Ongs in Malawi

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Blog

Mr Mafunga & Sons

Posted on August 19, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Mulibwanji (how are you?) from Malawi!

We have been here for a month now. How time flies!

These last 4 weeks have been filled with new friends, new language, new sights, new smells, new home...

In some ways, it has been every bit as overwhelming as we had expected. In other ways, it has also been a little less stressful than we had expected. Thanks to the many who have been upholding us in prayer.

We are loving it here, it is a beautiful country with wonderfully warm people. We are loving getting to know the culture and picking up bits of simple Chichewa. We will commence our formal language studies soon.

We have just moved into our home, which we hope will be our home for the next 10 years. We love it. The kids love it. As Teaghan said the other day: "It is beginning to feel more and more like home now". The kids have nicknamed the house the Lego House, because it looks like a blocky lego brick house :)

We are slowly furnishing our new home, one piece of furniture at a time. 

We currently have a carpenter and his 2 sons working on our furniture and living in our backyard (in the 'workers quarters' - a common feature of houses here). When one fo my friends went on the mission field years ago, I used to wonder about how she could afford the luxury of having custom made furniture. Back in Australia, you have to be really wealthy to have your furniture made to order!.... now that we are here 'on the field', I finally understand.

Having furniture made here is not quite the same as the Western world would understand it, furniture is made to order out of necessity rather than to have them made to a custom design. Ready made furniture are hard to find in Malawi, and if found, they are imported and very expensive. So instead of furniture shops, there are carpenters. Carpenters generally don't make a whole lot of furniture in advance to be sold as some just cannot afford the timber without an order. Those who can afford it may make a few items  and sell them by the side of the road. Some of these are made of wood, some out of cane. Ordering your furniture from a carpenter is more or less like the way you would purchase furniture from Ikea, but instead of pulling it off a shelf, they have to go and make it first! 

Making furniture takes time. There is no Bunnings here where carpenters can purchase neatly cut pieces of wood. Instead, they go to a timber yard and purchase rough pieces of wood which then need to be dried in the sun and then planed before being made into anything.

We love the fact that we are supporting a local Malawian. Mr Mafunga our carpenter has 6 kids and live far from where we are, which is why has has to stay with us while he worked on our furniture. He and his two boys sleep on thin mats in the workers quarters and eat mostly nsima (like a maize porridge) for meals. They are doing a fantastic job and I'm enjoying putting my industrial design degree to good use!

Lucas and Caya watching the carpenters work in our backyard

Sketches for the carpenter

Carpenters selling stuff by the road

One of Mr Mafunga's sons working on our chairs

Categories: 2012

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