November 5, 2020
Dear Friends of Bridges to Malawi,
Just wanted to remind you that Giving Tuesday is coming up soon, and we hope that you will consider helping us out with our many projects this year. We promise not to bother you again for Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa BUT please consider us as well for giving as part of your celebration of those holidays (we are listed in Amazon Smile).
Remember, 100% of all money you give us goes towards our programs. Any administrative costs are paid for by my wife and me.
Since Paypal takes a piece of the action, we would prefer it if you mail a check made out to Bridges to Malawi sending it to 7 Curley Drive, Hudson, MA. 01749. If that’s too inconvenient, then please use the Donate page to donate via PayPal. Thanks so much!
For your information, below is a list of our projects (accomplished/planned) for 2020 in addition to estimated costs for some projects in 2021.
COVID 19 Preparation
We donated $8100 split between our sister Malawian NGO K2TASO and St. Andrews Hospital to help them prepare for COVID 19. This money was well spent on training, PPE, and rural handwashing stations. Fortunately, COVID has not been a huge problem there. Reported cases as of Oct 27, 2020 were 5894 with 183 deaths.
We have constructed a barn and milking parlor, establishing a high-milk producing (Holstein and Friesian) 6 dairy cow demonstration farm while forming a local dairy cooperative donating 24 more cows in the process. 8 of these heifers are now pregnant and will, in 9 months, start to produce between 15-20 liters of milk a day. We hope that the remainder of the herd once successfully inseminated, will do the same. Contrast this with the current local Zebu cross cows which produce 1-2 liters of milk a day. This means better nutrition and economic opportunity for farm families. The remaining 2020 part of this project is identification and purchase of appropriate sized and affordable milk chillers so that farmers don’t lose their milk to spoilage during the interval between milking and transport to the large refrigerated milk tank at our collection and processing center to be built in 2021 ( $68,000 was spent so far on the dairy project with another $2000 planned for the milk chillers. We’ll need an additional $72,000 in 2021 to construct the collection and processing center. Any help will be greatly appreciated!)
Medical Mission Trip
In 2020 our annual medical mission trip was cancelled due to COVID 19. We hope to have our usual trip in April 2021 after the annual high school contest. We also hope to have a second trip in May 2021 to accommodate those students who couldn’t go this year. Such plans, are of course dependent on vaccine availability. (Estimated trip costs for the high school contest winner is $2500 for 2021)
We donated 550 chickens to poor farmers this year. The farmers will pass on the first-born chick to another farm family for free. We will also be donating an incubator so that even more chickens can be made available for donation by keeping our costs down. ($2650 spent, another $4,000 needed in 2020 for the incubator and a brooder building)
By year’s end we will have planted 200,000 more tree seedlings to add to the total of 75,000 viable trees we planted from 2017 to 2019. Everywhere in the world we all need to plant as many trees as possible to help combat climate change. ($6500 spent in 2020, another $6500 needed in 2021).
This year we purchased 6,000 bamboo saplings from a farm in Zambia for delivery in early December. Bamboo is a wonderful way of combating deforestation by giving farmers a sustainable alternative to wood when they need to make charcoal. We are learning propagation techniques so that we won’t have to purchase any more plants going forward. Our hope is that we can start producing enough bamboo to establish a plantation for provision locally and to the rest of Malawi. ($15,000 spent in 2020)
Wello Water Wheels
In 2020 we bought 700 Wello water wheels and shipped them from Mumbai, India to Malawi making it so that women and girls won’t have to carry heavy buckets filled with up to 20 gallons of water on their heads or shoulders. ($29,000 spent so far to purchase the Wellos and have them transported to Malawi. We are currently negotiating with the Malawi government which wants $12,500 in import duties, a potential additional expense and big surprise to us since they have not charged us import duties on any of our donations in the past and we will be giving all the Wellos away to their people).
In 2020 we hope to build two structures for grain storage (or purchase 2 shipping containers, whatever is cheaper) as a bulwark against future drought related famine. We will not be able to do this if we have to pay the import duty in the Wellos, so keep your fingers crossed or send us a big check! (Estimated cost $5,000 per structure).
We donated 3 Butterfly IQs in 2019, significantly upgrading the medical diagnostic imaging capability in the Kasungu District, which has no functioning X-Ray department for 870,000 people. In 2020 we purchased a 4th Butterfly IQ as well as a more conventional portable ultrasound device and probe. ($5300 spent in 2020)
Cows and Ploughs
Our initially donated herd of 24 cows has now increased to 43! The farmer recipients are very grateful. It once took a farmer 5-6 weeks to cultivate 5 acres using a primitive hoe and his back. It takes a day to plow the same area! In 2018 we introduced the Magoye Ripper, a plow that only digs a narrow line in the earth and thus preserves topsoil integrity and limits moisture loss. The farmers liked it because it did, indeed, increase crop yield, so we donated 2 more in 2019. (We plan to donate 4 more Magoye Rippers in 2021 at a cost of $520).
Drinking tea made from the leaves of this plant significantly reduces the chance of getting malaria. In 2019 we donated enough plants to protect 300 farm families. In 2020 we used plant cuttings to augment the number of people protected. (In 2021 we would like to purchase more plants to protect even more people from malaria. Each plant costs about 1.50. We gave each farmer 6 plants. Your $27 donation will thus help protect 3 entire farm families from malaria. $90 will protect 10 families (a total of about 70 people), while $2700 protects all 300 farm families new to this program.
In 2020 45 farm families (about 315 people) were enrolled in the program, which provides $9 a month for 12 months plus another $10 once for seeds and farm tools to the poorest farmers who are usually share croppers renting the land and paying rent in crops first before they can feed their family. In return for the money we give, the farmers are expected to grow more nutritious non-traditional crops such as soy instead of corn and tobacco, and to understand that our help in general is for one year only. Farmers are also taught to mulch and use other conservation agriculture techniques to enhance crop production. Our efforts have helped reduce malnutrition and put more money in farmers’ pockets at the same time. All told we have helped over 4200 people since the program began. Over 80% of beneficiaries have been able to purchase their own land as a result of this incredibly successful program and over 94% have graduated from the program after 1 year. (2020 cost $5310. Estimated 2021 cost $5500. Your contribution of $118 will help us help a single farm family, averaging about 7 people, for a full year).
We are in the process of design and purchase of hydroponic demonstration projects for an estimated cost of $10,000 in 2020.
Internet Access for 1 High School/Village
In 2021 we would like to pilot providing internet access to an entire rural village. The major cost will be in paying for data. We’ll need $250 for this.
The medical system in Malawi is chronically underfunded. As a consequence, patients often go without life saving medication. In an attempt to remedy this, Bridges to Malawi instituted a $500 quarterly payment for the purposes of medication purchase in Malawi by our partner K2TASO, who then gives these medications away to needy patients free of charge. (In 2020 we spent $2000 towards saving lives directly in this way and we plan to do the same in 2021. Your contribution of $200 will help us meet 10% of this annual cost).
Solar Power for Primary Schools
Now that we have successfully provided solar power for the secondary high/middle) schools in our catchment area, we would like to initiate the same process in the primary (elementary) schools with a plan ultimately to provide laptops there as well. In 2021 we would like to start with $4500 for 3 schools at $1500 per school. Your donation of $450 will get us 10% of the way there. Education breaks the cycle of poverty!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and help out! If you have even more time on your hands, please check out the news section to see what we’ve accomplished.
Thanks so much!
“We are all optimistic for a better Malawi. A new Malawi without scarcity of hospital items, new Malawi without corruption, new Malawi without significant famine, new Malawi without nepotism, new Malawi which will create job opportunities, new Malawi which will offer quality education to its people and indeed new Malawi which will respect human rights. We pray for our Mother Malawi to favour the disadvantaged especially those in rural settings”
Peter Minjale, Clinical Director at St Andrew’s Hospital