Another Hero Headed Home

Finding ways to gain the necessary funds for so many programs in Malawi is a never-ending necessity. We, of the Malawi Project, have been rather shy about asking for money, even when for such a noble cause as building a new health care center in Malawi. However, when we see the suffering taking place so needlessly, it compels members us to ask that you help us to improve the lives of these people by contributing the needed funds.

It is so fulfilling when others, often those who have never gone to Africa, recognize the need and help change lives. A couple of weeks ago it was very touching to have Steve and Deborah Rew in Evergreen, Colorado offer to donate 50% of the sales from a new recording Steve has done called, “Another Hero Headed Home.” They are doing this during the entire month of February. You can listen to it before you buy it, and then know your purchase will help build the new health care facility in Malawi. Steve was honored to sing this song at the Inspirational Country Music Awards last October.

Another Hero Coming HomeRichard (Dick) Stephens, of the Malawi Project, notes, “When I first listened to Steve give the narration that goes with this song, and then sing its words so meaningfully, I suddenly wished my dad were still alive so I could give this recording to him as a gift to recognize all he meant to me. For me it is too late with my dad, but I do have some others in my life that I want to recognize. Perhaps you have fathers, sons and others in your life as well, that this song speaks to you about. Don’t wait until the time is past to tell them. Each of us know one or more heroes who have inspired us with their faith. Let’s tell them now with a copy of Steve’s song. You’ll be glad you did, and at the same time glad you were able to help build a hospital in central Africa.”

You can place your order here.

African Elephants

Liwonde Game Park, Malawi … There are few exceptions. Almost all who travel to Africa are impressed with African animals, and want to see them up close in their natural environment. The Liwonde Game Park in Southern Malawi does not disappoint, and one of the chief attractions is the large number of African elephants who live within the park’s boundaries.

Elephants in Malawi

There are a lot of unique characteristics with the elephant, but one that captures interest and fascination are an elephant’s eyes. Unlike other animals the eyes of an elephant reflect their emotions. Fear, boredom, envy, determination, anger are all emotions that are easily seen in the eyes. The eyes of African elephants appear to be half closed, and they do not see well. However, the lack of vision can be offset with memory. There are documented cases where a blind matriarch was leading a herd. Their eye lashes on both the upper and lower eyelids, and serve to protect their eyes.

The tusks of an elephant are actually massive, enlarged, incisor teeth coming out of the upper jaw. The tusk is actually a hollow shaft, and contains nerve endings. If a tusk is broken the animal is in pain, and can become irritable and dangerous. Tusks grow to different lengths, and like humans who favor one hand or the either (right handed and left handed), elephants use their trunks differently depending on whether the animals favor their left or their right. Their tusks are excellent tools, and handle a large number of responsibilities, including lifting timbers, digging roots, tearing the bark from trees for food, and removing obstacles from their paths. They are made of ivory, and this has been the downfall of large numbers of elephants once roaming the African savannah. Ivory is so valuable on the world market that, even through it is forbidden to kill an animal for its tusks, poaching is actually on the increase across the continent. This is so serious it is actually threatening the future of the African elephant.

Their trunks work closely with their tusks to handle difficult tasks, and also serve as their “funnel” for taking in water. They have a keen sense of smell and can detect a water source as much as twelve miles away. Their nostrils are in the tip of their trunk, and are their source for breathing and smelling. An elephants trunk is so sensitive it can detect pressure as light as 0.25 mm, and so powerful they can left weights as heavy as 550 lbs (250 kg).

Sounds originate from the larynx, and then it is amplified by vibrating columns of air in the trunk. They have a rich and varied language, and can be heard talking back and forth even when the other elephants are many miles away.

Elephants travel in family groups, often as many as 20 to 30 in a group, with 2 or 3 females leading the group. These lead matriarchs are often sisters. The authority of the group rests with the mothers, and they demand respect from the other members of the family. Males go their own way, and hang out with other males.

BUV Fills Transportation Need

The Malawi Project has sent three Basic Utility Vehicles (BUV) for use in Malawi. These units supply needed transportation in a nation that moves from place to place on foot, and transports most things on heads and backs. One such unit is based at the Namikango Mission and Clinic where the Project has its southern point of distribution for much of Malawi. BUVs take much of the load off of man or woman power, moving it more efficiently and effectively. According to Ben Hayes, who moved from Houston, Texas a year ago, to be the station chief at Namikango, “This unit is being used every day for some task. We don’t know what we would be without it. It is a workhorse when it comes to the tasks around the mission.”

BUV Basic Utility Vehicle

Wilson Tembo, the Director for Warehouse Operations, and the administrator for the Naminkango Clinic, says this about the BUV. “It would be nearly impossible to do all that we do if it were not for the BUV. It would at least require the addition of more staff support members. It is a real asset when it comes to moving people, wood, medical supplies, and other things around the mission.”

In many of the venues where the Malawi Project is working, a BUV could make a critical difference in the work load and performance. In Senga Bay, Samantha Ludick, Director of Cool Projects, often uses one of the Project supplied V-Tractors to transport things that could easily be handled by a BUV cheaper than with the farm tractor. She notes, “With fuel prices rushing upward at an alarming rate we feel the pinch, and we are looking for ways to accomplish more with less in resources and funding. To have a BUV would supplement what we are doing with the farm tractors. Just think how much we could add value to both of these units with thei addition of a BUV. For instance, we could raise the crops with the help of the tractor, then send them to market with the BUV. This would be only one example of what we could do with both units. We so appreciate those who are helping the Malawi Project bring these resources to the country. It gives us hope and encourages us to step forward and do our part to make the country successful.”

A Con-Tree-Bution

Fact – The World Bank reports that between 1990 and 2000 alone, more than a fifth of Malawi’s forests vanished.

Fact – Lake Malawi is home to some of the greatest fish diversity of any lake on earth, but deforestation is resulting in soil erosion and silt problems.

Fact – By 2004, about 16% of Malawi was under some form of protection. The country is home to 658 bird species, 108 mammals, 207 reptiles, 56 amphibians, and 3,756 plant species.

Seedlings being grown to repopulate Malawi's forests.

Since 2005 the Malawi Project has been actively trying to affect the future of Malawi’s forests. Tucked within the plan to help the poor by providing food and clothing is the Shoes for Trees program. In its focus to provide shoes for the children, handicapped, elderly, invalids, widows and widowers, and poor in the villages the Project (and the Malawi organizations that work with the Project) are focused on sustainable programs to encourage the people to make a contribution while receiving the shoes. This is done so the people do not see the shoe program as a give away that breeds dependency, but a program that helps people make a contribution that will give them a sense of self worth, and having made a contribution to their families, community, and nation.

In a recent shoe distribution program in Chopi Village near Zomba, Wilson Tembo reports, “The Shoes for Trees” program by the Malawi Project is increasingly making a big impact to the Nation – More trees are being planted. Now, more villagers are participating in raising seedlings ready for this year’s planting season.

Near the home of group Village headman Chopi in Zomba, 40,000 trees were planted last season. Now, due to the initiative, 44 villages are participating in tree planting exercise, and there is hope to increase the number of trees to 100,000 this season. For this to happen, a total of 30 nursery beds have been raised in readiness for the planting season. The Forestry Department is providing the necessary materials and technical guidance.

The provision of shoes as incentives to these people has increased the hard working spirit and dedication towards the work.

Mr. Gagula, the District Forestry Officer for Zomba District, had this to say, ‘In the 2012/2013 season the District registered a total of 2.9 million trees that were planted. These were facilitated by several initiatives such as Shoes for Trees program.’”


Over the River and Through The Woods

You may have heard a song during this holiday season -  “Over the River and Through the Woods.”  You know, to grandmother’s house we go song?  Well, hopefully you made it to grandma’s house (or those you love made it to your house, grandma!).  Hopefully you made fond memories, there were gifts, warm fires, hugs, and plenty of good food.

Mountains Near DedzaPlease take a moment to consider going “over the river and through the woods”  means something far different to an expectant mother in near Dedza, Malawi.  For them, “Over the river” can reflect what is about to take place as the first labor pains begin, and the fearful, expectant mother leaves the village, crosses the river, climbs the mountain, and makes her way nearly 20 miles to the nearest district hospital. The trip “through the woods” can be  life threatening for both her and her baby. Her only option is to leave early and “camp out” somewhere near the hospital waiting for the pains to begin.  This brings a whole new set of potential problems for care, food preparation, and a place to stay until the time comes. Motorized vehicles are a luxury that these women will not see.  Here is what the terrain looks like.

The need for a new birthing center in the mountains northwest of Dedza is critical, and the Malawi Project, and Dzidalire Community Development Group need your help. Dzidalire has obtained the necessary permits, charters and surveys. The village people in the area have cleared the land and planted thousands of trees across the property. They have hand-made the bricks for the buildings, and have carved a road up and over the mountain with sheer manpower, machetes, and hand shovels. The Malawi Project has shipped in the equipment and supplies to open the birthing center. All that remains is the funding for construction.

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  May God bless us and these young mothers in 2014.