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Thoughts from April 2008

malawi day two

andrew in malawi

Hello.

So, Malawi is off to a flying start. I arrived Saturday and only after slight delay which made the experience that much better. Nairobi airport felt like a market compared to the drab T4 - a busy and bustling African hub. After a day and a night in Lilongwe, eating corn pudding, watching the Chelsea game and bantering with the locals, I set off for Blantyre.

After missing the bus (went to the wrong stop), I met a local woman who took me home to her mum's house and we chatted about business in Malawi, the government and the Banda years. Brilliant to meet the locals which only continued on the cramped and standing 5 hour bus journey to Blantyre. Packed to the hilt with luggage and chilling to the tunes of local gospel, we travelled at speed (with much use of the horn) and I saw this in a market stall as we stopped.

Malawi_blog_1

Beats Shebu . . . a little (picture of the sunrise the next day is better but you'll have to wait for that one).

My first task of the trip was to go and meet Towera - a local business lady who knows lots about juice. She picked me up and took her back to her home where she has built a mini juice factory in her family garage. She's not directly connected with the Microloan Foundation but has lots of experience in Malawian business and fair trade organisations in the country. She introduced me to the wonder that is the Baobab (or Mlambe fruit).

Malawi_blog_2

Armed with learnings from Towera, the next few days are all about investigating the juice market and packaging materials as well as visiting farmers. So much more to tell but I'll leave you with first impressions for now and save all that for later in the week.

Malawi is an amazing country - full of brilliant, smiling, warm people even though it is one of the poorest countries in the world. There is a real gap in income between the rich and poor - I talked to people who support their family on less than £10 per month. Because the country has fewer natural resources than its neighbours there appears to be a real lack of opportunity for everyone which is such a difference from the UK and is humbling.

People like Towera are really driving change here but much of peoples' outlook is a legacy of it's history and the political situation here is not as stable as it could be. I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks as I see the work the Microloan foundation is carrying out and understand more about this beautiful place.

Andrew D

lee dixon

International man of mystery, purveyor of fine art and for those who don't know him, talented right back for Arsenal and England.

Football_2

Lee took a break from the sofas of Match of the Day 2 last week to visit us here at Fruit Towers.

He's a relative of our very own Paul B and popped down with his best mate for a bit of a nosey. He was also kind enough to sign the football we use for a kickabout after work.

His slide tackles may not be as sharp as they used to be but he's not lost his knack for felt tip faces.

(Posted by Joe M)

little visitor

We see this little fox from time to time.

Foxy

He likes to sleep on cars outside Fruit Towers.

Foxy2

Meera saw his mate on a bus recently

Foxy3

He was on his way to Camden.

bye bye matt

Ops_matt

After 2 years, 86 pairs of trousers and countless broken hearts, Ops Matt is off to pastures new.

Knitted_love

Matt and his trousers have been a regular, much loved feature of our blog and weekly newsletter and we're going to miss his cheeky face lots.

In the time he's been at innocent, we've visited his local village fete and even made friends with his mum, who made this special family album blog just for her youngest son.

Here's just a few of the things Matt's fans here are going miss about the man who took trouserwearing to a whole other level.

Daisy_and_ginger_sarah

Mark_and_jim

Eleanor_and_fliss

Andrew_and_ed

Thanks for the good times, Ops Matt. We'll miss you lots.

(Feel free to leave your own farewell message for Matt below. He'll no doubt be checking)

ted, our blogging hero

This is Ted.

Ted_2

Ted is in charge of our blog. When we came up with the idea for the AGM, Ted said that we should blog about it, lots. So he did. In the last few weeks Ted has made sure that we wrote no less than 42 blog posts and 293 Twitters about the AGM. On the actual day Ted was glued to his laptop, twittering and blogging for everyone that couldn't be there in person.

Here are three things that you probably didn't know about Ted:

-Today Ted is wearing purple and green stripy socks

-He was born in Haverfordwest, in Wales

-Ted isn't actually his real name

Ted_blogging

So we'd like to say thanks to Ted. The AGM wouldn't have happened without him.

p.s A case of smoothies will go to the person who can guess Ted's real name. You've got until Friday 2nd May at 9am to post your answers as comments, and then Ted will draw all the correct answers out of a hat.