Tools Maintenance Manual

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Tools manualSome time ago, Donald Manson, a retired teacher of technical subjects, wrote and illustrated a manual to help students of woodwork maintain their tools – chisels, saws, etc. – in good and safe condition. In conversation with John Challis about skills training in Malawi, he offered the manual to the Raven Trust. At the beginning of the year 140 copies of the students’ manual and 15 copies of the teachers’ manual were loaded onto a container and transported to Malawi where John retrieved them during his May visit. He took enough copies to Livingstonia Technical College, Ekwendeni Lay Training College and St John of God Training Workshop in Mzuzu to give every student a copy and every teacher got the teaching manual. The students and teachers were pleased to have these useful booklets – they had had no such resource available to them. Above – students and trainer, Oswald Mhango, at St John of God Training Workshop.

FCL 103 loaded at Dundee

Loading container 103 at DundeeA dry day for the loading of FCL 103 at the Peddie Street store in Dundee. Thank you to all who came to help including Fiona Gunning of the Kwenderana partnership and Lilian and Stewart Mackenzie of Tummel Bridge who visited Malawi with John Challis last year. Only 3 boxes were left behind!

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’

Maize May 2016 (4)Maize is the staple diet of most Malawians. Once ground it is added to water to make nsima, a very thick porridge that is eaten daily by hand. Due to last season’s poor and late rain pattern many countries in southern Africa are facing a severe maize shortage in the coming months. In Malawi the crop is patchy with some areas losing all their maize due to flooding.  A few areas, particularly in the far north of Malawi have a reasonable crop while much of the rest of the country will face great difficulties with very stunted kernels. On the right of the picture is a normal cob of maize, on the left is a typical cob from this year’s crop. While some food aid is getting through to Malawi, distribution is mainly to the towns and villages along the main roads with more isolated villages receiving little or nothing.

Shonga Bridge

Picture2John has been working with the community at Shonga outside Ekwendeni to build a walkway bridge over a stream that floods to a great depth in the rainy season. The river, in the dry season, is only a few feet deep and can be crossed by a  wooden walkway made of tree branches. In the rainy season the whole area floods and the branch bridge is submerged to a depth of 6 feet. To cross this safely, the new walkway bridge has to be above this level so the walkway will be some 9 feet above the old bridge level. The length of the bridge will be 130 feet and was designed by Prof Alan McGown. The foundations and 6 concrete pillars have just been finished.  A lot of  reinforced concrete has been mixed by the community for making the substantial foundations and pillars.  In a few months’ time the decking will be fitted ready for the next rainy season and local people will at last have all-weather access to the main road – saving them a long detour to get to hospital, school, market, work etc

Progress on Water Projects

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring his visit to Malawi in April and May, Kevin Bickerstaffe led a team of water engineers from the PHC department at Ekwendeni and Livingstonia hospitals repairing and maintaining shallow and borehole wells. They have also been erecting fencing around well heads to protect the well head from animal contamination.

John Littlejohn  was also in Malawi,  testing the water quality particularly with regard to coliform bacteria. Next year he hopes to return assess the difference that fencing makes to the water quality readings.

In the two months of Kevin’s visit it is estimated that improved water has been supplied to over 14,000 people.  Some had no clean water supply for years and were using scrapes in the ground as their main drinking water source. One person commented that the new water was a ‘miracle for the village’