Shari recently wrote to us, updating of her trip so far, below is her note. Continue following Shari’s experiences at shariblanch.wordpress.com.
I am currently in the south of Malawi in the small town of Luchenza, just outside of Blantyre. It is here I’m visiting the organisation known as FOCHTA (pronounced ‘foshta’) – ‘Friends Of Claude Ho in Thyolo (pronounced ‘cholo’) Association’. FOCHTA have almost completed building a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) for young adults to develop their skills and improve their chances of future employment. The centre was designed by Sam Crawford Architects (Sydney) and has been in the process of design & construction for approximately 5 years.
My time is being spent helping the project manager (Australian architect Brendan Worsley, working on behalf of Sam Crawford) on the finishing details of the project as the building is almost complete in construction. Brendan is an excellent mentor and I’m learning so many new architectural skills. On top of this, I am beginning to understand some of the intricacies of construction in Malawi.
Some difficulties include the sourcing of specific materials, the difference in skill level of builders compared to those in Australia, differences with necessary certifications and WH&S.
Luckily here education is extremely important and most people speak a good level of English, even those in trades that would not normally be expected to speak English (very different to Tanzania where the less educated seemed to be employed in the construction industry). This makes it much easier for external architects to communicate and perform their tasks more efficiently.
I will depart Malawi at the end of June and make my way to Cape Town in South Africa. Here I will be volunteering my time to assist a build Habitat for Humanity during the month of July.