Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I am now in Zomba and I am very happy to be here. Zomba was just designated a city and there are great hills, lakes, and people that reside here. Yesterday I was able to do some mountain biking and do some bicycle repair at Africycle. I am impressed with all the great work being done in Malawi to assist others. I really enjoyed taking the time to assist at Africycle and even if it was grabbing parts out of bins for the mechanics and tightening some bolts it feels fulfilling to be involved.

Yesterday I bicycled up the Zomba mountain to the lodge. The climb was all up hill and it took me over an hour. The down hill took me 15 minutes. I think I am the only person in Zomba with a helmet. There were other people with bicycles, but they were carrying large load of wood down the mountain to sell. There were also many kids selling wild strawberries, rasberries, and bananas. I have savored all three and they are fantastic.

I met a Noel from Australia who is a designer and engineer. He is working in design and also teaching computer classes at a local high school. We were speaking about bicycleing and he invited me to Africycle where he was going to help repair some bicycles. Africycle is a nonprofit orgainization that collects bicycles in Cananda and ships them to Malawi. They have a warehouse and repair building 3 miles out of Zomba and they have a waiting list for bicycles as they have become very popular and are fulfilling a need for inexpensive quality transportation. The website is africycle.org and here is a write up on the organization.

Who We Are Africycle is a charitable organization bringing people together to improve access to bicycles in Africa.
Based in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada, Africycle functions through many facets, bringing communities together to pursue the common goal of providing people in Malawi access quality used bicycles. Many Malawians experience difficulty accessing quality bicycles, due to economic constraints and the limited availability of affordable, reliable bicycles in the local market. Africycle believes that by providing bicycles it can be a catalyst for sustainable and effective development in Malawian communities. To accomplish this mission, Africycle follows a defined plan of action which consists of two parts on opposite ends of the planet: The ‘Recycle-a-Bike’ program in Canada and a bicycle repair shop and distribution center in Malawi

Monday, August 25, 2008

Man with three chickens on his back, kids in a village near Balaka- she ran out from a bath to get in a photo, little girl-big smile, backyard river

Malawi blog august 21 2008
I have been fortunate to spend the week traveling to villages with the VCT counselors in the University of Pennsylvania and Chancellor College. The research study is examining beliefs and behaviors. The study provides free HIV testing to participants so people are aware of their status and can then go to the hospital to receive HIV medication. The study uses vans to reach villages and hires a mostly Malawian staff to conduct the fieldwork.
I have really enjoyed my time traveling throughout the villages talking with the Malawian counselors and meeting many of the Malawian people and children in the villages. During interviews I have played soccer with the children and danced to music from the van speakers. The people are very warm hearted and kind. When the kids see me they yell out Inzugu which means white person. I really enjoy all the warm smiles, waves, thumbs ups, and calling out “bobo” and “shopshop”- which translates into “what's up.”
I know how to say- How are you? I'm fine, and you? Thank you. What's up.
Sharing the love- two of the graduate students from the University of Pennsalyavnia were flying out home and the VCT counselors put together a going away party complete with song, poems, decorations, gifts, food, soda, and music. The graduate students worked for two months on the research study and went into the field with the VCT counselors. In speaking with the graduate students I heard a lot about how the Malawian VCT counselors had a huge impact on them and they were sad to leave Malawi- turns out the students also had a big impact on the VCT counselors- what a great connection that was made and what a great send off for the graduate students.
Here are a number of photos.
My brother and his wife where we were staying in Blyntare for the first night.
The new hospital in Neno that Regan will be working at when it opens- built by Partners in Health (PIH).
Famous African Tree during the drive from Neno to Balaka.
Sunday soccer game- mostly without shoes.
Getting ready for the day.
Man carrying chickens on his back.
Kids in village.
Girl in village.
My current backyard on what I've named Hippo River.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

South Africa Has a Lot to Share

I am having a great beginning to my year in Africa. My good friend from college Steve Davis is working on his doctorate in African Studies in Cape Town for the year and he has been able to make friends with many South Africans. We were able to travel throughout the Eastern Cape and stay at local people's houses and really experience the local culture. We also were able to visit the township in Cape Town and see the living conditions for many of the people of South Africa.

I am currently in Malawi, I flew in today, and I'm with my brother and his wife Regan. They are putting me to work right away, which I am grateful for, and Monday I will be going to the villages with researchers to where I will assist with HIV tests and survey data. I'm happy to begin to meet people and experience the culture.

I have thought of this often and I am here to learn. I am excited to learn.

Here are some photos- Our first home stay in Mthata, near where Nelson Mandela was born and has his home, playing soccer with local children, and a woman ironing a shirt in the township to begin the day.