After much planning, emailing, more planning, learning, talks with contractors and procuring supplies we have finally begun physical work on the actual factory structure. About a week ago we began excavations, which here means about 50-70 men digging trenches for the footing with hand tools.

The past week has seen Mark out at site more as the head supervisor of the entire operation as Alex works primarily at buying and procuring building supplies - cement, rebar, electrical equipment (including a 200 kVa transformer) and more. The digging and leveling is still and progress and we hope to start pouring concrete for the footing and vertical columns by the end of this week.

Overall, we are pleased with how things are moving along. We chose a new contractor for the building and we are feeling out our new working relationship. It is taking some time and patience to adjust.

It certainly feels good to finally see progress on the factory building itself. We hope to see some reb
 
 
A couple weekends ago we (Julie, Mark and Alex) made a trip to the Mulanje Massif - a monadnock that juts up 6,000 ft out of the surrounding flatland. The raised plateau is about 210 square miles and hosts several granite peaks, the highest of which is 9,900 feet. It is quite spectacular.

We hiked with our guide, George, and our porter, Moota, to a hut that overlooks Chambe Peak. There are about 10 huts up on the massif open to any willing hikers.

We're sure this trip to Mulanje won't we our last! Enjoy the photos...

 
 
Since the shutdown by the D.C. construction has been moving along at a rapid pace.  Our fence is around 50% complete and at this rate should be complete in the next 2-3 weeks.  Pretty amazing considering the fence is solid brick, 3 meters tall (one meter underground) with a concrete footing and 500 meters in length!  To get an idea of why things have been moving along so quickly, with virtually no machinery, you only have to look as far as our time sheet.  Last week we had 80 people working on site, from our contractor and his foreman all the way down to men wheeling wheelbarrows and women carrying water.  Our contractor, Mr. Luphale, has been very patient and flexible through all of the delays and frustrations that we have experienced recently which we have greatly appreciated.  

Along with the fence making great progress we have also finished the plans for the factory building and are getting ready to break ground within the next 2 weeks.  Currently we are asking for quotes from several different contractors and should have a decision made by the end of this week.  We are both very anxious and excited to get started seeing as we have been here 2 months now and still do not have a hole in the ground.  

Aside from work we have been able to do a little traveling, most recently we took a trip to Lake Malawi.  If you have never heard of Lake Malawi I would suggest checking out it's Wikipedia page.  It is quite the amazing place, lush hillsides plunging into the beautiful blue water of Lake Malawi.  We stayed in the small fishing village of Cape Maclear which is on the very southern tip of the lake.  The village has a very laid back attitude, much like that of the Caribbean.  Along with us on the trip were Julie and Christina, two of the other PPB volunteers that we live with at Kabula Hill.  While at the lake we were able to do some snorkeling, swimming, and a lot of relaxing.  The snorkeling is pretty amazing especially when you consider that it is a freshwater lake.  Lake Malawi is home to the most fish species (known for the colorful cichlid species) of any lake in the world!  We both agree that there will be many more trips to the lake in the time that we have left in Malawi.

Looking forward to the next few weeks we are hoping to finish up the fence and begin foundation work on the factory.  We're hoping that it will be smooth sailing from here on out but if there is one thing that we have learned in our first 2 months in Malawi it is that delays are inevitable, our goal is to minimize the amount of them.  
 

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    Mark and Alex are attempting to use their limited experience as factory builders to erect a production facility for Project Peanut Butter in Blantyre, Malawi. Upon completion the factory will produce chiponde, a peanut butter-like paste, to feed children suffering from acute malnutrition.

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