Saturday, 12 June 2010

Camp Future in Spain

After 6 months of volunteer work, I came back from Malawi and on May 15 I arrived at my school, CICD (College for International Co-operation and Developmant), in England. I started the last period of the volunteer program called “Camp Future”. This is the evaluation period of what you have done in Africa as a volunteer and you can share your experience with the DI’s at some schools in Europe that have the same DI Course as CICD. I decided to go to Spain to do part of my Camp future. So, on May 23 I arrived at L’Ametlla del Vallès (40km from Barcelona) where there is a DI program that is similar to the 6 months of DI Course in CICD. In L’Ametlla del Vallès there are also the facilities to collect and sort second hand clothes and shoes that, after, go to the shops in Africa and Spain. As a result for the DI’s in Spain, they can work with maintenance of the container used to collect clothes on the streets, and they can work at the assortment of clothes.

The first week I worked on maintenance of containers used to collect clothes on the street. I worked together with a DI from Spain, Oliver, in a car that I was the driver and in the other car Camp Future DI’s Mihong and Flavio worked with DI Cristina. This work consists of painting and put new stickers on the containers on the street located in the cities around Barcelona. On Tuesday, as it was on the work plan, I presented for DI’s in Spain my experience in the projects in Malawi. For me I was surprised that I had only one presentation for the entire week.

On Saturday, I went to a second hand clothes shop (Ronda de la Universitat) in Barcelona to see how the second hand clothes shop is, to talk to the staff and customers, and do leafleting for clothes sales. It was nice to see the difference of this shop in Spain and the shops in Malawi, where I worked as volunteer. On Sunday I went to the shop in Parallel Avenue, Barcelona, to see one more shop, take pictures, and talk to the staff and customers. The shops in Spain are much better because of nice decoration, cleaned facilities, proper price tags, good ambient lighting, nice showcase and many others things. I could see how the shops in Malawi can improve. One problem that I found was that the staffs of the both shops and customers hardly speak in English. But I could talk to them as I know a little of Spanish and I speak Portuguese.

In the second week, I and other DI’s went to Salou, a city 140km from L’Ametlla del Valès, where we participated in the week of biodiversity of Salou. We were there to explain to children about the importance of recycle clothes for the environment and to explain more about the process of collect clothes that Humana does in Spain. There was also an activity that children decorated Humana buckets, used to collect money. They decorated the buckets with pieces of second hand clothes and colourful paints. This was a nice activity to show the community how Humana works in Spain so the people could connect the clothes that they donate with the volunteers in the projects in Africa, because DI’s that are enjoying the program were there to talk to people.

In the weekend, I went to Olesa de Montserrat, 60km from L’Ametlla de Valès, where other DI’s and I participated in an open fair with many different social institutions. There were the institutions’ stands with posters and leaflets to show about their activities. We were there to explain about Humana in Spain, DI program, and projects in Africa. We also brought some buckets for children do some decoration on it with paints and pieces of second hand clothes. It was a nice event where we could explain about Humana but we didn’t have a proper stand as the other institutions had, so we were there from 9:00 to 14:00 on the sun!

The idea of this last period called Camp Future is to share your experience from Africa with the DI’s who are going to there and also to evaluate your activities as a volunteer. I did some of these activities here in Spain like when I gave my presentation to DI’s about my project in Malawi, when I went to that event in Salou or the event in Olesa de Montserrat. I had a nice time in Spain but I feel like I could have done more activities with the DI’s related to what I learned in Malawi or what I think is important for them to learn from me to use in Africa.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Investigation period

As a part of the volunteer program in Africa we DI's (Development Intructors) have the “investigation period” that is a period of one week or more days you can visit other projects throughout the country or you also can visit a place of your interest that you think is important to know more about the country you work as a volunteer. I did both things, first I went to visit DAPP Second Hand projects in Mzuzu, in the North of Malawi, after that I went to Likoma Island, in Lake Malawi. As DAPP Second Hand projects there are two second hand clothes and shoes shops, one is retail shop that also have second hand books, and the other shop is a wholesale of second hand clothes. There is also the “production” that is the place where clothes and books arrive from outside the country to be sorted and delivered to the shops in Mzuzu and Karonga.

I live in south of Malawi, Blantyre, so this time I went to another part of the country that is quite different from south. The people there prefer to eat kondowle that is a kind of nsima, their staple food. It is similar to nsima but kondowle is made by cassava flour instead of maize flour. I tasted it, and after I ate it I felt very full. It's heavier than nsima in the stomach!

After I visit Mzuzu, I went to Likoma Island. To travel to there I used Ilala Ferry that goes from Monkey Bay, south of the lake, to Chilumba, north of the lake. To go to Likoma you need to take the ferry when it does the way north to south and to go back you need to wait 5 days on the island until the ferry go back on south-north way. I took the ferry in Nkhata Bay and bought the first deck ticket, K2,800. The first class deck is where the tourists usually travel because the other classes are not only crowded with people but all the stuff they need to bring to the island: banana, cassava, sweet potato, maize, flower, rice, fish, chicken, crates of soft drinks and many other things. The travel is at night and takes 6 hours, so I rented a mattress to sleep during the travel. Some people put tents on the deck.

Likoma Island is a fantastic place with unique vegetation of grass and baoba trees, and so clear water that you can do snorkelling and see 10m or more in front of you. The electricity on the Island is provided by generators and goes off at 22:00. I stayed at Mango Drift lodge a good place to relax without that guys selling handicrafts on the beaches that sometimes annoy you trying to sell their things. For me this place was the most beautiful at Lake Malawi.

Friday, 30 April 2010

13th of April was one of the biggest days in Malawi for me as a volunteer as finally the donation of books to a Malawian Prison happened. I had been working on it since January to arrange this donation and at the end of March I went to the Malawian Prison Headquarters in Zomba to talk to the Chief Commissioner of Prisons. Talk to the Chief of Malawian Prisons was a unique experience, I brought him the letter to ask permission to report the donation in a newspaper and a radio. He was very grateful for the donation of books to the prison in Chichiri and he said we are welcome to go back there to donate more books because these books will be very important to boost the reading culture among the prisoners and to improve their education as an important key for their reintroduction into the society. The donation was made up of 2,500 assorted books to Malawian Prison in Chichiri, Blantyre. This action arose as an initiative to give a proper destination for books from old stocks of DAPP Second Hand Shops in Blantyre. The donated books were assorted second hand ones from UK and USA including education, novels and religious books. Chichiri Prison has a library and school with primary and secondary education, and also a vocational school with some courses like mechanics, electronics, carpentering and computing.

The books were received by Deputy Officer in Charge for Chichiri Prison and the Officer in Charge for the School. Those present from DAPP were Project Leader Iness Chimwaza, Co-project Leader George Chibaka, DI from DAPP Book Shop Maurício da Silva Mayor, and DI from DAPP Second Hand Clothes and Shoes Kim Mihong. The event was reported by a national newspaper, Nation on Sunday, and it was also reported by a national radio, MBC Radio.

Monday, 5 April 2010

DAPP Book Fair

The DAPP Book Fair on 26th and 27th of April was a success! More than 300 people visited the book shop during the two days. We did many discounts on books and we gave them cakes and soft drinks so the customers could enjoy the book fair. The idea of a book fair is quite nice to invite people to come and know the DAPP Book Shop. Some people were there first time to know the book shop. It’s good that DAPP can do this kind of event reducing the prices of books so more people can buy good books. The books were like 50% discount or buy 3 for K100 (US$ 0.66).

I was at the entrance of the book shop to give cakes and soft drinks. The pieces of cake were free and soft drinks I could give to people who bought books. The cakes were chocolate cake and simple cake, and we also had doughnuts and waffles. The cakes were made by me and doughnuts and waffles by Mi-Hong. To prepare the cakes I had quite luck because we could make them at Yefua’s house, a friend of my project leader.

I was supposed to make the cakes at my project leader’s house but on the way to her house she told me that she doesn’t have a mixer. So she phoned to her friend, Yefua, to ask her a mixer. When we arrived at Yefua’s house she asked if we wanted to make the cakes there. She and her daughter, Tapiwua, helped us to bake the cakes. They are very generous and kindly people. A good example of Malawians.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Activities this week

In this post I'll tell the activities I've been doing this week to show more about what I've been doing in my project as a volunteer. On Monday, I went to DAPP office in Limbe to finish the poster and leaflet which I've been working since last week. These poster and leaflet are for the annual DAPP Book Fair on 26th and 27th of March. As a part of my volunteer work I've been working to promote the advertisement of events, book fairs and sales to DAPP Book Shop. On Monday, I also had a meeting with Ole Thomsone, director of DAPP, to talk about the donation of books to Malawi prison. I had this idea of donate more than 3,000 books from DAPP's book old stock and I needed his authorisation to go ahead with this action. He agreed with the donation and this make me very happy because I've been working with this idea of donate books since January.

On Tuesday I enjoyed a mobile sell of books to the oner of a school, Mr. Kaphuka. He wants to improve the library of his school so I went there, with Atupele and George, to delivery education books. In total he bought more then 4,000 books and next month he wants more books! The books that he bought were education books classified in different subjects like ma thematic, science, computer, history, geography, language, business and arts. I found two good books of calculus and microbiology which I used in my University. Mr. Kaphuka is doing a good thing to his school to improve the education of his students.

On Wednesday, I went to the book shop to help the staff organize the new arrivals of books. On Thursday, I visited three DAPP Second Hand Clothes shops as they also sell books, I informed them about the donation of books to Malawi prison and told them to select some books to the donation. On Friday, I went to DAPP office to talk to my project leader, get my allowance and access internet.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Donating toys to orphanage

Last Sunday Mi-Hong and me went to an orphanage, in a village located near Lunzu, to donate some toys and snacks to the children. This orphanage has 73 children that the majority of them lost their parents because of HIV/AIDS. A teacher told me that 10% of the children are HIV positive. The orphanage started their activities in 2009 by initiative from local people. They don't have so many features, the 4 teachers are volunteers from the village, there isn't any building for the classes, their activities happen under a tree on the ground floor. They started to make the clay bricks with the community help to build the classrooms but for now they decided to buy a house that can be used to their activities as buying it will be cheaper than build a new one. So they are doing fund raising to buy the house.

The toys donated to the children were from CICD (College for International Co-operation and Development) and, as they weren't enough, I bought more toys. The children were very happy to receive the toys, I think the toys can bring them some hope to feel like children since almost of them has to work at agriculture and they don't have time to play.

Friday, 5 March 2010

My way to DAPP Book Shop

I don't need to take bus to go to the Book Shop where I work as a volunteer, as my house is not so far away, I'm very glad for that. The Book Shop is 15 minutes by walk from my house in Chitawira, Blantyre and to go there I take a short way. It is a footpath just for people between maize plantations, guava trees and mango trees, and I have to cross a small bridge - a primitive footbridge made of wood - over a polluted small river that each day has a different color! Now it has been raining a lot so there are many pools of mud and the ground became slippy, I need to be careful. Many people walk trough this short way so there are 2 stands with sellers of chips and fried chicken. If I go earlier, about 7:00 in the morning, I can see them preparing their stuff, peeling potatoes, lighting the charcoal stoves and killing the chickens! This footpath is located behind the Polytechnic, a College of University of Malawi.

The Malawi Polytechnic was established in 1965 and has now grown to six academic faculties offering degrees in the are of Engineering, Commerce, Applied Science, Education Media Studies and Building. I went there to visit this week and talked to the director of the Department of Environmental Health, Mr. Kingsley Lungu. He explained me about this department and told me the college has 2,500 students. I asked if there was Environmental Engineering but he told me they don't have this course. There are only three Engineering undergraduate courses: Civil, Electrical and Mechanical. The university wasn't so busy as the students are coming back from holiday this week.