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Thoughts from May 2008

the last blog from malawi

andrew in malawi

Two weeks is up and I'm on my way back to the UK.

From seeing the great work the Microloan Foundation are doing to working with fledgling businesses and spending time with the warm, friendly Malawian people, it's been an incredible experience and I'm really grateful to have had this opportunity.

I spent my last few days visiting some newly established groups in Southern Malawi where the Microloan Foundation have recently set up new offices. It was good to compare this to the other groups I'd visited who have already been through more than one loan cycle.

The new groups had smaller businesses and were less diversified which is quite natural when you have less money to invest. What was constant in both new and established groups was the desire to earn a better living either for themselves and their families.

Cassava
One business involved selling small quantities of beans, maize and cassava.

My favourite moments from the overall trip are far too many to list but the laughter I got from trying to dance at Chigwirizano is definitely up there.

Dancing

Both from me and the ladies.

Saying all this, it's not going to stop here. After an almost teary* goodbye to Alfred, we're going to speak regularly and make sure the juice business is on track against our plan. The next important step is to get accreditation from the Malawi Bureau of Standards so I spent Saturday reading through some rather dull paperwork and compiling a list of all the actions needed to get the factory in shape.

I'll keep you updated on progress over the coming months and there'll be a short video once I've had time to do my washing and take in the last couple of weeks.

Thanks so much for reading and for all tips people sent in about eating Marmite to ward of the mozzies - it worked a treat.

Andrew D

*me not him

an apology

This is Andrew W.

Andrew_w

Andrew works in our logistics team, getting stuff from A to B and knowing his way round spreadsheets.

This is Ian (on the right in the red apron).

Ian

Ian is Andrew's dad. He manages a paint company in Texas, loves old rock music and any sport involving a bat.

Andrew forgot his dad's birthday last week.

Andrew has something he'd like to say:

juan the cartonera

Img_22281

Our Gav is on his travels and is sending us the odd thing of interest now and then. Here's something from Argentina:

"Meet Juan, a cartonera from Buenos Aires. He works from 8pm until 2am recycling every night. There are hundreds of these guys around the city going through rubbish bags separating the plastics from the metals from paper. Juan deals mostly in white paper as the value is higher. He gets through a whopping 80kg per day.

Some cartoneras are joined by their wives and children, and through my western eyes it's sad to see whole families rummaging around in other people's rubbish. But it's a means to an end, and helps the environment as well. And on a local level, it's invaluable to a city where recycling isn't exactly compulsory."

say hello to chemo man

Chemoman1_3

Richard "Wildman" Wildman has been an innocent institution ever since he started working here (and especially after his legendary performance in the panto at our Christmas party.) So we were stunned to find out that Rich has been diagnosed with cancer (a form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is a form of cancer of the lymphatic system).

In true Wildman style, he has met his illness head on. For one thing, he has created an alter ego – Chemo Man (pictured above). You can buy Chemo Man t-shirts, beer mugs and other gear right here. Rich is also blogging the ups and downs of his treatment - definitely worth a read.

It was tough to know whether this post was relevant to our blog, and tough to write about something that's very personal for Rich and his family. But Rich was up for us talking about his exploits and linking to his blog (he's up for having a few more readers), and we hope that all innocent drinkers and blog visitors join us in giving Rich plenty of support for the rest of his treatment, which he's halfway through.