Chandiwo Village, Malawi … Our Isuzu pulled away from the lodge in Lilongwe around 8:10 in the morning and headed north through the early morning traffic. Our destination was a few kilometers north of the Mponela Trading Center. The man-made reservoir was just west of M-1, which is the main highway north and south through the country. After leaving the tarmac we rode down a narrow dirt path for less than 5 minutes and there it was.

There was the light smell of reed-lined, lake water as we exited the vehicle and the heat of the Malawi dry season hung heavy over our path.  One by one members of the local committee came to greet us. It was all taking place near the northeast side of the reservoir, and the home of the people who owned the reservoir. To ensure the safety of the Project AfP and the village leaders solicited the owners to be part of the program, and to be part of it they have volunteered to assure the safety on the fish cages from any type of vandalism or theft.

A wooden dugout was used to reach the fish cages that rested on the sundrenched surface of the lake. One man used a long pole to navigate the boat, while a younger man leaned across the bow to pull in a single cage. One by one they were pulled close to the shoreline so the waiting men could harvest the fish from shallow water.

Three years ago, Jan Dean, an expert in this type of fish management made a trip to Malawi to evaluate the possibility of putting in fish farms. He urged both government as well as local communities to work together in the stocking and feeding of 10 large cages of fingerlings. Both sides agreed and before he left the country, he gave instructions on how the cages should be prepared and a digest of information about the care of the fish.

It sometimes appears that a program is not going to materialize, but time and again, while Malawians work at a different pace than Americans or Europeans, they work with organized skill and very effective for the local environment. Someone once said if you want to kill a program in America, form a committee, while in Malawi if you want to get it done you must give them time to form a committee. Malawians were given that time and today the wisdom in that decision was showing its strength.

Jan, who has traveled to several parts of the world doing exactly this kind of work helped encourage the Malawians and their government to work on building and stocking the initial ten cages of fingerlings. The fruit from his effort could be seen as the Action for Progress vehicle pulled up to a grocery store in Lilongwe and delivered a major portion of the nearly 1,000 pounds of fish that had been harvested.

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