At a quick glance, Bondo village looks pretty well and bustling with life. It is flashy and livable thanks to a few iron roofs that dot the village's dusty roads.
On a closer look, however, Bondo, which is precariously nestled on the very belly of Mount Mulanje, tells a different story.
Quite certain, it lies begrimed and broken. The adjectives "poverty-stricken" and "remote" seem to attach themselves to the name Bondo.
In those two words, the giant of the village is dismissed as worthless. Obviously, the village's tale of darkness, despair and frustration seems to stretch as far as anyone can see. To begin with, Bondo-which comprises of seven smaller villages-has never had electricity.
Save for its running water-whose pipes are all faulty and leaky-the village, in the words of its group village headman, is "something like a world eternally lost and dark".
Of course darkness, want and misery remain the main features encompassed by Bondo. And a dearth in electricity in the area signifies a constant source of worry and hopelessness among the villagers.
"Every week I walk a long distance to mill maize at the outskirt of El dorado tea plantation. It's a headache, really," complains Terezina Mederiko, one of the villagers here.
From Mederiko's home it is a 10 kilometer journey to a place connected to the national power grid.
Another villager, 23-year-old Agnes Kilo and a mother of two, looks beyond the milling errand. She's rather concerned with maternity matters.
She bemoans: "With the absence of electricity in the village, especially at Bondo Health Centre, delivery is often compromised. It's always risky to deliver in the dark or under kerosene light."
Kerosene light, says the World Bank, is not ideal for human health. Health experts say that problems such as coughing, headache, dizziness, among others, sometimes arise from ingestion of vapours emitted by kerosene lamps.
As her responsibility, she goes out every morning into the prohibited Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve to steal firewood.
Such adventures, she admits, usually bear Kilo bitter fruits as she often encounters forestry guards who prowl about the mountain day and night for illegal harvesters of the mountain's precious resources.
In such circumstances, confesses Kilo, guards beat up women or, worse still, shamelessly demand for their freedom, a thing that she and many women cannot put up.
"I will not stoop so low as to catch Aids over a piece of wood," she says.
Such lamentations float all over Bondo. Indeed, many in this area of Senior Chief Mabuka share the echoes, some of which are more harrowing than anyone could think of.
In a nutshell, Bondo is among thousands of villages which are yet to be connected to the national power grid by Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) and, therefore, suffer the hazards of lack of power.
Statistics from the World Bank indicate that only eight percent of the country's 14 million people has access to electricity.
However, it is not all gloom and doom. Interestingly, some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are putting their hands into their pockets to have the electricity crisis addressed especially on the rural landscape. One such organization is Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency (Murea).
Murea, which is an implementing institution of Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT), has defied the odds and moved in to the aid of power-starved Bondo people. It has embarked on a hydro-power project worth over K60 million.
The project, says Horace Lumbey, Murea's project manager, is funded by European Union. It will be generating 75 kilowatts of power using Lichenya River that passes through Bondo villages. Lumbey stresses that the project will start benefiting communities by June 2012.
"Come next June you will see people connected to our renewable power grid," says Lumbey.
This will be a first phase and over 400 households will be connected."
What's more, points out Lumbey, business enterprises will be pumped into life as a vibrant business centre will be set up by Murea.
Additionally, public schools such as Kabichi Primary and Secondary Schools and Bondo Health Centre will all take precedent in this newly-found glory.
The project, however, will not be an all-man affair. In other words, Lumbey says, the hydro-power project will not benefit all and sundry in this pilot phase. But, conceivably, it will cater to the community's needs particularly with the dawn of second phase in which all the villagers will share the energy cake.
All the same, the euphoria that the communities of Bondo exude is equally inexplicable. The village, in the words of 65-year old Fredrick Sulupi, chairman of the village's hydro-power committee, will be a 'town, city and heaven in its own right'.
Sulupi enthuses: "With electricity just under my nose and feet I will be a happiest man. I've never dreamed in all my life that Bondo, a village within the mountain, will have power."
Village headman Kalamwa echoes Sulupi's sentiments. His is untold happiness considering that his 'once dark and unknown' village will rustle itself out of obscurity thanks to Murea's renewable power – the power that will help much in conservation of natural resources around Mulanje Mountain.
It is said that Malawi, and the rest of Africa, once boasted 7 million square kilometer of forest but a third of that has been lost to charcoal.
Bondo, however, will be a success story. The provision of electricity, no doubt, will spell development and improve the quality of life of most villagers.
It will also help to slow down the rate at which young people of the village flock to towns and cities looking for better life.
But will the turbines really be turning in June bearing in mind that most of the poles are still aground? Time, so they say, will tell.