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Beads & Solar Cooking

Makungula was simply humming!….and lots of singing, as the women worked and were trained, they made up songs about what they were learning and about us as facilitators…one would sing out the message in Chichewa; then the whole group would chime in on a chorus.

A friend from Napa Valley came with her husband who is doing dental training in Lilongwe…and we had made arrangements for her to teach Solar Cooking.  Claudia is a certified chef–Paris and has done TV and writing; lovely Christian and done some projects for the UN….so she had researched and made templates and brought necessary materials to get us started. Mary and I went to Blantyre Packaging and bought 3′ x 4′ carton board and  special glue to adhere the heavy duty foil. !0 of the women made the solar shields.

Then, Claudia had asked if she could bring a potter friend!!  YES!….you know how I have always wanted to try a bead-making activity with the village women–it happened!!!  Teri, the potter from Napa, was great…taking 10 of the women and having brought tools proceeded to get them making clay beads of all shapes and sizes….how to make them uniform, smooth and possibly ‘marketable’.  Each of the women brought clay they had dug from their villages so we have many different hues…and when they are fired they will have more colors as we will throw cow dung, different barks and leaves in to get various colors and designs.

The Makungula Organizing Committee were wonderful!  They dug the pit for firing and helped set up.  You all can be so proud of the villages you support….as they were all so committed to a successful training and possible income generating from the beads and better nutrition with no deforestation from the solar.  We worked all together from 8AM to 5PM for 2 days….our SAFE driver picking up all the women along the highway as they had walked in from their villages. Then, we supplied a ‘tea break’/refreshments and later a lunch of grilled chicken which all were very happy with.

But the joy for me was to see the JOY of the LORD in all involved–At the conclusion, with prayer and tears, we left with the facilitators giving a solar ‘kit’ and pot to each village, wooden spoons and pens.  They all know how to do the ‘cooking’—as Claudia set up 4 solar shields…but God didn’t give us sun….so all will test their kits in their villages. ( This is our cool season….really cold for us and so we had to be all bundled up…then, huddled in front of our fireplace upon our return to our home.)

But, the women were all VERY motivated to use the shields and black pots we gave them (the latter was an ‘experience’!….as Mary and I couldn’t find black pots necessary for retaining the heat; but, Claudia, Teri and I went to our open-air Zomba market and had a boy make us 12 pots of galvanized steel sheets, then had a local man paint them black the night before the training.  Can you believe?!?  It was really God providing as the boy had them made by 4PM the same day….good, sturdy and with a lid for $4.00 each.  Its Africa!!!  There are ingenious and creative people who use what they have!!  Since there is no fire, but the heat comes from the sun….the painted pots worked!

As for the beads—the 10 ‘bead-makers’ didn’t take any ‘breaks’—so motivated and some were local ‘potters’ and before we knew it….they were making flower pots from their local clay…they are lovely and when dry will be fired in the pit.  AND—we have hundreds, no thousands of clay beads!!  Teri took some back to Napa where she will use commercial glazes to get various colors and designs.  She is so interested that she wants to help us with the marketing if the firing is successful.  This could be the income generating activity (IGA) we have needed for village women…..pray with us!  To dream of a small electric kiln, we could really make lovely colored beads….but God knows where this will go!  As for the ‘way forward’, as we say in Malawi.

Mary and I worked all day yesterday on a proposal in to the Irish Aid organization who are calling for efficient village ‘stoves’ to reduce the smoke inhalation and deforestation….sooo, isn’t God’s timing great! ?!  We will use all 10 villages in our proposal, plus training in Kachindamoto and northern villages.  We envision a ‘multiplication’ effect with those trained, each training 4 more in their villages….and with 4 series of trainings, we could have over 5,000 women trained to use solar energy!!! Yea!…and Yea, God….for the sun!

So, pray with us that the Lord will give us wisdom as we put our proposal together,,,,it is due June 30….and that it will be granted.  If we get the grant, we would begin right away with trainings, continuing until March 31, 2014.  The village committees, gogos, SAFE Youth and preschool caregivers in all of our 16 projects will be the ones to make it successful….so do pray for ‘vision’ and ‘commitment’ by the villages…..and success as they solar cook!

What a joy this week has been….I took the 2 gals to Blantyre to the bus for Lilongwe where they fly to the States….they were in tears and said this had been a high-light of their lives…..wonderful to see how God uses each of His own in their uniquenesses and talents!!!

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