On Wednesday morning, Kusamala staff and interns, Mtendere Co-operative members, and our Scottish JANEEMO partners, loaded up the Kumbali bus and headed for Mdela Village in Central Malawi’s Dowa District. Excitement was high as we filled all of the seats and aisles with participants, many of who had never been to Dowa before.
The trip was organized as a part of the JANEEMO project as a kick off for the upcoming tree-planting season. Our timing couldn’t have been better as the villages got their first rains of the season the evening before!
We arrived in Mdela and were greeting with songs and smiles from the women of the fourteen JANEEMO clubs in the area. After initial greetings, we were taken on a long tour of the surrounding nurseries and clubs. We viewed three different tree nurseries, existing jatropha boundaries and moringa stands, a home permaculture garden, and a newly constructed fishpond. It was very inspiring to see all of the hard work and commitment within the communities.
The tour was followed by speeches and, as a special treat, a skit put together by one of the JANEEMO clubs. During the speeches we heard from JANEEMO farmers, who discussed how the program was impacting them and their community, traditional leaders, and representatives from Kusamala, and JANEEMO Scotland. We all agreed that the highlight of the ceremony was the play, which followed the story of two men, one who cut down trees and one who planted them. Without giving away the whole plot, the tree planter came out ahead in the end!
Once the speeches were over, Eston gave a quick lesson on proper methods for pitting and planting trees while our special guests from Scotland, Lilongwe, and the communities planted the first trees of the season.
A quick yet delicious lunch preceded a roundtable discussion between the club chairpersons, JANEEMO, and Kusamala about their vision for the project and how they see it being implemented within their communities. Though the session was brief, it proved useful and inspiring, providing JANEEMO staff with insights, ideas, and inspiration for the future of the project. After a full day of events, we loaded the bus and headed home to Lilongwe. Though we were tired from the long day, we left inspired by the motivation and dedication of the communities and hopeful for the development potential within them.