Lough Ness Challenge

Nessie Challenge hots up

This is an amazing group of young people (well much younger than me!). Many of them are funding Wells for Zoe since their visit to Malawi for a music festival last year, when they managed to find their way to some of our projects, a feat in itself. Very little is achieved by totally sane people, which leads me to a saying from the West of Ireland: “There’s no point in being mad unless you show it
You can find them at: http://nessiechallenge.blogspot.com/, and look at the range of organisations they support.

The following comes from their blog:

We presume you are here because you are interested in The 40 Foot Walruses Sea-Swimming Club and/or the world famous “Nessie Challenge”!

Our e-mail address is nessiechallenge@gmail.com

So if you wish to sponsor us, get involved or you have a query please don’t hesitate to belt us over a mail. We promise we wont sell your details on to penis enlargement spammers.

If you wish to pit yourself against Nessie get your name on the list for ’09! Unfortunately the Nessie Challenge ’08 is fully subscribed and looming large on the horizon. But once there aren’t a discouraging number of fatalities (3 plus) this year we will certainly be stepping up to the challenge again in ’09!!! Pre-Training starts in January so its a super New Years Resolution.

For further info on the causes we are fundraising for please scroll down to the Blog Entitled “Info on Charities”. It is the blog before the blog before this one.

A Little Bit About Us (excerpt from Sunday Tribune May 12th):

EIGHTEEN Dun Laoghaire dare-devils are preparing to swim the cold and murky waters of Loch Ness this summer – and even tales of old Nessie cannot put them off.

Organisers Alan Coleman and Simon Torpay, both 28, have heard stories of sonar sightings of the legendary beast, and have even had warnings from renowned stunt swimmer “Alcatraz Joe” – but they will not be deterred from the 12 July event looking to raise more than €10,000 for charity.

“Last year Simon and myself did an 11km swim from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, ” Coleman told the Sunday Tribune.
“It was the first time this route had been done, and was quite tough. This time we wanted something that was a bit more inclusive, something more people would be interested in doing, ” he said.

Calling themselves the 40 Foot Walruses Sea Swimming Club, they are the first group from Ireland – including three mums – to attempt the swim.
The 18 brave souls will be swimming in water of 10 Degrees Celcius for around an hour.
“It has been done before but it’s not something that’s done regularly, ” said Coleman.
Initially, there was a group of 30 swimmers, but after speaking to Joe Oakes who swam Loch Ness three years ago – and who was the first man to swim the supposedly impossible Alcatraz to San Francisco stretch – they decided to impose a minimum standard.

“I got in touch with Joe after I bought his book which gave advice and tips on swims like this, ” said Coleman.
“When I told him our level, and that we had some beginners, he bascially said that the middle of Loch Ness is no place for beginners.
“It’s very choppy, ” explained Coleman. “And because it’s fresh water there is no buoyancy.”
A high peat content means visibility in the 800ft deep lake is very bad too.
“Joe said you can’t see your hand in front of you, and he also said it was the coldest water he had ever swam in.”

Currently, the 18-strong swimming club can be spotted on Sunday mornings, in their speedos, at the 40 Foot swimming spot in Dun Laoghaire.
“We are training together once a week at the 40 Foot, but we are all doing extra training – about 2km a week, in our spare time as well. It’s a big commitment, it does interfere with your social life, ” laughed Coleman, who says he is looking forward to a hot drink afterwards.
“We will have hot scotch, haggis and a bagpipe player playing ‘Scotland The Brave’ waiting for us at the far side.”

And the big question – is he afraid that Nessie will make an appearance on the day?
“The more I read about it the more I believe there could be something to it.
“But there are 18 of us, so I will surround myself with other swimmers who are covered in goose fat -Nessie likes to eat geese apparently, ” he laughed.

Thanks again for taking the time to look us up.

A little Education on Malawi

By MICHAEL WINES
(Bureau Chief with the New York Times in South Africa)
Published: December 7, 2005
BLANTYRE, Malawi – Here in Malawi’s second city and in the capital, Lilongwe, it is hard to find an office building without some benevolent organization come to help Malawi’s throngs of poor.
The United Nations is here in force. The British are omnipresent in this, their former colony. Some major charities occupy two floors in Lilongwe office blocks. Malawi may be destitute – in 2001, the average earnings were less than 50 cents a day – but commercial real estate is thriving.
It makes one wonder why, with so many experts here to do good, the rest of the country not only isn’t thriving, but is slipping backward.
Since 1981, the United States Agency for International Development said in a troubling report in September, outsiders have sought to fix Malawi’s ills through more than 20 economic adjustment programs devised by the World Bank and eight related loans from the International Monetary Fund. International charities poured in countless private dollars. Overseas development assistance – foreign aid – totals about $35 per person, and makes up $8 of every $10 spent on economic development.
Yet despite that, the report states, only Yemen, Ethiopia and Burundi have worse rates of chronic malnutrition than does Malawi, where 49 percent of all children are stunted. Moreover, that rate has not improved for 15 years.
Malawi is now suffering through one of the worst hunger emergencies in Africa. The ostensible cause is drought. The real reason, however, is worsening poverty. Many of the 12 million or so people are now so poor that they have nothing to fall back on in good times, much less bad ones.
By most appearances, neither legions of charity workers nor phalanxes of money-toting economic structural adjusters have done much except, perhaps, to prevent stunting among even more malnourished children.
Why?
Malawi’s decline is a long and tangled story. The British set up tea and tobacco plantations in what was then called Nyasaland, taking peasants off their own land to grow more profitable crops. After the British left in 1964, an avaricious dictatorship expanded the plantations, leaving farmers with ever-smaller plots. By 1988, 8 in 10 farmers cultivated less than three acres of land – hardly enough to live on, much less make a profit.
A major drought ravaged those small farmers in 1992, and every effort to revive them has failed or, often, backfired. Families have increasingly resorted to casual labor to survive, further reducing the time they have to tend their own tiny fields, forcing them to sell off crucial assets like cattle to buy food.
In theory, all this is reversible. “Technically, we know what to do,” Suresh Babu, a senior researcher at the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute, said in an interview. “We know how to prevent this crisis, to put them on a long-term path of development.”
Mr. Babu knows: from 1989 to 1994, he advised Malawi’s government and the United Nations on food issues. But practically, Mr. Babu says, Malawi’s problems are intractable. International organizations and Malawi leaders disagree over anti-poverty strategies.
Government corruption siphons money and will. Global charities compete for their own pet projects, rather than cooperating on an integrated plan. Malawi hasn’t the money or political consensus to do what is needed on its own.
Take irrigation: Amid drought, a gigantic freshwater lake runs virtually the entire length of eastern Malawi, enough water to saturate millions of now-parched acres. Yet only 2 percent of Malawi’s arable land is irrigated. Virtually all of that grows cash crops like tobacco and sugar cane, not the corn that all Malawians eat.
The government wants to extend water to small farmers, but lacks money. So charities build local irrigation projects, but when they finish and leave, the projects fall apart for lack of maintenance and expertise.
Why doesn’t Malawi train its own experts to improve agriculture? It did: Mr. Babu says he trained 450 experts in food policy and nutrition during his five years there. But “when I go back, I don’t see them,” he says: about 150 have died, many victims of AIDS. Others left the government for better-paying jobs in global charities or the United Nations.
That, say Mr. Babu and others, is central to the problem.
Malawi and its kin lack the capacity – skilled managers and policy makers, good roads and machinery, investors and entrepreneurs – to sustain any effort to climb out of poverty. So outsiders take up the task, often with conflicting aims and shortterm success, often to the government’s dismay.
Such examples barely describe the difficulties attending African poverty. Books have been written on this topic. Many, with titles like “The Road to Hell” and “Lords of Poverty,” lay the blame for third-world squalor at the feet of foreigners who want to end it.
There is even a hilarious poem demonizing “the development set”:
We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.
If only the solution to Malawi’s agony were as simple as punishing craven charities, however. Most people here want to do good, and succeed in the short run. But to many, this is a Salvation Army without a general, marching in different directions while poverty and pestilence pillage the civilians.
Seed is available, but without irrigation. Irrigation ditches are dug, but without fertilizer. Water, seed and fertilizer are donated, but the farmer is dying of AIDS. A healthy farmer raises a crop, but government grain policies make him sell his corn for a pittance.
A farmer sells his crop, but thousands in this densely populated country face similar hurdles, and stumble.
“The money being poured into Malawi is huge,” said Sylvester Kalonge, the Malawi coordinator for food security and emergencies for CARE International. “But it’s not holistic. CARE has holistic programs, but how much geographic coverage can they have? So the impact is localized, and maybe the impact will be washed away in a few years’ time, and things will be worse.”
And so Mr. Kalonge and his fellow saviors in the global aid network labor against the latest hunger crisis.
“That’s what we do,” he said. “We keep people alive.”

On the trail of the Lough Ness Monster: Really!!

We have the bravest supporters of any NGO in Malawi.
Copied this piece from the Nessie Blog: http://www.nessiechallenge.blogspot.com/
Donal (Director of Relations and Communications with Wells for Zoe)

The second benefactor of the funds raised will be Irish humanitarian organisation Wells For Zoe (WFZ)

What started out as a small project to provide safe and clean water to a few villages in Malawi in Eastern Africa has now become a growing humanitarian organisation involved with land Irrigation, farming, micro-credit systems and training for some of the poorest people on the planet. Wells For Zoe is now involved with communities in over 80 locations around beautiful Malawi.

Last October some of us had the fortune to visit a few of the villages where WFZ is bringing about such positive changes to communities. To see the work in action, first hand, and to walk past previously baron land now full of vegetable crops is something else.

WFZ operates on a “hand up not a hand out” principle and is dedicated to working within local village structures to promote the dignity that comes with ownership. WFZ views provision of water as being the first step on the development ladder.

We aim, through our nut-numbing malarkey in Bonnie Scotland to raise 2500 Euro.
I asked John Coyne what this amount of money could translate into in Malawi and he sent me this reply:

“When we manufacture the pumps in Mzuzu later in the year we expect they will cost 30 to 35 euro each. When you add the cost of the cement and a little steel fitting a complete well works out at about €100. This can give water to a village of at least 100 people.
Quickly doing the Maths!! its Water for Life for €1.

At Easter 10 DIT students helped a community to build a 3 classroom school where materials cost little over €2500.

€2500 would buy quarter of a million Bananas, 130 bags of Fertiliser, 500 bags of maize in the cheap season.
It could buy 5000 day old chicks.

It could the capital to fund (zero interest) micro credit to 10 villages.
It could enable a village to become food secure and lead to self sufficiency.
It could buy 12 cows, raise 5000 fruit tree seedlings or plant a small forest.
Give clean water to at least 2500 poor villagers, putting then on the first rung of the development ladder.
Send 30 girls to Secondary school.
Clothe 1500 of the poorest children
Train and equip 150 villagers in beekeeping
Pay 10 farm labourers for a year.

These are some things it could do, but much of our work is based on Inspiration, Education and Challenge and only costs an odd bit of maize, some oil, some fish and some seeds, (which we have started to propagate on our farm), as a gesture.
Their power often comes from here, little cost, some time and huge rewards for all.
It’s a long slow process, but we see all that has failed.
Money has its place, but its not the most important

Well done to all of you.

2009 Election Preparations

Police demolish UDF podium, Muluzi arrives
Josh Ashaz 08 June, 2008 02:56:00 Nyasa Times Report
Muluzi and Chakuamba arrivess to address mamoth crowds
Malawi police in the commercial city of Blantyre defied a High Court order not to interrupt the political rally organised by opposition UDF by demolishing a podium in Ndirande Township.
However, the UDF and alliance presidential candidate Dr Bakili Muluzi has arrived at the venue of the rally in the open yellow land rover accompanied by New Republican Party (NRP) president Gwanda Chakuamba, Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) president Kamlepo Kalua and Ralph Kasambara.
Speaking to Nyasa Times, UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala said despite the police intimidation people are geared to listen to man who is geared to capture the presidency in eleven months time.
“Though they have destroyed the platform and intimidated our supporters, we are going ahead with the meeting,” said Makwangwala, adding that Dr Muluzi will to address the rally from a makeshift podium.
Muluzi through his lawyers had filed papers with the high court in Blantyre on Friday after police denied UDF and its alliance partners authorisation to stage rallies in Ndirande.
However, Justice Haeley Potani of High court ruled on Saturday that police could not ban the opposition presidential candidate rally.
He ordered the political rally to be allowed and that the police, army or any state machinery should not interrupt.

Site of new school

News, can be Good News

Many stories coming from Africa are about drought, aids, famine, corruption, but this is the best of News.
During the Easter holidays (2008), a group of 10 students from the Dublin Institute of Technology, using their own money, headed for Malawi, with Wells for Zoe, with the intention of fixing up a run down primary school in the remote village of Luvuvu, Mzuzu, Northern Malawi. A million miles from nowhere describes the location, but not the community.
They took one look at the existing barn and decided there was no hope for it, and inspired the community to build a new three classroom school block.
The school was complete!! in 2 weeks (in the background of the picture).
The big story here is the school garden in the foreground.
To Be Continued……………..