Today we got to explore the city of Lilongwe. We went to Freedom Gardens, a sustainable garden. The farm was started in 1982 by an economist and teacher who had no formal knowledge of farming. The couple wanted security with food so they decided to begin a farm. They started small with 100 square meters of land granted to them by the chief. It is now run by their son, Daniel who is 26. Daniel was educated through college and came back to run the farm when his father passed. This is rare in Malawi. Most people, if they are educated, continue to go on and work for the government. But Malawi needs their educated people to help people like them directly. And that is what Daniel does.
Freedom gardens rotates crops and never depends on external imports such as fertilizer and pesticides. They make their own from basic ingredients such as ash, maze, aloe, leaves, etc. The irrigation system is natural as well. It is made out of horizontal wells and basins. This type of farming is called permaculture—a holistic approach to farming and the environment. It manages wastes instead of getting rid of it and allows people to use the land, instead of their own capital to find food security.
Freedom Gardens led by Daniel gives tours, lectures and seminars to nearby and international farmers. The country of Malawi could find their way out of poverty one step at a time if they were educated about permaculture.
After our tour of Freedom Gardens we went to a local market for some “shopping.” It was more like the needy people of Malawi asking us to “check out my stand” and/or begging for money. It was really hard not to give the begging mother with a baby on her back and another in her hand cash. But the people of Malawi need resources to sustain themselves long term. They need resources such as education if they are ever going to get out of the cycle of dependency. Daniel’s main piece of advice, “start small”
When we got back to Annie’s lodge, we got ready for our “night out.” Peter decided to throw us a party (He’s crazy and likes to flaunt his money). He wouldn’t tell anyone the location exvept Dr. Kelly. After a 30 minute bus ride we ended up a Kimbali Lodge/Resort. This is the place where Madonna stayed during her trip to Malawi to adopt her second child. It was awesome! There was an outdoor restaurant, patio, bar and dance area. We were provided dinner (chicken and rice, AGAIN) and enjoyed some drinks. We got to know each other a lot better during this time and I’ve come to enjoy the personalities of these people. After dinner was a poetry reading. A young gentlemen named Q read some of his works. He raised awareness of the poverty of Malawi and the presence of HIV and AIDS through his poems. These poems are his way of fighting for human rights and social justice.
Next were tribal dances. It may sound strange (but if you really know me, not so much), these dances made me tear up. The dancers had nothing and they were smiling and laughing. I think the best part of the night is when they asked us to join in. I’ve never felt so freeze (and not awkward) dancing. It was wonderful.
I learned a lot today. One day can definitely make a difference.