Monday, February 12, 2007

Bernard's Big Little Dream

Bernard’s Big Little Dream

It was nice to have a day off and to finally get to walk through the city of Blantyre. I found the Alibaba Takeaway restaurant located “along Haile Selassie Road” as the menu identifies the location. The “BBQ Pizza” was as good as any BBQ pizza I’ve ever had. The BBQ meant that it had bits of steak on it.
I sat in the corner table where the order counter and display case meets the wall. Bernard Madeya came in with his carafe of fish came in. He set it on the counter and spoke to one of the employees. While he waited for the employee to get the bigger boss, I complimented him on his fish and asked him about them.
“They’re a lot like goldfish, but they’re not gold and they don’t get as big. I’m seeing if the restaurant would want to have some fish here for people to look at and enjoy.”
He explained that he could build a very nice aquarium and he could come in a couple of times a week to service the fish.
It took a while, but he finally agreed to sit with me while I ate my BBQ pizza with a fork. He refused my offer to buy him lunch or at least something to drink.
We talked. Here’s what I learned:
Bernard was born in Mawali but moved to Zimbabwe when his parents divorced. His father ran a small trade school of some kind. Bernard finished high school in Zimbabwe and then went into the military there. When he got out, he accepted a scholarship to attend a university in India where he earned a degree in zoology. He returned to a now-peaceful Zimbabwe (during the time he was in the military, he was providing security to defend against guerrillas who were involved in the fight for independence).
Bernard worked for the nation’s parks department and later taught science.
In 2004, his father died and left Bernard the property where the school had been. Bernard rented out the main building to a church and another part to a mechanic. He moved into the little living area behind the building with his wife and three children.
Bernard’s dream is to create gardens and nurseries at schools and orphanages where the children can learn how plants grow. They can also raise food.
But his dream is bigger, however. He also wants to install fish ponds and cages where the children can raise rabbits and chickens and other animals. He said he was inspired when he visited his son’s school and discovered that the children had to sit on the floor during lectures. He realized that outsiders needed to help. Carpenters could volunteer to make benches and desks, he said, but since he’s not a carpenter, he wants to make gardens, ponds and nurseries.
He asked if I wanted to see his gardens at this home. I think he was surprised when I said I would certainly like that.
We called a taxi.
I only had a few minutes there, but it was enough to see his seedlings, his banana trees, his rabbits and chickens and the hole he had dug for water.
Bernard also showed me a brochure with pictures of the greenhouse he wants to buy one day to nurture the plants he’ll one day put in the schools’ gardens.
He was in the city to visit the local garden club. I told him I’d share his contact information in case anyone had ideas for him or knew of some organization that might want to sponsor one of the gardens in conjunction with the garden club.
For what it’s worth:
Bernard Madeya
P.O. Box 989
Blantyre, Malawi

He said anyone could reach him through the Blantyre City Garden Club, P.O. Box 51410, Limbe, Malawi. Their e-mail address is

He’s quite a nice man. Posted by Picasa

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