Are we Poor?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled “Mr. Mbenderana.” At the end of that post, I shared that Mr. Mbenderana finished our meeting by asking me a question “Why did I think that his community was poor?”

At the time I answered somewhat vaguely that I thought it was a combination of dependence on inconsistent rain patterns and systemic shortfalls at the District, Regional and National level related to infrastructure and essential service provision, planning and maintenance. It was more or less a generic answer that I drew upon in a moment of surprise and doesn’t answer the prerequisite question to answer this one – are they poor? Continue reading

Three Tales of Development – Chikalumpha Youth Club

This last tale in development reminds me of what is possible. It starts when 14 members of a youth club all contribute 20 MK (about $0.15 Can) to buy mustard and rape plant seeds and continues as a vegetable garden flourishes at the base of a borehole. Continue reading

Three Tales of Development – The Playpump

The play pump for me highlights so many aspects of what is wrong with development. I will not reinvent the wheel, another EWB volunteer Owen Scott already wrote a brilliant series of posts highlighting some the main problems with the playpump, so check this out and then read on http://thoughtsfrommalawi.blogspot.com/2009/08/playpump.html.

Now that Owen has brought you up to speed, I want to share with you a story about the installation of a play pump at a school in Chikwawa. Continue reading

Three Tales of Development – Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited

Over the last week I had the privilege of visiting three very similar and yet entirely different projects. The stories of each illustrate parts of the reason I am passionate about working in ‘development;’ the good, the bad and the inspiring. The first story is about the Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited, a Fair Trade certified sugar cane cooperative of farmers in rural Chikwawa. Continue reading

How It’s Made – Clay Stoves

While working and living in Malawi, you hear a lot about the deforestation. The fact is, in Malawi, soil erosion and other consequences of deforestation have significant effects on people’s livelihoods. As a result, many development projects, at least in part, focus on tackling the problem of deforestation.

One way to decrease the demand for firewood is to increase the efficiency of the stoves that villagers use. Clay stoves are meant to reduce the amount of firewood or charcoal required to cook as the clay absorbs and retains heat more efficiently than the traditional metal pots.

Here is a brief ‘How it’s made’ all the way from Malawi on clay stoves: Continue reading

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

To act is to show commitment beyond promises.

To act is to have the courage to bring ideas into reality and risk the consequences.

To act is to take a stand.

In many ways, to act is to be a leader – so why is it that the leaders of our country and across the world fail to turn their words into action?

Continue reading

I Thought Time Would Bring Clarity…

I thought time would bring clarity; that is what prevented me from writing this post the first time I walked down a street in Malawi, and the first time I was followed home by a group of kids and many other firsts, seconds, and thirds. The truth is the clarity that I was hoping for has alluded me; but I made a commitment to be as open and honest about my experience as possible so I am will try and capture a bit of what I am seeking clarity on in this post. I am trying to decipher or understand how I feel about being an azungu in Malawi. Continue reading