lelongwe.

Our Team just before splitting off to different areas of the country

The central region of Malawi is quite flat, like Saskatchewan!

Heidi and our driver Venge with his family as we made our way north to Mzuzu

Two school girls we met on the road to Karonga. I asked them if I could pay to take their photo. It is impolite to take pictures of strangers without asking.

Heidi and Ezekiel. Ezekiel is the Business Development Officer for MUSCCO, northern region. He accompanied us in our assignments.

Two school lads who asked for a pen to have their photos taken.

Local wildlife in the mountains we passed through on the way to Karonga. These are baboons.

Our first view of Lake Malawi

The toilet bowl in my hotel room in Karonga. "This little froggy came courting and he did go ... flush". I treated this little guy like crap, and he still wouldn't leave. Hmmmm ...

The first SACCO we visited, in Karonga

The lady Manageress of the Karonga Teachers SACCO. I was very impressed with this lady's professional demeanor and business sense. She has been offered better jobs but she wouldn't leave the SACCO because she has a deep love for the work and what her SACCO means to her community.

The two pictures above are of the closing meeting in Karonga when we presented our report to the SACCO Board. It was so hot inside that they had us hold the meeting under a tree. We present certificates of our visit to the Board Chair and the Manageress.

Heidi and I were each presented with a gift. Mine was a beautiful shirt and tie set and Heidi received a bolt of special printed cloth made especially for the SACCO. Each SACCO has their own design. I was "Mr. Garth" and Heidi was "Madam Heid". First names are sort of used as last names for some occasions.

Sharing the road with a herd of cattle.

We stopped along the road on the way back to Mzuzu from Karonga and these little kids showed up. Heidi is showing them their picture on her digital camera which delighted them. They mimicked her movements ... when she squatted down, they squatted down. Very polite children.

My turn with these kids for a picture. I towered over them, so I crouched down, but then they would crouch down. 

On Sunday, Jan 29, Ezekiel and his wife Mildred took us to Lake Malawi. This is an open air court room in a fishing town.

Ezekiel, Mildred, and Heidi back-dropped by new saplings in a rubber tree plantation.

Me with our friends at the plantation.

Mature rubber trees with the sap collecting buckets. There were people along the road selling rubber balls that were made by wrapping strands of the sap around the balls to whatever size of ball they wanted to make. We bought a couple which we later regretted because they have a strong odor that permeated our hotel rooms.

Some kind of tree with a gnarly root structure at the beach resort where we spent several hours relaxing on that Sunday drive.

Ezekiel and Mildred at the Lake shore. Off in the distance we could see what appeared like wisps of smoke over the Lake. In fact, they were swarms of flies that hatch at a certain time of the year and are prized for local cuisine.

A young man came by wanting to sell paintings he had done. He first approached very timidly and quietly asked if he could show us his work. Apparently, he isn't allowed to sell on the beach unless he is invited to do so. We agreed to see his paintings and bought quite a few. Ezekiel negotiated for us and we did okay on prices. After the transaction, he told us that his wife had been seriously injured the day before and was in the hospital. He felt extremely blessed (his words) and grateful that we bought from him. I asked Ezekiel if he believed him, or was this just part of the sales pitch. He said he believed him because he didn't tell us about his wife until after we bought his paintings. Makes sense.