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Thoughts from February 2009

an update from malawi

Andrew

Last April, our Andrew D spent two weeks in Malawi, helping out the Microloan Foundation (one of the organisations supported by the innocent foundation).

A few weeks ago, I was on holiday in Malawi myself and was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Joseph and Joseph from Microloan to see some of the great work they're continuing to do out there.

The Microloan Foundation provides small loans and business advice to women in Malawi and Zambi which allow these women to start up small businesses in their local communities, selling rice, tomatoes, bananas and so on.

Meeting

The women then form small groups and are collectively responsible for re-paying the loans. This helps them learn about money management and means they receive a lump sum at the end with which to improve their family and community lifestyle.

Agreement

One of the loan agreements

I met Joseph and Joseph in Rumphi, Northern Malawi, to attend a repayment meeting in a local village. These meetings take place fortnightly and each member of the group is expected to repay their share of the loan and make their savings.

Having driven for an hour along a dusty track, we were greeted with the sound of singing from the women, who were singing about how grateful they were to Microloan for improving their lives.

Meeting2

After the repayments had taken place, we then had a Q&A session where I got to find out how the opportunity to run their own businesses had affected their lives. All the women agreed unanimously that their lives had changed for the better as they were now able to provide for their families, without having to solely rely on their husbands for support.

Helen and friends

Annie told me that her biggest wish for next year was to save up enough money to buy a proper bed, instead of the mat she currently sleeps on.

Last year, Microloan made 22,000 loans to 11,000 women like Annie, helping them set up profitable businesses and accumulate around about £15 in savings each. £15 might not sound like a lot but these savings helped look after 66,000 dependents.

This year Microloan are looking to expand in Malawi, Zambia and Namibia with the aim of helping over 100,000 people work their way out of poverty by Christmas.

So hopefully, along with Microloan's support, Annie will be sleeping soundly and comfortably come December.

(Posted by Helen)

blind cheese

The theme for today's Cheese Club was Cheese dans le Noir.

Members were blindfolded with paper towels

Blindfolded

Then served a variety of cheese

Waiting

Asked to savour, deliberate and not slobber

Cheese please

Challenged to eat salad, serve chutney and select crackers (without getting any down their jumpers)

Oh the power

And provide Tom no end of amusement as he served them bits of butter instead of cheese.

Of all the cheeses served, the winning cheese was Montgomery's Cheddar and ne'er a more fun lunchtime was had in these fair grassy halls, than with a few lumps of cheese, some cherry tomatoes and a big fat wodge of blue toilet roll.

ukulele idol

Do you recognise this man?

Rod

Well for those of you who came along to our fete last summer, you might recall this handsome chap as Mr. Rod Thomas, who was strumming his ukulele at about 2 o'clock on the Sunday on The Acoustic Bandstand stage.

As well as working the sports casual look rather well, he's also just won Best Ukulele Video of the Year award , which features another rather fetching jumper and some very friendly socks.

You can listen to more of Rod's ear candy here or simply just kick back and watch his award winning video (and jumper) below:

whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother

Every now and again we have a hunt about on the marvelous youtube to see if anyone has tagged a video with anything to do with us. It's normally worth a root about as you can come across some little gems like this, this, this and this.

And now let us please present to you this wonderful homemade animation that's brightened up our Thursday morning no end.

Could you feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'?