Friday, August 7, 2015

The Chikapa's New Home--George's Post

When we first arrived in Blantyre in early November 2014, the Chikapas were working on their new home high on Mt. Soche, with the exterior brick walls and roof in place.  Many of you will recognize the Chikapas--a household of four.  President Chikapa, who has been in the Church for 10 some years, is the branch president in Zingwangwa and a returned missionary from Kenya.  He is an absolutely wonderful local leader, fully invested in the branch, constantly on the go, shuttling between his job in Limbe, taking on piece work to earn extra money, visiting with members and working on his house.  While he has done much of the work on his home himself--typical here in Malawi, he has also acted much like a general contractor, hiring others to help out, because of his busy schedule.  Sister Chikapa is from Uganda, also a returned missionary from Kenya (where they met).  She is a counselor in the District Young Women's organization and, like her husband, is constantly on the move.  She and President Chikapa speak English in the home, since Chichewa is not her native language, though she now gets along pretty well with the local dialect, after having been here for a number of years.  They have one son--Nimrod--who is about the age of Joel and Stephanie's twins--close to three--we are constantly watching him with the thought we are seeing roughly the development of our twins.  Nimrod is an active little fellow, often at loose, certainly at Church when his parents are tied up with their church callings.  Most Malawian children are surprisingly passive when compared to their US counterparts--but that is not true of Nimrod.  Having seen so many "azungu" missionaries, he is comfortable around us, and, when he is not down with the sniffles, is willing to sit on our laps at Church.  The fourth member of the household is Time, a 12 year old nephew of the Chikapas, who has been living with them for some time.  
The second week in Malawi Carole and I joined Elders Hiltbrand and Chiliza and Sisters Komiha and Rasband for a service project at the Chikapa's home site. Their parcel sits about 200 to 300 feet above the lower road ending at the Seventh Day Adventist Church and a local secondary school, and is accessed by this dirt path.  The path is rutted, steep and the footing treacherous, especially in the rain.

These several pictures give you a feeling for the terrain.  It is not a easy hike up and takes us about 5 to 10 minutes of steady hiking to get to the Chikapa's home site.

Great views over Blantyre from the top--Mount Ndirande in the distance on the far right.  Our task for the day--moving home-made bricks from a pile above the site down to the property.  The bricks will be used to add on an additional room to the original plan, construct the interior walls and the outbuilding the Chikapas will use as a toilet and bathroom.

The type of construction you see is typical for this area--although many of the homes in the area do not use "fired" bricks and do not have plastered walls.  Unlike the Pacific Northwest, "timber" is at a premium here, and is utilized only for the roof tresses. 

Carole, in normal attire, on the path high on Mt. Soche.   As you can see, she is always game for an adventure, though climbing the hills around Blantyre, can be exhausting and a tad treacherous at night or in the rain.  Climbing is not her favorite sport.  Both of us have had a few spills, but fortunately have been spared a twisted ankle or sprained knee.

By mid-July 2015, the Chikapas were ready to move from their rental home in Chilobwe to the new home in Chimwandkhunda.  Given the logistics, they arranged to stage the move over several days.  The next three photos are of loading our truck up for one of shuttle runs.

The Chikapas "stayed" in a comfortable little home in Chilobwe before the move.  I was surprised to learn the other day that President Chikapa had lived there for a number of years after returning from his mission.  With the landlord's consent, he also used the home for his "chicken" raising project--he used the profits to cover his college fees.  He has some very funny stories to tell about raising chickens.  He plans to raise chickens at the new home site but this time around not in the same living quarters, but in a separate building yet to be constructed.

Sister Chikapa with the first load to the new house.  Brother Chimaliro, second counselor in the branch presidency, and a painter by trade, is on the roof.

The Chikapas elected to have the roof painted blue.  Now it is possible to spot their home easily from lower on the mountain.  President Chikapa's elder brother, who lives and works in South Africa, brought the solar panel from South Africa, when he came back home a couple of weeks ago to marry a Malawian girl.  It generates enough energy for lights and the TV.  President Chikapa plans, however, to link up with the public power lines when the utility finally brings up the lines with a couple of new poles.  He hopes to make the connection sometime within the next year.

The concrete gutter ringing the house is to divert the rain water--which is certainly needed during the rainy season.  Once when helping at the Chikapas, we were stuck for a couple of hours in a bad storm, waiting for the rain to abate. 

The day I helped with the move, the Chikapas enlisted the help of nephew Time and two of their workers, to act as porters moving the household goods up to the home.

This is the secondary school below the home, and close to the path to the Chikapas, which is as far as we can drive up the hill. 

Here are the three intrepid porters, "Time" to the far left.  Time is a very funny-loving pre-teen, and the Chikapas have to ride herd on him to keep him at his school work.


President Chikapa at his home, a week later, when we visit the Chikapas when Tomicah is in town.

A nice view of the finished home.   Just like home, the last job is the landscaping.  Sister Chikapa is looking to plant some flowers off to the left where you see the small mounds of soil.

This ditch is above the house site.  It will be filled with crashed rock as a base and large slabs in a dry stacked wall, which will be used to divert water away from the house.
In short order, Tomicah got the hang of it and was ready to adopt the Malawian way of transporting goods.

Tomicah and President Chikapa.

This was one of many large boulders at the site.   To crack up the rock, Malawians build a fire at the base, sometimes burning rubber, and then throw cold water on the heated rock.  The rock slabs are then used for the dry stack walls.

As you may be able to tell, Nimrod has the sniffles and wasn't very chipper this day.  Usually he is full of mischief.

In the new house and most of the moving and packing done.