Today was a very important day for us SLIMers in Malawi because we met with a representative from all the CBOs in MPALUTI, i.e. Mchenga, Paradiso, Luzi, Tilerane, and Mwana Wa Mzako. The directors for Mchenga (Arnold), Luzi(Mr.Banda), and Paradiso(Miriam) were all there while there were representives for Tilerane(Cecilia) and Mwana Wa Mzako (Pauline). We began the meeting with brief introductions into each CBO, including updates, followed by a recap from the meeting minutes from last year. Mchenga has started a very exciting pig IGA (income generating activity) while Luzi is busy revising the number of its beneficiaries. Tilerane hosts a vibrant garden that is useful to its HIV/AIDS patients, beneficieries, and orphans, while Mwana Wz Mzako continues to support over 50 children with their academic careers. Paradiso continues to astound us by conducting numerous IGAs, sponsoring a student in medical school, continuing to educate the Paradiso catchment area and more.
These directors and CBO staff members are sincerely some of the most impressive people I have ever met. It is truly difficult to describe just how unbelievable it is to be in the room with people who are responsible for so much good. Many of them are responsible for literally thousands of men, women, children, elders, and sick people. And they were kind enough to share their programs with us, their hopes for the future, their areas that could use improvement as well as their successess. Every director had at least two or three new ideas, and we look forward to doing what we can to help while we are here for the next few weeks. Such tasks include trying to obtain electricity for Mwana Wa Mzako and Mchenga, purchasing some chairs for Mwana Wa Mzako, and looking into internet for many of the CBOs including Luzi. In addition, we focused a good portion of the meeting on transparency, and look forward to working with the CBOs with excel training, ledger reviews, and receipt organization. This will be super useful because it will make the MPALUTI network look professional, and will both attract donors and encourage respect of the network.
After the meeting we were rewarded with the most glorious of Malawian foods, NSIMA! Fear not those of you stuck in the states, we have been promised real Malawian maize flour and will attempt to make the delicious food upon our return. I’m not sure if Nsima has been explained yet, but it’s basically maize flour mixed into hot water and it becomes quite thick. You eat it with your hands with some kind of “relish” which is like a vegetable mix or meat with some sort of sauce...bascially the most tasty thing you can imagine. It’s the staple food of Malawi, which explains why we all think it’s extremely exciting even though Malawians don’t quite agree.
We spent the rest of the night working with our schedule for the rest of the trip (HOW HAVE WE ALREADY BEEN HERE 5 DAYS???) and practicing putting on our Tchenge (ignore the spelling). Tchenges are a piece of garment often worn like a skirt that women wear here in Malawi. All us ladies picked up one in the market the other day, and will wear them to the government-sponsored parade event tomorrow that Paradiso traditional dancers will be performing in. We haven’t stopped talking about dancing since we arrived in this country (really since we got on the plane) so we’re excited to say the least.
It was truly lovely to dig right into MPALUTI objectives and we are all looking forward to doing what ever we can to support these amazing programs. These CBOs are truly magical to us. The way they aid their communities, the way volunteers apply themselves so selflessly and new projects are constantly being considered, the growth they provide for their communities and accomadations these organizations make is truly phenomenal.
And for thos e of you who are still wondering what in the world Moyo Kukoma means?
The sweet life. That’s what is is to come to a country full of warmth, with people you adore, respect, and trust, and to work with truly inspiring individuals. Accept the cheese people, we’re all a bit mushy in Malawi.