On a recent ecotourism visit to Joseph’s boatyard on Lake Malawi we were taught some local boat-building methods. We were amazed at how much skill the boat builders have; given a lack of modern tools, they use unique methods to create wonderfully made wooden fishing boats.
In the picture below, a boat’s hull is being sealed using a special string material called auckum. This special string is used as a sealant in order to make the boat water proof. The wood used for making the hull is called Mulanje cedar, which is found only on Mulanje Mountain in Malawi. It can last for over 25 years because of its oily nature, which makes it ideal for fishing boat use!
Besides running a successful boatyard Joseph is passionate about preserving the environment in his country and has set up a youth group in the village that works with the community to plant trees, for the future of the boatyard is heavily dependent on the precious cedar wood they use to make the boats. With deforestation being such a major problem in Malawi, Joseph’s initiative is a way to ensure his business will continue for years to come.
The youth group Joseph set up also works to inform locals on different topics, such as HIV/AIDS or the importance of education. It even manages a small library that provides local young people with a place to study and free reading material. We love the way the project has been started by the community and the commitment Joseph has to the village.