Almost from the moment I returned from the airport to drop off Ingrid McBride—she was scheduled to leave earlier than the rest of us—things began to set in motion in a way we are used to seeing in Malawi. I spoke with Morgan (from the SOS children’s home) on the phone and arranged to meet with him at the Golden Peacock. Likewise, Clarice had spoken with Felix, of the Office of the Minister of Disabilities, who also agreed to meet with us at the rest house.
They arrived about the same time and although Morgan and Felix were not acquainted, they quickly became interested in the device we had for Ishmael and asked that we come to the Office of the Minister of Disabilities later in the afternoon. There was talk of having a television crew accompany us on the delivery and their excitement grew.
We met in Felix’s office later in the afternoon and made arrangements for both television and radio reporters to come along. However, we learned that it would be our responsibility to transport them to Senga Bay, and back, and provide MK 3000 each for their services. It was also determined that a person from MAP should join us and we would need to provide MK 500 for his lunch expenses. Those costs, along with MK 10,000-11,000 meant that the delivery, with 8 in the Land Cruiser, would cost us about $150.
We left and drove Morgan back to SOS, which is located on the outskirts of Lilongwe, we headed back to the Golden Peacock to have dinner and unpack the hand-cycle for Ishmael. We found that one park had been broken in shipment but were able to scavenge a like one from my bicycle—further making it inoperable. Also, the hand-cycle, designed to separate from the back part that is a functional wheelchair, had been torqued just enough to make the attachment and detachment function difficult at best.
The next morning, after picking up all the various passengers, we headed toward Salima and on to Senga Bay, a distance of about 130 km. When we arrived at the designated spot, there were a number of local people and a few government dignitaries waiting. The village women began to sing a song of welcome and there was a warm welcome by many. Anthony, the man who received his hand-cycle last year, was there as was his friend, Alexander. I noted immediately that Anthony had altered his cycle so it would peddle in the way Malawians are used to and at one point I emphasized the importance for him to return it to the design intended as he will get more power from his stroke.
There were speeches and I was asked to speak about the device and what the project meant for the self-sustainable potential for Malawians with disabilities. I also shared that we wanted to bring bioengineering students to Malawi to train MAP technicians to produce devices with the same technology.
After about an hour of the formal presentations, we placed Ishmael onto the hand-cycle and he got his first ride with some help from some pushing. At one point, I was asked to demonstrate how to separate the front (hand cycle portion) from the back (wheel chair portion). With some concern that it would take more force than originally intended, I showed how to use the special device to lift the cycle from the ground. With some assistance, we separated the two parts and demonstrated how the wheelchair worked on its own. Then, we started to put the two pieces together and I ended up having to use my rubber mallet to make it work. Since they did not have a mallet, I chose to leave it with Ishmael’s mother.
There were interviews by both the radio and television reporters and then we said our good-byes. Just before leaving, Anthony told us that the wood carving business was not good and he wanted to get into another business. His son was in Salima for a blood transfusion—he was having a bout with Malaria—and he did not have money to take the mini van to see him. I gave him funds to pay for the ride and Clarice spoke to him about our project to encourage entrepreneurships for which he was interested.
We headed back to Lilongwe after having lunch at a café in Salima where we have eaten on previous occasions. We arrived back in Lilongwe well before dark and I dropped the passengers off at their various locations before ending the evening at the Golden Peacock.
jdavid6 on July 7th