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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July 18th -20th

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia and Lilongwe, Malawi
Two days of safari rides into South Luangwa National Park provided many wonderful sightings of birds, mammals, and plants. Of the latter, the most interesting was probably the orchid that grows in trees where the seed has sprouted and taken root.
We saw many of the classic African animals to include two prides of lion, a leopard, hippo, impala, water buck, cape buffalo, crocodiles and much more. The bird life was also tremendous.
However, in terms of our project, we were able to deliver the specially built hand cycle designed and developed for Anastasia, a girl of 15 who is afflicted with polio while she also seems to have some other complications. She had to be lifted onto the seat then we adjusted it to make it easier for her to reach the foot rests. Through our driver, Sly, we learned that her first statement was that she wanted to go to church, and later said, “Grandma will be surprised.” Sly told us that she continued to demonstrate a great deal of happiness with the cycle, which her mother had to help her with.
Her uncle was also there and we talked about how she would need to practice in order to gain strength enough to power it herself. Both the mother and uncle promised to work with her to practice riding the cycle but they were also happy that Anastasia could now be transported without having to carry her.
We left they with extra tires and tubes for the cycle along with a hand pump so they could keep the tires inflated properly.
Afterward, we drove to see Elizabeth who had received a cycle in 2007. We had seen Elizabeth last year when we visited her home and noted that she had clearly gained strength through use of the cycle. Even though her progress had been note worthy, we did not anticipate the great change in her now. Due to the cycle, she had been able to return to school. That opportunity, in turn, had allowed her to learn to speak English to the point that she could communicate with us. Further, we found her at a shop where she now has a job—again, an outcome of the cycle as she is able to ride the 5 km to and from work on the weekends. Elizabeth remains in a room during the week but returns home on Sundays.
She has worked up a proposal for us to help her start raising chickens and she gave that proposal to us before our departure. She also has collected information and photos of others in the village who are also disabled in some way. Elizabeth had the collection of information, along with photos, of each of those people and presented them in a book for us to take home with the hope that we will be able to do something for them as well.
Later, we talked with Sly about starting a production facility in Mfuwe where there are plenty of people who have skills to produce devices we design. That plan is something we will have to work on through correspondence in the near future.
On the 20th, we made the long drive back to Lilongwe with Ben, our driver. The road, being long and dusty, provided good reason to shower and wash clothes once we arrived. We chose to go to Ali Baba’s for dinner; a favorite place for us and our children on past trips.

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July 15th -17th

Little Field Orphanage (Chigamba Village near Nyenje Trading Centre), to Lilongwe, to South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The hearing clinic at the Little Field Orphanage was well received by the villagers (morning) and all the orphans were tested in the afternoon. The villagers crowded around the building where we slept and used for the clinic. The structure had been used as a medical clinic in the past but for some reason it is not in use at tis time. Word had spread in the village and many thought medications would be dispensed.
The audiology team members found numerous cases of ear infections that needed to be treated medically and others who were fully deaf. At 11:00 we made an announcement that the testing of villagers would end at noon but when that time came, we had to have the team disappear into the back room in order to convince the villagers there would be no more testing. They would have stayed into the night and yet the team members needed to rest and eat before they resumed testing with the orphans. As it was, a few villagers hung around and even protested.
That afternoon, as the orphans were being tested, Clarice and I took a walk down the dirt road toward a lake. A man on a bicycle came along just as we started and he dismounted in order to walk along with us. Soon he asked if we were husband and wife and when we said,“Yes” he immediately expressed surprise. Although we know that it is not customary for married couples to walk along the road together, we had not, in the past, experienced such a surprised reaction to our doing so. He repeated the verbal expression of his surprise and, on my prompting, shared it with three women who were walking along the road in the opposite direction.
They appeared to be coming back from the fields as one carried a long blade tool that resembles a machete, while the other a type of hoe. The one with the blade assumed a stance, with the tool across her chest, in what seemed a humorous defense of the tradition that disallows women to walk with their husbands. A man, who is a teacher at the orphanage, came by on his bicycle and joined the conversation and, he too, shared that such a practice, “… cannot be done.” Little else was discussed as the issue remained their focus of attention until we stopped to turn around. Only then did the first man say that we had taught them something and he wanted for us to come to his home to meet his family.
We were not prepared to continue our walk as we had already walked for quite some time, so declined and headed back. As we did, two young girls, carrying large bowls of flour on their heads, passed us and never stopped even though they passed other children who asked to have their pictures taken.
The hearing clinic had finished by the time we returned so we sat and talked with on of the Malawians who had helped with translations. Solomon is a student at the University of Maine and has been financially assisted by a woman benefactor he happened to meet a few years ago. When asked about his future intention, Solomon was clear that he wanted to return to become an educator. He was interested in our other projects so we showed the video of the well repair and then the recently developed hand cycle for which he was impressed.
The next morning, Janet Littlefield came to see us as she had not been there for the hearing clinic. She and Bill had driven to Lilongwe to drop someone off at the airport and he went on to Ntchisi Forest Lodge in order to see for himself what the place looked like.
After saying good bye, we headed back toward Lilongwe. When we reached the Shire River, I stopped at the Hippo View Hotel, which was familiar to us from a trip in 2004. Although we had not stayed there, it was a nice place to view the river. Even though we did not see hippos, we did hear them from across the river.
We stopped at the Dedza Pottery Factory for lunch—another location that was familiar from previous trips—and enjoyed the break before getting back on the road for the final leg. We arrived in Lilongwe in time to go directly to the bureau of exchange to get more money and then stop to see Mcdonald Ganisyeje at Land and Lake. He had heard from our clearing agent to say the shipment of medical devices had arrived and I had to go immediately to the airport to pick them up. So we headed to the Golden Peacock to unload before Kyle and I drove to the airport.
Mathews was waiting for us and we quickly loaded the largest box onto the top carrier. It was so large that it barely fit, while the next largest had to be pushed into the back of the Land Cruiser. I paid the duty, and Mathews fee of MK 20,000 then found that our vehicle would not start. One of the workers twisted the terminal and that was enough to re-establish the connection—something I should have thought of—and we were on our way.
We stopped to buy some beer and then returned to the Golden Peacock for dinner. Afterward, we unloaded the boxes and separated the devices so the one destined for Zambia was ready for the next day’s trip. There were bags of cereal and children’s backpacks that had been added to the shipment by Vin Pizziconi and I shared some of the cereal with the Golden Peacock workers who had helped unload the boxes. I also gave a backpack and cereal to Suleman for his young daughter and son.
After a special breakfast at the café in front of Land and Lake Safari, we loaded the trailer, to include Anastasia’s hand cycle, and climbed into the 9 passenger Land Cruiser for our day’s drive to the village of Mfuwe, and the Zambian, South Luangwa National Park. The drive takes most of a day as we must pass through customs at the border, pay USD $50 to enter Zambia, and once past the first major town (Chipata), the road is dirt.
We arrived in the afternoon and were met by one of the greeters who gave a short welcome and talk about safety issues (don’t walk about at night as elephants, leopards, and other animals pass through the camp) and scheduling for the meals and safari rides. Hippos come up on shore so the trail that leads from the camp to the dining area cannot be used after dark. There was a great degree of excitement amongst our group as even then we began to see animals in the wild, along the Luangwa River, they had only seen on TV or in zoos.
We settled into our cabin-tents, enjoyed the sunset, sounds and sights along the river, and waited until the driver brought the specially outfitted, open aired, Land Rover to drive us to the dining area for dinner. Afterward, we returned and headed for bed as the next morning’s wake-up would be early with a 6:00 AM departure for our first of four safari rides.

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July 14th

Blantyre to Little Field Orphanage (Chigamba Village near Nyenje Trading Centre), Malawi
Another new development—or perhaps a repeat new development. After loading up and heading out of Blantyre, we stopped at a ShopRite for provisions then began our drive on the Zomba Highway. After only about 15 miles along the paved, though bumpy road, the top carrier collapsed again. Everything had to be taken off the top and loaded inside along with the 8 of us.
Zomba was the next large population center and we arrived about 11:00. With a little guidance, we found someone who had top carriers and feet that would serve our needs. It took about 5 hours, some searching for steel to allow our carrier to fit the new feet, a local welder, and a great deal of patience, to get us back on the road.
Then, as we headed out of Zomba, another new development came upon us. For the first time in our experience in Malawi we came upon a speed zone equipped with a camera. Although I tend to drive under the speed limits—50 kph in this and most residential areas—the police had their camera set up at the bottom of a hill and caught me doing 61 kph. Apparently this location is lucrative for them as we saw many pulled over and we later learned that both Janet Littlefield and Bill, had been caught in the same place only recently.
I was given a citation and told to pay the fine (MK 5000) to a police officer who sat near by on a log. The entire episode was conducted in a friendly manner, and I did my best to maintain a pleasant demeanor as well, but given the day’s events, my normal effort to maintain safe speeds, and our reason for being there, the citation was somewhat difficult to take. None-the-less, I was glad to see that some effort was being carried out to reduce driving speed in at least this location. Malawian drivers, and especially minibus drivers, tend to drive too fast through congested areas.
With the delays, we were once again forced to drive in the dark and, at times, it seemed we were not on the right road. We reached Liwonde, on the Shire River, which is familiar to Clarice and I from previous visits, just after dusk. Our turnoff from there seemed obvious enough but we then rode for many miles, up a steep grade, with few trade centers along the way.
At one point, we came upon a typical police gate across the road and were glad to have opportunity to get assurance that we were on the right road. For some reason they made a point that my bicycle, on the front-mounted rack, was illegal but we told them that placement of the bicycle had not been mentioned by other officers. We were able to get them to focus on helping us with directions and Clarice gave one officer a pen—always a desired item—and we were on our way.
We reached the turn off at Nyenje Trading Centre and then found the dirt road that led to Little Field Orphanage. After another 5-6 km, we came upon our destination and children started to pour out of the gate as we drove onto the compound. There was a lot of excitement amongst the children and local people, and Janet and Bill were glad to see us. However, we hardly received any greetings from the volunteers who had been with us a few days before at Ntchisi Forest Lodge.
It was about 7:30 when we arrived and the children were having reading time along with the volunteers. As much as possible, the volunteers were reading with 1-2 children in the room where we sat down to eat dinner. The noise level was significant and we had a difficult time in talking with Bill and Janet. We learned some things about the operation of the orphanage and could readily tell that conditions were far more primitive than what we experienced at the SOS facility or any other place we had visited.
We were lodged in an old clinic outfitted with bunk beds. After another difficult day, we were ready for sleep.

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July 13th

Blantyre, Malawi
The audiology team was scheduled to provide a clinic at a school for the deaf located outside Blantyre. Of course we had heard it was ‘close’ but we found out it was much farther beyond the city than anticipated and we stopped several times for directions—each time the implication was that it was only a short distance. Neither roads nor the school are clearly marked and we had just about given up finding the school when we came upon it well off the main road.
By the time the team was set up, it was almost 11:00 and easy to tell there was concern that they would not complete the task by the end of the day. The school had designated 30 students to be tested and since many are truly deaf, each series of tests takes longer in order to properly determine their condition.
Kyle Karber was along and we waited until the team had started the testing to take some photos. The headmaster promised to return the team to our hotel so I would not have to drive back to get them. We headed back toward the hotel and watched for a hardware store to purchase bolts to further strengthen the top carrier. Along the way we found a garage and had them install the bolts as well as fix a loose tailpipe; all at a reasonable price.
By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was 2:00 PM and Clarice was beginning to wonder what had happened. The three of us had lunch and spent the afternoon catching up with email.
The day before, we had made arrangements with McDonald Ganisyeje’s aunt, Meria, to meet us at the hotel for dinner so we wanted to be sure to be ready when she and her son, Tito, arrived. The audiology team returned at 6:00 and reported that they had tested over 30 students and identified many who were truly deaf.
Meria and Tito arrived at 7:00 and, after introductions to the others, we four sat down for dinner. The conversation focused on many of the projects, to include the Kuroiler chicken and Malawians with disabilities, and Meria said she would contact people in the office of the minister of Agriculture as well as the Minister of Disabilities. As it is, the President (Mutharika) is also the Minister of Agriculture. She does not know him personally but knows people who work in his office. She will attempt to set up appointments for us in those offices as well as with the new tribal headsman at Njewa Village before we depart for the US.
We showed videos of one of the projects for a disabled boy in Senga Bay and President Obama’s speech in which he spoke about our project. She asked if I had anything on the Kuroiler project that could be shown and I pulled up a PowerPoint presentation then provided a copy on her flash drive.

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