Friday, April 20, 2012

A rare treat at staff retreat

By Elias Banda

Full of pleasure and fun, enjoyable and memorable are words describing the two –day staff retreat organized by ADRA Malawi for the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) team at the Lakeshore District of Mangochi. The adventurous program was initially planned for Christmas holiday but failed due to tight program schedules.   Program Manager Emma Jakobo said the staff expedition was organized to be a moment of refreshing, relaxing, sharing experiences and team building.
The ASC team camped at the Nkopola Sunbird Hotel, North of Mangochi town and 2kms off the Mangochi –Monkey Bay Road. The team was drawn from all program targeted districts of Mulanje, Machinga, Mzuzu, Lilongwe and those from the Head Office in Blantyre.
In between the sumptuous meals served at the hotel, the team was engaged in various merriment activities full of fun on the lake side, including beach soccer.
Some team members in front of the marked rock.

On Tuesday, the team took a 30 minutes drive to Cape Maclear to view the natural water front dotted with beautiful islands within Chembe fishing community.  On the way to Chembe the ASC team had a stop -over at a place called Mwala wa mphini in the local language meaning ‘marked stone’. This is one of the many wonders in the area as the huge stone is marked with straight and deep lines believed to have been done by the ancestors. But close range view sparked debate as to what type of equipment the ancestors might have used to come up with the marks. If it was formed by natural forces, how come the structure had patterns of marks as if somebody had arranged them
Team B heading for Thumbi Islan
that way? These were some of the questions that could not be easily answered as team members revolved around the wondrous stone.
After viewing the astounding stone, the ASC team trekked down to the lake side for a two –kilometer boat riding to Thumbi Island where team members viewed the mbuna fish.
The team leant that Lake Malawi has over 1000 fish species including the multi-colored mbuna found around the Thumbi rocks. The evening activities were spiced by team building activities that included Bible Quiz and a presentation on HIV/AIDS.
 During the same time, George Million who has joined the program as Deputy Program Manager was formerly introduced.  George has a strong background in agriculture and his coming in the ASC program would strengthen the food security and livelihood component.
The following day, a beach soccer competition ensued involving four teams. In the preliminary encounter, Machinga beat Mzuzu 1-0 in the post match penalties while Lilongwe scotched Mulanje 1-0.
Machinga emerged winner after beating Lilongwe 3-2 in the final with Elias Banda toping the score sheet by shaking the net three times after making defenders vulnerable.   The winning team and runners up were given trophies later in the evening, courtesy of Emma Jakobo.
In the afternoon, the team visited Koma Crocodile Camp and it was exciting to see crocodiles from infancy stages up to as old as 48. One lesson leant while viewing crocodiles was that just like humans, they are jealousy creatures and males could fight over the females. 

One of the scenes on the beach

The ASC team got another rare treat on Wednesday when the hotel hosted them with dinner, spiced by music and dancing. The excitement and fun reached higher grounds as members took turns invading the dancing floor with incredible styles.  But before the dancing floor was opened, trophies were awarded to the beach soccer winners and the voted most sociable and caring persons in the team. The first prize went to Chikondi Madumuse, followed by Emma Jakobo and third by Neema Kachali and Gift Mwenda.
 Nevertheless, the adventure seemed to be short lived as sadness struck on Thursday morning when it was  time to leave and somber faces manifested as team members bid farewell with tears.  The adventure brought happiness and offered an opportunity for staff members to know and strengthen each other as one family. Levison Maolera, Office Assistant based in Blantyre described it as a moment of learning and sharing and he urged management to consider organizing a similar event in future.

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