July 28th to 30th

Lilongwe, Malawi to Johannesburg, South Africa
The last two full days in Malawi were filled with meetings at both ends of the Malawian political structure. On the day after our deliver of the hand cycle to the young boy at Senga Bay, we (Clarice, Meria, and I) met with the Secretary of the Malawian Ministry of Persons with Disability and the Elderly. Felix, who works under the Secretary, was interested in having the Secretary hear about the project and for him to see the video that shows the cycle in action. Although the video is on our website (www.sustainableltd.org) it has been handy to have it available on my computer for such showing. The Secretary wanted to know why we had not contacted his office before then and I had no real good answer other than to say that we have been working at the village level and this meeting represented our first opportunity to meet with Government officials.
Truthfully, the credit for our being able to connect with all of the Malawian Government officials these two days goes to Meria, aunt of our friend Mcdonald Ganisyeje, and collaborator in our effort to establish the school for women, girls and people with disabilities. The Secretary made it clear that we should not have to pay duty on future shipments and even suggested that they could help pay for the shipments.
We had very similar responses with the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture—Malawian President Mutharika is also the Minister of Agriculture—who was very interested in our Kuroiler (poultry) project, now underway in Uganda. The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development, with whom we met on the 30th, voiced his approval of our plan for the school for women, girls and people with disabilities even as he spoke of his disappointment in the, Raising Malawi project, headed by Madonna, and which involves the building of a school just outside Lilongwe. He also offered resources for the project, to include funding, office space, and a worker who could help us as a representative while we work in the US. He asked that we prepare a proposal that would help him in his effort to secure funding.
Following our meetings with Government officials, we headed to the Njewa Area to speak with village headsmen. McDonald, and three of the students, joined us for this event. The area is where we plan to build the school and a new headsman is now in charge so we wanted to meet with him and others from near-by villages. The setting was in stark contrast to our office meetings with Government officials as we sat near a tree, on chairs brought from near-by huts, amongst a number of villagers who had come to witness the event.
Since our project has taken longer to get underway, due to funding issues, there was need to reassure the people that the plans are still fully intended to become a reality. In response, the lead tribal headsman asked what they could do to help. After some thought, we suggested that they could start a cooperative bakery—a plan we have wanted to implement for a couple of years—and they agreed that it would be good to have one in the area. However, they had no supplies to get such an operation underway and asked if we could help them do so. We agreed to fund baking pans, an initial 25 kg bag of flour, and other items necessary. They could build a wood-fired oven—we would rather not have them use firewood but electric ovens are not a realistic option at this time—and start the operation with the intent to expand through use of profits to purchase more baking pans, flour and other items to make the bakery more successful.
We asked that a woman be appointed to watch over the sales with the intent to maintain a growing fund that would be used toward the school. Even though the profits from this effort would be minimal, at best, they would serve to provide means for the villagers to gain a sense of pride in knowing that they will have made a contribution.
We also suggested that they start a sewing group with the same idea in mind. People could make clothes and other items that could be sold for profit. They did not have a (treadle) sewing machine or other supplies necessary to get that project going so we agreed to provide them before our return to the US.
The meeting ended with brief speeches by a few of the headsmen who said they would meet again very soon to make some decisions on the project and appoint a woman to oversee the funds earned. Then the people started to sing and dance as a form of celebration.
The rest of the day was spent in purchasing the items promised for the village cooperative enterprises. Later we, joined by McDonald and his wife, all had our last dinner together at the Golden Peacock. Following the dinner, with the others heading off to pack for the return to the US, Meria and I worked on the school proposal promised for the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Community Development.
On the morning of the 30th, I drove the four-audiology students, and most of the luggage, to the Lilongwe Airport. Then I returned to the Golden Peacock to prepare the Land Cruiser for storage—to include lifting the vehicle and setting jack stands underneath so the tires would not be damaged over the long period—and then the remaining three of us were driven to the Airport by Sulemon.
After our flight from Lilongwe to Johannesburg, Clarice and I checked into a hotel while the students chose to overnight at the airport. Our 15-hour flight from Jo’Burg to JFK is scheduled for the evening of the 31st and then we will have a few more hours of layover before our flight to Phoenix.
We return home with a strong sense of continued accomplishment as the new audiology project was well received, we have several new interviews with people who have disabilities, deliveries of devices were made, and the outcomes of our meetings, both Government and village, provided reason to believe we are on the right course.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, we will be back in Malawi and Kenya at the same time next year.

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July 26th to 27th

Lilongwe, Malawi
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.

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July 23rd to 25th

Nkhata Bay, Malawi
These days went by quickly. Ingrid McBride remained at Mayoka Village, our accommodations, to work on a report that will be due upon her return, and she is scheduled to leave earlier than the rest of us. The students basically relaxed and enjoyed their time together to include a boat trip during which they got to watch a fishing eagle dive for planted fish and they jumped into the lake off of a 7-meter cliff. They had that adventure on the day of Kristi’s birthday and she voiced a willingness to be adventuresome on her special day.
Weariness was certainly setting in and they remained to themselves much of the time. Meanwhile, Clarice and I scheduled three additional interviews for people with disabilities. Kathryn Wiggle, owner of Mayoka Village, had arranged for a young girl, with knees that turn inward, to come to see us. Also, one of the cooks has a 2-½ year-old son who has a paralysis of one arm that also affects the leg somewhat. His grandmother, who appeared young enough to be his mother, brought that boy to Mayoka Village. The girl came with her mother and we were able to record the interviews on the sand, next to the Lake. The bartender, Kenani, willingly provided translation.
The boy, Moses Phiri, seemed that he would benefit from a device that encouraged exercise of his limbs although his grandmother said that when he does try to move his arm he cries with pain. The girl, Modesta Maluna, has knees that are not symmetrical and some form of brace might be appropriate although I will leave that decision to the experts at ASU. Later, I telephoned Bill Ottoway to ask if his wife, Elizabeth, might be able to arrange for an X-ray to be taken and sent so that a more informed effort might be made for Modesta.
We also interviewed a woman, Doris Kayanage, aged 39, who had suffered bone cancer and had her left leg amputated at age 16. A couple of the students went with me to record this interview, as Clarice did not feel well. Doris was provided with a prosthesis from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, in Blantyre, at that time but it eventually gave out. The replacement, for which she had to pay, was not as well designed and so Doris has had to use a cane ever since.
We followed Doris to a location where the interview could be conducted in private and the lop-sided nature of her gait was clearly evident. With the two female students to assist, we were able to get measurements from Doris that might prove helpful in the effort to provide assistance.
The rest of the say in Nkhata Bay was relatively uneventful and we packed to leave on the morning of the 25th. The drive south to Lilongwe took all day with a stop at the Pottery Factory near Nkotakota. The sun was setting as we wound down the hills into Lilongwe, which made for a glare on the windshield. By the time we reached Lilongwe, it was dark so we had to deal with drivers who, for some reason, choose to not use their headlights. For some, I know they probably do not work, while for others it seems that they resist using them. I was relieved to pull into the Golden Peacock rest house, where we unloaded our luggage.
Before dinner, there was need to separate audiology-related items that would remain in Lilongwe and those that would return to the US. Ingrid’s scheduled departure is for the next morning (Monday, July 26) so she had to get her things ready to go—to include packing souvenirs into her Action Packer. At one point, she had spoken of leaving it in Lilongwe but now she saw why I had assured them that these tough, sturdy, boxes would be handy to use to pack their souvenirs.

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July 21st-22nd

Lilongwe and Nkhata Bay, Malawi
In the morning, we loaded, fueled the Land Cruiser, and headed north toward Salima, Nkhotakota, and on to Nkhata Bay. The drive was uneventful, with the exception of having to wait for road workers as they nailed planks to a bridge.
We arrived at Nkhata Bay at 4:30 so did not have to travel in the dark. Our reception was, as usual, very friendly on the part of both Kathryn and Gary, owners of Mayoka Village—our favorite place to stay. Kathryn had chalet #4 ready for Clarice and I, as she knows it is our favorite. Our colleagues had chalets close by and we then went to unload vehicle. Since the steps up and down Mayoka Village are so steep, it is best to locate our rooms before making any effort to haul luggage around.
We all had dinner together, and then Clarice and I returned to our chalet for the evening.

The next morning, I telephoned Bill Ottoway, Kathryn’s father, to see if he was available to go with us to interview a young girl with spinal difida. The girl lives with her family, at a tea plantation, about 30 km off the tarmac road that is reached via 4-wheel drive. He and his wife, Liz, know the girl as she sometimes comes to the hospital with serious bedsores. They had made a special pillow for her to sit on and it had relieved her of some of the bedsore-associated problems. However, she clearly needs means for transport so she can get to school on her own
Bill caught a ride on a minivan to the police gate just outside Nkhata Bay. Since their home is near Muzuzu, and the turn-off for the plantation was between Nkhata Bay and their place, it was a shorter drive for us to have him meet us at the police gate.
The drive down the dirt road was pleasant and rough in only a few places. Due to the need to drive slowly, it took about 40 minutes to reach the factory and the home of Janet. She was quite shy, speaks only Tinga, and did not look at us directly the entire time we sat in their home. She does go to school and, according to her mother, who speaks English, is progressing well. We took photos, video-recorded the interview, and make measurements of her height, legs, etc.
We explained the reason for our interview at the beginning of our visit and the mother had sent for three bottles of soft drinks to serve to us. Such an extravagance is not common and we demonstrated our appreciation
Unknown to us, as we did the interview, a group of young boys decided to shove wood into the locks on the doors of the Land Cruiser—there are three: the two front doors and the rear hatch. When we prepared to leave, I found I was unable to fit the key into to lock and then realized what had happened. Bill tried to dig the wood out with his pocketknife as I checked the rear hatch. There I found wood still sticking out of the lock and was able to pull it out easily. So I gained entry into the vehicle and unlocked one door from the inside.
As the boys spoke no English, there was no reason to scold them verbally but I am sure my facial expression was plain enough for them to understand our frustration with their act.
We drove back to the highway and on to Bill’s home where we had a light lunch then worked to extract the wood. Bill had some flat wire that worked to extract the wood so we did not have to remove the panels and disassemble the locks.
Afterward, we walked down a forest path into a canyon where there is a creek from which they get their water. A water pump, driven by water pressure from the stream, pumps the water up the 100 foot grade to their water tanks that sit above their home on a tower. The elevated tanks provide sufficient water pressure for their home and garden.
The water pump system was installed in the 1960’s by Liz’s grandfather who had lived there since the late 1940’s. It has continued to operate ever since and uses no electricity or other means of power other than the water pressure from the stream flow. Furthermore, there is little maintenance required other than to relieve the build up of pressure in the pump every couple of weeks and to remove sand that accumulates in the lines once in a while. The only other maintenance operation is to replace the rubber seals once very 5 years. Both the longevity and continuous operation without need for electricity or other power source allow them to have virtually free water all year long.
We left Bill’s house and drove back to Nkhata Bay and Mayoka Village. The others had remained at Mayoka Village and relaxed all day. It was Ingrid’s birthday and we had arranged to have a cake made. Only after everyone at the Village had eaten, they brought out the cake, with lights dimmed, and sang Happy Birthday. One very large candle stuck out of the cake and Ingrid blew it out before cutting it into enough pieces to share within our group and with Benson, a local wood carver who had come to deliver many key chain name-tags everyone had ordered.

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Sunset on the Luangwa River, Zambia

Hadeda Ibis at sunset on the Luangwa River, Zambia

Elizabeth on her cycle

Here are a few pictures from Zambia. Of significance are the pictures and stories of Anastasia and Elizabeth.

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