Thursday, 26 March 2015

Down came the rains its all happened again

This is a beautiful time of year when the hot dry dusty earth revives to life with plants and the smell of damp freshness.

Everywhere becomes green and fruitful although unfortunately the rains were not long enough, many plants have been stunted and dried without producing the maize plant. This will have severe repercussions for the 80% of Malawian rural dwellers that depend on this food for their livelihoods. Lessons of permaculture and all year round edible crops gives some crucial knowledge to overcome these issues.

My NGO The Landirani Trust use permaculture joint with sustainable building to compliment eachother to ease the cycle of life in the rural villages. The projects are going well. I could blame my work for the 3 month gap.  I have been designing, budgeting and redesigning while collecting recycled materials for some personal projects, creating, making and now we it is the end of March!

Meanwhile I have moved into a new home.

It was only in January , new year when I decided it would be best to rent a house that I realised I’d never had a space of my own. I had always been the person you find staying at everyone’s house on the couch, especially in London and the habit automatically spread to Malawi. I stayed in Landirani accommodation most of the time but found myself dotting around. It was a big decision to move house and stop saving so much money but I have never looked back. Instead of my money going towards UK expenditures I realised I would benefit more here by making a proper home for myself in Malawi. It is not a plot of land but that I can only dream about that at the moment. One step at a time!
It was quite hard to decide where I wanted to live. I knew I wanted to keep the true Malawian vibe and live with people who could teach me more about the language and culture. When I first came to Malawi I had started the intense sessions in the rural village which I absolutely loved then when I came to town I was put into a house with a tall brick wall and guards for high security.

As I kept searching for a house I found a man at the roundabout who was interested to show me the house next door to his. I was happy, there were 2 rooms in the house and a toilet and washroom in the nice spacious courtyard.


I immediately planted some banana trees!

I was also excited to find out the man had 5 daughters that lived next door, I had missed girls. Coming from a family of 4 girls and ending up in a construction job has minimized girl talk.  The man then introduced himself and told me he is the group chief of area 3.  This solved the security issue as people would never burgle the row of houses next to the chiefs house. I remembered when we cycled Cairo to Cape we stopped just before dark to stay in the local villages. People would always start by introducing us to the chief and would then tell us to camp next to his house for security measures.
So I count myself lucky.
I was introduced to 2 guys that lived around the back, Auga and Luxon who are friendly people and then the kids started poking their faces around the wall as I played guitar. These kids live in the 4 houses on the one street. There is no brick wall just tall maize as a barrier from the main road then fruit trees and other vegetation shading the front spaces. All life takes place in the courtyard behind each house. As people became more open and used to me we all started making briquettes, clay ovens or a gutter out of juice cartons.

I have always been interested to see what can be made out of recycled materials. Another incredible factor is that the landlord has said I can do whatever I want to the house as he will be knocking it down in the next 6 months. This is every architects dream! I have one room for sleeping with a storage space and one room for the kitchen seating area. The house and size is perfect. The simplicity and minimalism with my few items means I know where everything is. It is very refreshing and my creative bubble has once again sprouted.I have personalised the spaces in each room.

I have built a rammed earth bench and made my dishes drying rack slanted so the water drops into a plant below.

We made a clay oven. I had the intention of giving some people jobs that have come to my house to ask but I haven’t got as far as setting up the bakery under a tree in the busy road at the front yet.
Now the dry season is just beginning I can start cutting into the corrugated iron sheets to fix plastic bottles with bleach and water to disperse the light through my 2 rooms. The hot season needs a shaded courtyard so I will be making a suspended shaded carpet out of sewing old cement bags then planting many climber plants around to create a green outlook. I am in heaven.
I spoke to my mum once who asked if I was lonely and like in the village, the social culture continues so I am never alone. In fact I enjoy the peace and quiet when everyone is out and I can find time to sit on the veranda and read my book or play guitar.

Let the fun times continue,  I couldn't be happier