Village Meeting


Village Meeting
Originally uploaded by wellsforzoe

It may look like a visit to a village in the touristic sense. Go there, meet the village and leave, never to be seen again.
But we just don’t go about our business like this.
Here we see part of a Self Help Group before their weekly meeting started. They began their savings scheme in January 2011, saving small amounts. They began lending to each other in March 2011 charging an interest rate of 20%, which goes back in to the kitty. They are involved in small business and at the end of November had a loan book of 1246 Euro. Now these are some of the poorest women in the area, some are widows and few can read and write. Brian, with the purple shirt, an employee of our friends at St John of God Services, is their mentor, educator and advisor, but they do everything else themselves. All this has been achieved by these 18 women with no financial input from outside. They have achieved all by themselves, a lesson to the rest of the World!!. After working successfully in these small groups, the progress to Community needs, forming a cluster representing 10 small groups
At this stage they presented us with proposals for clean water, preschools and adult education. We are now working with the first cluster on the building of 10 preschools which will double for Adult Education. Training has began is some and we are ahead of schedule.
When I say we, I mean that we support the community, but they do all the work and. In the preschools we supply some cement, and the metal for the roof, they do all the work. We also supply training and for caregivers in the preschools and work with the Ministry of Education for training adult education trainers.
This group have 34 wells/pumps and when we came along only one worked.
Later we will bring training in conservation farming and horticulture.
These now successful business women are ready to drive this agenda, having been empowered by their own success. They are not for turning and they will go upwards and onwards.
An amazing success story against all the odds.

Weekly report from the farm

For the past two months, as well as our almost daily skype conversations to mobiles, we get a weekly report from the Alinipher on the farm, Casca from the preschools and Duncan on the pumps. We are constantly amazed at how much is going on and how things have improved and at the quality of the content.

Date :7th October 2011.
Hei John & Mary,
Here is the report for Lusangazi Farm which Alinipha gave me.
* We are transplanting cabbage and boricole.
* We are planting Beetroots direct and peas.
* We are planting coco yams and strawberries.
* We are sowing sunn hemp, Mahogany and Msangu in tubes.
* We are planting sweet corn.
* We are doing heavy watering due to shortage of water but problem solved this week because we received heavy rainfall and water table increased.
* The water level in dams have increased and we have more water in the garden since Thursday this week.
* We are planting Dahlia around orchard and planting Bananas around orchard,we have took this amountn of rainfall to plant these because at first it was too dry.
* A message to Mary is that we have a letter from City Assembly.
* The are saying that the will be a training of the caregives.
* Place is City Assembly.
* They need 6 caregives from our schools*
* I wish all the Best!!!
GOD BLESS YOU ALL
CASCA

Life in Malawi

When the going gets tough, do the tough get going or maybe sometimes get the message, up tent and pegs and get the hell out of Dodge. This was our dilemma on May 2, 2011
We had come to Malawi, for the first time, just six years ago and feel we have made unbelievable progress (for us) with the poorest rural people you are ever likely to see anywhere. Rural poverty is different than the urban variety in that rural people generally survive better: they should be able to feed themselves at least, if they have any tradition of farming, and sell a little to buy necessities, but Aid, bad advice and poor governance have robbed them of their dignity and courage. Many people here, men mainly, have lost the spirit to survive and if there is any hope, it’s with the women.
I mention aid as the first blight, in that people have become dependent and wait for the €70,000 white jeeps to arrive and get them out of another spot, the Government having previously exaggerated the need, wasted much of the money on reports (done by white consultants) and sent what remained with the delivery boys.
In the past six years we have spent our time trying to inspire, educate and challenge villagers to get off their asses and do it for themselves, pushing ahead with communities who have taken the first steps. Our top attention goes to the provision of clean drinking water close to villages. The community (the men) dig the wells sometimes up to eighteen metres deep (the height of a four story apartment block), supply and build the bricks, sand and labour. We supply a simple, very sustainable and repairable pump, which we make in Mzuzu, and the cement.
To be honest most wells are six or seven metres deep and the average cost to us is about €130 per village meaning water for life can cost less than one Euro per person.
Clean water has a phenomenal, life changing impact. Water related illness disappears immediately. Words like diarrhoea, a bigger killer than aids, disappears from the vocabulary. Cholera, an almost instant killer vanishes, and women get back some rudiments of a life. Girls can get to school, bad and all as it might be. Women can grow gardens, often with our help and a horrific life becomes a little more bearable.
All this seems like something we’d want to stay for, and continue, but Malawi has changed in recent times. Suspicion and paranoia about the activities and influence of foreign NGO’s is all around us, and there’s a view abroad that we’re going back to the latter years of the reign of the dictator Kamuzu Banda, who ran a hoard of community spies, and not so nice people, who reported to the powers that be, lots of people were disappeared, some reported to be fed to the crocodiles in the Shire river and any semblence of law evaporated in the hot Malawi sun.
I’m not saying in any way that we have got that far, but a recent edict directed the President’s supporters to deal with dissenters and anyone critical of the current regime.
It’s interesting that today (May 2) the president announced May 14 as a National Holiday to honour the former president of Malawi, Kamuza Banda, and anyone who has read even the most abbreviated history of Malawi, and his illustrious reign, will appreciate what I mean. The comment that Malawi can live in prosperity if it learns from this great son of the land and decide to live by the values he stood for (from a full page Ministry Advert in the Daily Times ) maybe even the slightest bit of misleading. Now it is true that many of the older village men would concur with this but with maybe with just the slightest touch of selective amnesia, rose tinted glasses or even a bit of alzheimers. Maybe it’s more of a reflection on the current state of the country rather than a factual recollection of what was.

I suppose at this time rulers all around the world are looking at North Africa and what may be loosely called people power. Autocratic rulers everywhere are under scrutiny from all angles and must be worried about their collective futures .
If I look at one particular case: the UK, who had to welcome home their High Commissioner from Malawi, having been thrown out because he told it as it is, something that every canine conversation is about, on the streets these days. Like most of the developed world the UK has financial problems, taxes and interest rates will go up, they are spending ship loads of money on humanitarian aid, in places like Malawi and have now the cost of bombers in Libya. If I were a Health worker in Malawi, I would worry about my future, as the UK is the biggest funder of healthcare and medicines. Maybe getting rid of the British High commissioner was a stroke of genius. Being powerful enough to be first country in the commonwealth to ever send home an ambassador (even Mugabe didn’t go that far) has to show that Malawi’s sun has indeed risen.
During the past three weeks, not alone did we have had to visit Emigration and Government Information Services (the stazi) to give an account of our movements, we had Inland Revenue crawl all over us: all this mainly, I feel, at the instigation of a single individual.
There are thousands of foreign NGO’s in Malawi, we are tiny and they’re on our case, so what’s going on? More than vague suggestions are always made of arrest, eternal damnation or expulsion.
Maybe this rant should end with a laugh.
Two weeks ago, one of our employee’s, who looks after 5 rural preschools and visits one each day, was on his bike at about 7.30am and while passing a read block was detained by police. He was charged with speeding and told that they would keep his bike until the fine (€10) was paid. He left his bike, walked 2 miles to the school, 2 miles back and eventually when he confirmed that he had no money, and was walking away, they threw his bike at him.

w4z PHLOGS
Monday 23 May 2011: Duncan, the Mobile Plumber

When we arrived at the factory this morning, after 7.30, Duncan was loaded up and ready to roll, to fit two pumps. One was a broken pump which hadn’t worked for years and the other was on a new well .
Haven’t seen him since, but I’m sure the news is good.
In the wake of ever increasing fuel costs and the lack of fuel for long periods as a result of forex problems, we have decided to keep the show on the road and bought a new bike for our new guy Duncan.
He loves the job and the bike and the whole affair.May 2011

You can laugh (or cry) at the following email

John
.
Here is my report plus the G,P,S details of some pumps that we have installed so far.
We went to Ekwendeni following up those letters you left plus other new wells namely; Makalanje, V H Simon, Halazie, Shonga and Engcongoleni.
On 14 June I went to maintan a pump in Thandazga,
On 15 June I was with steve digging a well at the factory,
Today I went to Chimwemwe Kazando to take the mesurement of the new well, I will go there before Friday to make a cover and show them how to construct the whole well.

PUMP DETAILS

1.Village name;E,E Ngoma
Location;Geisha
No of people;28
GPS: S 11*28.410 E033*59.106 Depth,6.8m

2.Village name;Vwenya Mzumla
Location;Dunduzu
No of people;128
GPS; S11*24.325 E033*57.880 Depth;4.6m

3.Village name;V,H Luguba Mhlanga
Location;Nkholongo
No of pple;196
GPS; S11*22.601 E034*00.765 Depth;3.9m

4.Village name;Kam’khwalala
Location;Chimwemwe Kazando
No of people;357
GPS; S11*28.811 E033*57.445 Depth;3m

When things are going well in Malawi, it’s time to worry. This came from Duncan today: He finishes
John,
The traffic policeman told me that not to carry pipes on my bike any longer failing which I will be arrested.
Duncan Reporting.

If we check with the police there will be no law, statute or mention of such. But because of corruption, stupidity or plain badness, this is their law, one man’s law and unless we pay them off this is THE ONLY LAW.

In one week, this young man (21) has helped 4 villages and gain access to safe, clean drinking water for the first time and some brainless f***** in a uniform has invented a reason to intervene, in the hope of collecting a bribe.
This is everyday life in Malawi and it’s at all levels from the top down.
Millenium Development Goals my ass.

Is it back to bartering

A small rant.

Just back from a trip to Clonmel, on some fascinating Celtic Tiger roads, where I met with a group of grounded Rotarians for an excellently presented, simple lunch, where everyone arrived from work at 1pm and were back by 2.
I met real, positive people who work for the betterment of our world. The whole adventure was a feel good story.
Three years ago they put on a music function in the town, with music from Micheál Ó Suileabhán and family, with the help of others and managed to raise €20,000, which they presented to us today. In the intervening period they have tried everything possible to get matching funds, but such is the amount of Aid arriving in Malawi, Rotary Mzuzu couldn’t find time or place to fit us in. All they had to do was inspect the pump factory, tick a few boxes, and Rotary International would match the amount. However I’ll stick to the positive and say, thank you Rotary Clonmel for the pump factory and now this money will now enable us to give clean drinking water to maybe 25000 people in North Western Mozambique.
I got myself in to rant mode on the drive back while Mary wondered what I was thinking about!!.
More questions than answers!!
Are we on the verge of going back to bartering goods and services, have we lost total confidence in banking , has the idea of big failed, have we lost touch with the real and put faith in derivatives, other obtuse financial instruments, (financial weapons of mass destruction), designed to be as obtuse as possible. Are accountants and bean counters, bankers and three card trick merchants, ruling and ruining our world? Are we to see the end of globalisation? When will we again get to appreciate real business people as distinct from hailing opportunistic chancers?
We have lost all our road signs: the parish priest, the teacher and the bank manager have all lost their place in society, all consigned to the same irrelevant end, but were replaced by so called, self promoted experts, journalists, TV merry go rounds and reality shows all with dubious motives and agendas. Local bank managers were moved into centralised warehouses and credit was controlled by grey, faceless men and women maybe, who obviously counted their bonuses before they were even hatched. Systems replaced real thinking and analysis, and real people got screwed.
There is now, no one to trust. People will present themselves, as economists or even political analysts (two fairly shaky sciences, in themselves, but then are they sciences?) and then they evaporate almost as soon as they appear: when they are found out to be one trick ponies. For years now these people, famous for being famous are experts on all matters, know the price of everything and the value of nothing, are filling the void between the amount of airspace available and the scarcity of bad news. Oh yes, news must be bad news.
Where will our new leaders come from? The churches will have to descend to even lower standing before there is any possibility of a real change. The political class will have to disappear and be replaced by real people of substance, on much lower wages, bankers will have to be terminated and the financial system totally overhauled.
Have the systems within our world just got too big, out of scale with real people, too big for people to understand. Is big the problem and will small have to become the new big.
Why did those who told us they knew better, that size matters, the bigger the better, greed is good, the economies of scale. If something becomes too big to fail, has it just become too big and therefore too big to regulate and control, for the benefit of the many.
How can people with these ideologies ever hope to contend with the poverty of the millions of subsistence people who live from day to day and from one meal to the next? Those who claim to help, collectively the Aid business, are full of these big people running the aid business like other big business organisations. They come from these backgrounds; have plans for big ventures, which they plan with the bean counters far away from the people they are supposed to serve, hardly serve, maybe dominate and their issues. Africa has had 50 years of big solutions at a big cost and most of which have become big white elephants.

Is it now time for small solutions everywhere? Small banks, small car companies, small, small, small. Will tiny is tremendous ever become a catchphrase or even small is beautiful. Will we ever hear of trickle up or that greed is shite ?.

Enron was big, it had Arthur Anderson, very big, counting its beans and it failed mega big.
Chrysler and GM have had a serious weight reduction and Ford and now in love with small cars!.
Lehman, WorldCom and Bank of Scotland have disappeared like the great Roman Empire, and now the sun regularly sets on much of the once magnificent British Empire.

Who knows how the future will go, but for us, heading off to Malawi for another two months will take us away from the masses of whinging, media malcontents where our spirits will be lifted by some of the most amazing and yet poorest women in the world, living from hand to mouth, who we will enable to access pure, clean drinking water for life, for 1 euro each.
Finally a thought for our young people:
There is a wonderful other world out there somewhere.
Emigration may not be as bad as it first appears.

How do kids in Malawi ever survive!!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1940′s, 50′s, 60′s…
Sent to me by a friend

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses containing asbestos..

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.
Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nandos.
Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death!
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy Toffees, Gobstoppers, Bubble Gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because……
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY,
no video/dvd films,
no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms………WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
Lawsuits because these were accidents.
Only girls had pierced ears!
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time…
We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays,
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!
Mum didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!
FOOTBALL, RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on
MERIT
Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bully’s always ruled the playground at school.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.
They actually sided with the law!
Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like ‘Kiora’ and ‘Blade’ and ‘Ridge’ and ‘Vanilla’
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO
DEAL WITH IT ALL!
And YOU are one of them!
CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

A little Sunday Morning Rant, (for our amazing volunteers July 25, 2010)

Elaine Bolger brings two Educational establishments, DIT and Mzuzu University together. Beside Elaine is Fr John Ryan, Professor of Mathematics

Wells for Zoe is a small, Irish, sustainable development organisation working with some of the world’s poorest in Northern Malawi. It is almost irrelevant now that it was founded by John and Mary Coyne from Lucan, Co Dublin; such is the support it gets from so many people and in so many ways. It has never sought Government funding and depends on the generosity of the public for its development. The Coynes do however pay all administrative expenses and naturally they pay for their own flights, travel and accommodation while in Malawi, which now is about five months each year. This enables all donations to be spent where they are needed, in Malawi.
The only people paid by Wells for Zoe are our Malawian employees.
While focused on clean water in poor, remote, rural villages we found there was a huge need to help with irrigation and farming, open pollinated seeds were unavailable and so we bought and developed the Lusangazi farm. It is primarily a research and teaching farm, where we try to grow vegetables, which may be suitable, from all over the world, but also looking closely at forgotten African plants, when we can get seeds. We use almost no artificial fertilizer but rely mainly on making compost (hard work which Malawians don’t like) and on growing green manure, like velvet bean, sun hemp, etc. We also avoid chemical pesticides by using a concoction of brews from local plants headed by tephrosias, aloe vera, tobacco and whatever Benidicto can find.
Leaf fungus, in our citrus seedlings, is a perpetual problem and hard to crack, but we are on it. The hostel on the farm is where we bring farmers to learn about irrigation, composting and seed production. We send them away with seeds, seedlings and hopefully a measure of inspiration.
Teaching about vegetables is tough when there’s no generational culture in place, and people are focused on tobacco, maize and coffee. We have a passion to improve soil which is seriously depleted by years of chemical fertilizer and will be eternally grateful for the tremendous work and knowledge of Gillian and Chris who so generously gave their experience and vast knowledge to the farm, later to be passed on to more and more of Northern Malawi.

The Birthing Centre or Health post, in Lusangazi also developed from a need. I passed the old shed (with Chipitara in Tumbuka, meaning Hospital, painted on the wall), one day with Harisen and met the ever smiling Lillian; saw a new born baby and the blood on a concrete slab, which was the birthing bed. Action was needed, so we got on it and with some help from the community built a little place. I now love her and the place. She runs it with all the love and attention that every newborn deserves. It was not in our plans, but when it soon has a solar water pump, lighting, toilet facilities, a septic tank, a garden for the greens and a small extension for the outreach clinics, I think I could leave Malawi happy, even if we accomplished nothing else, such is it’s importance to the community.

The project that has caused us most stress is Áras Kate, our pre school in Salisbury line. Bureaucracy, jealousy, corruption, misunderstanding and evil were a daily problem.
While I was responsible for the building, Mary did the talking, cajoling, challenging and facing reality. The place is now in the hands of the local community of Salisbury Line and run by a board of trustees comprising, the City Assembly, the local Chiefs, the area Development Committee and Wells for Zoe. Mary was appointed the Educational Director and Charity is also one of the trustees. She may not look like a former trade unionist, but she has a very sharp intuition and intellect and will serve the community well particularly if she can believe she is twenty years older!!!!. The situation is a lot less complicated now and in due course we will expand the building with two new classrooms, a kitchen and store, and when land is later allocated by the City we will begin building a primary school and resource centre. We thank all our volunteers for their amazing work in this most deprived of areas, afflicted by all the evils of urban poverty anywhere, then throw in the added bonus of AIDS. You have made people’s days and maybe changed some lives, just by being there. We love it, it’s a great place to be, and with homework clubs and adult education, people will want to move there. Of course it’s in its infancy; it was only opened on Feb 9, 2009. What do you want, it’s already a miracle!!
At the moment it costs about 80000kw per month to run.
The future may hopefully see a big input from DIT, social science and early childhood development disciplines, in terms of research, placements and training accreditation.

Our big focus is still on the delivery of clean drinking water, which strange as it may seem, is not as easy as it looks. One has to break into the market, especially with a new pump like ours. There are many vested interests in Northern Malawi, focused as much on Evangelisation as hydration. We find many broken pumps and wells and need permission from the original installers to repair or replace them. Maybe half of the pumps installed in the past twenty years don’t work on any given day, but the donors or installers are nowhere to be found after the original razzmatazz and photo ops of the installation day. A pump maintenance plan is a major part of our programme.
Over the past three months we have compiled a list of pumps in need of our assistance but this years continuing rain means it will be at least October before we can put any plan into action, when water tables are at their lowest. All our pumps are free to the villagers and where they supply the labour and bricks, we supply the pump and the cement free of charge
In August we plan to work with Ungweru (Fr John Ryan’s group). CADECOM (the development arm of the Catholic Church) are another of our partners. We have a few pumps for Ripple Africa and many other village projects. We have 150 pumps ready for an Australian NGO, Global Concern, to be delivered to Zambia as soon as the water tables are suitable and they send us their people for training. We are also hoping Andrew will expand past three pumps in Tanzania. If someone told me when we began this venture that we could bring clean water to a population maybe the size of Leitrim, I would have taken that for my life’s contribution, but we’re not finished yet. This is all a slow process where constant care and supervision are needed. It’s not a place for a mad rush and a photo op. If developing Malawi were easy, billions of cash would already have solved it, BUT it’s not all about money but about people, inspiring, educating and challenging, simultaneously and together!.
Malawi is not for everyone, some people simply don’t get it. We do our best to provide opportunities, without handouts. There are many in the Aid Business who want the gratification of bringing the goodies and have a lot to learn about Dignity. This culture of sporadic handouts has made many in Malawi into dependant beggars. We are trying to things differently, and together we, can change people’s lives forever. Most of our volunteers have managed to do this. What an amazing achievement in your life?
Our lives are now full time Malawi. I sleep eat and think W4Z. Little here is spur of the moment or haphazard even though everything may look a mess. As a bigger picture evolves, planning will be done with the communities so that it meets their needs, always mindful of hours and days of research done already. We have failures but treat them as learning experiences. All plans must be done here and a plan for Sonda may not fit in Doroba. Malawi has a million failed plans cooked up in New York, London and wherever, and delivered by people who believed that they knew better. But after forty years of this system, many rural Malawians are now poorer than they were thirty years ago.
Our operation runs very much on a shoestring budget and so it should. Harisen and Charity are amazing people and yet another accident brought us together. Br Aidan, St John of God Services, our guru, thinks W4Z is successful because we have the right person in charge, Harisen, something he is very proud of because he first employed him. I took a chance on Charity. We naturally have had our ups and downs but always realise that they are gems.
We have employed maybe twenty people to also be leaders, but had to let them go for one reason or another. Alipha has great potential but wants to be a nurse, while Alinipher is still learning her trade, painfully at times.
Elaine, as part of her placement, has spent many days with Harisen over the past month and at Easter helping him with his big deficiencies, planning and keeping records. Progress has been amazing, but we learned something bigger still: the amount of work he gets through in a day. He is responsible for everything and to everyone. One day last week we had 46 employees on different jobs, in different locations. He had also to arrange transport, ferry a multitude and even secure food for a few, keep me going, settle disputes with chiefs, arrange meetings, pay bills, negotiate deals, order and check deliveries, and whatever else came his way. On the other hand Charity, while being infuriating by having no phone or credit or petrol is invaluable in her counselling skills and her ability to talk to everyone. She too, seldom writes notes but when info can be extracted then you find her work includes visits to the hospitals, meeting the chiefs, delivering clothes to newborns, paying wages, buying bicycles, operating complex loan deals, keeping William out of the way of the law, while trying to organise his finances. She is the first port of call for all our workers with their problems and above all she is extremely honest.
Our biggest spend at the moment is around building and transport, where anything imported is at least as expensive as Ireland.

Failte House was built for volunteers and was a huge success this summer. We also have planning for a four bed motel type structure on the grounds depending on the success of what we have. All of this extra work will be loaded on Harisen naturally. Because of the work involved in selling produce from the farm would incur, we have decided to scrap the plan and use these as a research tool. Our workers will now be the benificiaries. They will eat them at lunchtime, make a comment and take some more home. Our focus is on research not business
There are many other projects like Luvuwu and its students at Zolo Zolo Secondary school (funded and driven by DIT), M’Bama, Sonda, Ekaiweni, Kazando (with its new preschool almost complete), Elamouleni and the Capuchin Secondary school where we are beginning a fund for girls Secondary education (four girls each year). We are also funding hostel accommodation for girls: same deal as other areas, paying for the cement and roofing; Fr John will do the rest.
Our link with DIT, the biggest third level institution in Ireland is now firmly in place thanks to Elaine, Liam and their friends. We now have working relations with seven disciplines, all of whom are making positive contributions independently. The visit of Ciaran and Fred means we now have linked DIT with Mzuzu University and Tech as well as with Ungweru and SJOG. This is no extra work for us but part of our policy of PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES without HANDOUTS.
Our ideas and plans will only be limited by the quality of Malawian personnel we can find and train, and the quality and quantity of volunteers we can encourage to come here and maybe take over sections of the operation to run with.
If you can see yourself becoming part of all this madness leave us your contact details.
You might also tell us how you feel that you can help or if there is a specific area or project you might like to work on.
On behalf of ourselves and all the people you journeyed with we offer our most sincere thanks, knowing that life for many will be changed, for the better, forever, by your coming.

More money will not solve Africa’s famines!

Africa: Money Will Not End Famine
James Shikwati
2 September 2009
________________________________________
OPINION
There was a time in Africa when elders would “talk” to the drought and negotiate their way into receiving rainfall. With their unique understanding of causation, elders would either sacrifice a black sheep or ask a virgin girl to bathe in a lake in order to draw the attention of the rain gods.
Would that they could do so now.
With an estimated 50 million Africans in dire need of food aid and an additional 120 million facing starvation if immediate measures to alleviate the situation are not taken, the general assumption has become that developing countries do not have what funds are necessary to increase food productivity.
Too little time has been invested in seeking to understand why Africa, with its vast farmlands and its brilliant and innovative sons and daughters, still goes hungry as the rest of the world battles with obesity.
Computer experts are aware of malware, the “malicious software” that is designed to infiltrate a computer without the owners’ informed consent.
The general computer user is familiar with viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and spyware among other programmes that cause harm to the operating system.
As we talk about famine in Africa, we should take a moment to evaluate the hostile and intrusive programmes operating in the background as food aid in particular and aid in general run in the foreground.
Ask yourself, for example, why a majority of Africans have changed their diets.
Kenyan nutritionists point out that we have ignored high value foods and replaced them with junk, sacrificing thousands of Africa’s domesticated and wild edible crops at the altar of modernity.
Malicious system
Crops whose production should be scaled up by virtue of their ability to adapt to Africa’s climate have instead been framed as crops of poverty.
Crops such as the tamarind, millet, sorghum, indigenous peanuts and potatoes have been kicked out of the menu in favour of wheat and beef.
Over 50 years of food aid targeted at Africa have been marked by a corresponding increase in episodes of famine, which points to the possible existence of a food “malware” – a malicious system that changes people’s dietary habits in favour of imported foods.
The same malware has penetrated agricultural schools, where it trains graduates to promote the new foods as opposed to upgrading local varieties.
Worst of all, it has penetrated political leadership, corrupting their minds with the quest for kickbacks to the extent that they do not invest in local solutions as foreign solutions can loaded with the possibility of a quick 10 per cent.
In the absence of an effective “anti-virus” this malware loads its intentions on the hapless operating systems of Africa’s nations, forcing them to become perpetual beggars.
It is my contention that, to reduce the incidence of famine on the continent, Africans must develop an effective system for detecting the “malicious background operating system” that has not only denied them the opportunity to promote their local cuisines but has also exposed their land to grabbing.
It is time we invested in our indigenous crops, turned our rural populations into celebrated food suppliers through incentives and invested in technology to free our continent from perennial famine.
Contrary to common belief, money is not the solution to Africa’s famine problem. Neither, for that matter, is food aid. What we need to do is get rid of the malware operating in our system.
James Shikwati is the director of Inter Region Economic Network
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