In the meantime we've continued to push along our architect in hopes of finally having detailed building plans in our hands. He most recently told us that we should have them by next Tuesday, March 19. A lot is waiting on those plans, like getting quotes from building contractors for construction of the factory and developing an electrical and water/plumbing plan. Yesterday we received word that we could restart construction so the fence is back underway...for now. We also received word that the main cement manufacturer here is shutting down production for 2 weeks, so we're making sure we have a decent stockpile of cement in case 2 weeks turns into a month. As of right now we hope to start pouring the factory foundation by April 15. The betting books are open for over/under bids.
But enough about the building - especially as there isn't much that's new. We figure some of you may be curious about what we experience day to day outside of our job. We live on a property owned by an Indian man and his son - Tochi and Tinu. Together they run a paint business called Monolux Paints. Right now there are 5 other girls living there with us - Claire, Betel, Taylor, Julie and Christina. The 7 of us are split between two houses - Up house and Middle house. Down house has seen better days and is currently under renovation. We have electricity about 95% of the time and water about 70%, however Middle house has a holding tank so we have some reserve when the water is out. The houses are quite nice by Malawian standards and we are fortunate to live in such a nice area.
Claire and Betel have been here for about 6 or 7 months while Taylor and Julie arrived with us. All 4 of them will leave around May 1. Christina arrived on March 2 and will be here until June 1. All the girls are here through the Saint Louis Nutrition Project (SLNP), the organization that technically runs the clinics. (Project Peanut Butter is primarily involved with the production of chiponde, not the distribution of it or running clinics). They divide up about 5 or 6 clinics a week between them. They leave at 5:30am with a driver and nurses and drive anywhere from 45 mins. to 3 hours to the various clinic sites. We usually leave for work around 7:30 or 8:00am, so in general things end pretty early during the week at Kabula Hill.
This past Monday, March 11, we took advantage of our lull in construction to join the girls for a clinic. Betel and Claire are traveling in Zambia right now so we essentially took their place. It was a nice change of pace and great to see the countryside and villages. The area we went to is called Chikwawa, and even though it's only about an hour or two away, it is about 3,000 feet lower in elevation and considerably warmer. We helped when we could but were mostly assumed the role of photographers. Alex brought his soccer ball and kicked around with some of the grade school kids as the clinic was winding down.
Next weekend we plan to head to Lake Malawi with Taylor, Julie and Christina for some relaxation. We have reservations at a hostel/lodge right on the lakeshore in a town called Cape Maclear. We look forward to seeing more of Malawi.