“Greetings from Malawi, and in particular Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative in Mzimba. We send our love and joy to you!”
So began the exciting audio message from Canaan Gondwe updating me on the transformation in his community after receiving a grant to bring the internet to their village.
The installation process, perhaps unsurprisingly, was a bit rocky. First, the tower grid near their rural area in northern Malawi had never been upgraded and so was using 2G! Then, of course, there was the weak internet signals, which “after one hour or two comes back to be stable!” They were able to switch to a company using 3G, though persistent power blackouts across the country still affect the signal.
“Members of the community are able to send emails just in their community”
After listing the challenges, Canaan continued, “But all in all, let me say that internet access is available, at our premises, and machines are working very well.
“Members of the community and staff are able to send emails just in their community at our offices, and then people come to print and photocopy their documents. Also, some students come to download some of the books using this internet access. Some youth also come to the centre to learn some computer skills, which is in line with one of our agenda to empower the youth to grow.
Canaan Gondwe and Manyamula COMSIP Secretary Matthews using laptops outside the cooperative building.
“Let me also say that these times we don’t travel 44km (27 miles) to Mzimba District Headquarters. Working class in this community don’t travel 44km to access the internet. Hence, this helps to reduce costs.”
The cooperative also charges a small fee for people to use this internet and computer, so that they are able to generate revenue for their cooperative and to keep the internet café open.
“This is community development”
Canaan concludes with his usual flourish. “This is excellent indeed. Let me come to thank you, Tanya Cothran, and Spirit in Action International, for this facility. It is a facility that is beautifying our premises. Patronage of the people to the cooperative is a big issue now, because now and again we have people knocking at our doors asking for these services and of the internet.
“This is transformation. If we talk of community development, this is community development. And I wish to congratulate SIA for thinking about us in such a way. You’ve really traveled with us; you’ve really taken us from that lower level together. And together we have grown, and together we are becoming stronger. We thank you, we bless you, we wish you all the best.”
I’ll be traveling to Malawi in June and I’ll send photos of the new facility then!
Checking Facebook in Malawi. Think complaining about internet speed is only a #firstworldproblem??