With Eliphaz Salawilla and Agnes Katsonga Phiri

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Blantyre, Malawi
Today spent much of the day with United Church of God deacon Eliphaz Salawilla. He is a man of amazing spiritual strength coupled with humility. He has been faithful for years and has set the pace for the church in Blantyre. He lives in a poor township in Blantyre. A number of other UCG families, including his children, live close by.

He came by at 11:00 am and we discussed the LifeNets projects in greater detail. He is our manager for the various livelihood projects here. The last one was the drilling of a borehole on the property of James Mapinda who lives about a mile from him. This project was financed by my Rotary District of Central Indiana. The well was drilled on his property and provides fresh water for his family and for those around which is many. We are looking forward to seeing the well tomorrow. We were given photos showing people lined up with buckets drawing water. .

Another successful project has been the maize mill LifeNets financed right next to Mr. Salawilla's home. It provides a decent living for three families and a service to the community. We discussed more details about that operation.

We also have scholarships, sewing, knitting, food production and more. One person has a freezer shop. We discussed the various level of success of the other livelihood and scholarship projects. Bev and I have developed a set of policies for the consideration of the various grants and how they will be managed. Overall, we are very pleased for how they are working. We just wanted to make sure that our programs were working and they are! Mr. Salawilla has been exceptional in distributing our funds and keeping track of the progress of the projects.

About 1:30 pm we went to the Curry Corner restaurant at a nearby walled shopping center for lunch. I am saddened by the economic inequities. Our modest lunch for the three of us cost $27, not an unusual amount. However, this is the amount that Mr. Salawilla earns working in telecommunication at a modern western-type hotel in Blantyre that charges $100 a night for rooms. It just doesn't make sense. Ultimately the world must work towards economic parity.

After lunch Mr. Salawailla took the bus to the center of Blantyre to meet Henry Khembo and go to the airport to pick up Bill and Cheryl Jahns who were flying down from Lilongwe where they kept the Day of Atonement.

Bev and I walked back to Chichiri Lodge. We are getting ready for Agnes Katsonga Phiri to take us to her home for dinner. She is the Deputy Commissioner of Excise and Customs for the nation of Malawi. She had been in charge of the all Inland Revenue for the southern half of Malawi. She is Rotary's Assistant District Governor for the nations of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Her husband is a member of Parliament, but was up in Lilongwe.

We had a wonderful dinner. They live in a very fine home on the south side of Blantyre. Another guest was a chicken producer from Holland. Mark Phiri, her husband, is also a major chicken producer along with other businesses. The walls have photos of their daughter who graduated from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She now works for Goldman Sachs in London.

On the way home Agnes took us to her imposing office, a clean government building just across the street from where we are staying. She is the Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Excise for the nation of Malawi.

When we got back we met Bill and Cheryl Jahns. Their room at the Chichiri Lodge is really BAD. There is no other way to describe it. Our room is nothing to shout about, but it is so much nicer. Their ceiling fan is hazard....we called it a floppy fan that looks like it's about to take off. We got a video of it.

Bill and Cheryl couldn't stay in that room and there was nowhere else, so we all stayed in our room in two small beds that were not quite a double, but larger than a single each. Each one had a mosquito net. The next day the Jahns were able to get a better room, but we determined that this is our LAST time at the Chichiri Lodge.
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