From Peter Minjkale, CMO, hesd of K2TASO, our Malawian sister organization:
20th March 2018
Dear Naomi and Jane,
SOLAR POWER INSTALLATION FOR CHAMWAVI COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOL
On behalf of K2 TASO I am pleased to inform you that solar electricity power installation for Chamwavi secondary school in preparation for computer studies project has been completed Today.
PHOTO 1: SOLAR POWER SYSTEM INSTALLED: Charger controller (black and fitted to the wall) connected to two batteries of 120 Amperes each the Inverter (1000 watts) supplying 8 double sockets and four bulbs in the computer room for Chamwavi community secondary school.
Chamwavi headmaster’s office has benefitted from the solar power as shown above. The same applies to the deputy headmaster’s office. From Right To Left: Mr. Gidala- Deputy headmaster, Mr. Masaiti- Headmaster for Chamwavi secondary school, Peter Minjale- K2 TASO Director and finally Geoffrey Kamkwamba- The man behind the success of the entire solar power installation as he has done the good work. Thanks to William Kamkwamba, Geff’s cousin for connecting us to this blessed hands man.
We will also donate cement and the school will manage river sand and labour for the sealing of the electricity pipes so that they invisible.
We are very grateful to BTM, Jane, Naomi and all the people behind support of introducing computer studies here in rural Malawi, Kasungu east.
2018 Program Updates
March 20, 2018
Our final new 2018 project is not really new, but a direction to be headed in on a road we’ve already taken. I’m talking about cows. If you’ve been following us at BTM for awhile, you’d know that we have managed, thus far, to donate 24 cows in our area of the Kasungu East District. Most of these are females, and, therefore, milk producers. It is our hope that we will reach a critical mass of donated cows at some point in the future which will produce enough milk to make a milk processing center and distribution network worth attempting. Sometime after that, if enough milk is produced it could be provided to primary school students in the local schools, improving nutrition while establishing a market and helping raise the economic standards of the local farmers. The Heifer Foundation has done something just like this in southern Tanzania, about 120 miles north of the Kasungu East District. Heifer doesn’t do work in our area, but we think this is such a great idea that we hope to reproduce it. Our next new initiative for 2018 is a “Women’s Studies/Empowerment” Curriculum. This grew out of an ongoing colloboration with Tabia Kazemebe, a Malawi native who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Boston. Tabia got in touch with us when she found out what BTM was doing in Malawi. Tabia spent time working with UNHCR in a refugee camp in Malawi which houses people from many war-torn African states (they are safe in Malawi, which is not a violent country). She was struck both by the second class status of her fellow Malawi sisters and of many of the refugee women as well and hopes to find a way to change beliefs and therefore ultimately the status of women in her country and perhaps, someday, all of Africa. To this end, Tabia is working closely with Jenn Hardy and Naomi Lisse of BTM, Ellie von Wellsheim of the Mooncatcher Project, Jacqueline Minjale of K2TASO, and Lalita Matta, MD and Louis Cote, HS English teacher, who are coming along on this year’s BTM trip. As we develop this curriculum, we are working closely with the headmasters of the secondary schools in our part of the Kasungu East District to ensure that it is acceptable, culturally sensitive, and likely to be taught. We hope to begin an on-line book club as part of this initiative. We plan to teach the first segment of the curriculum as part of our upcoming April 2018 trip to Malawi. Wish us luck!
The next New Project of 2018 is “Artemesia.” Consumption of the leaves of this plant has the potential of reducing malaria rates and perhaps effectively treating malaria as well. Although safe to consume by humans, for a variety of reasons, its use is currently somewhat controversial. We are looking into setting up a research study in Malawi to see if it would be an effective prophylactic against malaria. If you have the time, you should do a literature search on this topic. It is most interesting! Dr Lisse, President of BTM, will soon be meeting with Dr. Pamela Weathers, an expert on artemesia and it’s anti-malaria potential, to see what BTM can do in this area.
March 19, 2018:
Next on the list of New 2018 Projects is “Conservation Agriculture.” We at Bridges to Malawi have met some remarkable people who are now advising us about the best ways to help the poor subsistence farmers of the Kasungu East District in Malawi get better crop yields in as sustainable manner.as possible. They recommended that we encourage “no-till” or “limited till” agriculture. This includes the use of mulch (not commonly done in Malawi), which provides more organic material for the soil, traps more moisture in the soil, and reduces weed proliferation. In addition, we hope to introduce the Magoye Ripper or a similar cultivation device. The Ripper is designed to minimize the amount of soil disturbed as crops are planted, thus limiting topsoil and moisture loss. We plan to conduct a study intended to convince the local farmers of the benefits of such changes in technique. Each ripper will cost about $100. We will replace all of our current plows with these and use them exclusively in all donations to aid farmers in the future. We hope to have them locally made by a blacksmith or two as a way of aiding the local economy, something we always strive to do. As part of our desire to change agricultural practices in the Kasungu East District, we will be paying for an agricultural expert soon to be hired by K2TASO, to help ensure that we carry out our projects in as effective and culturally acceptable a manner as possible.
Next is the “Palma Soap” Project. Palma Soap is an mosquito repellent soap which can be made locally in Malawi. Bridges to Malawi was instrumental in bringing Enactus Edinburgh (a Scottish University based group) together with K2TASO (our Malawian partner organization) to establish a small business run by local farm women in the Kasungu East District. These women have already made 40 bars of the soap and plan to ramp up their production as their market increases. This is yet another way that Bridges to Malawi is hoping to help the local economy and reduce malaria infection and death rates.
March 17, 2018: Solar Dehydrator
They say that Malawi has 3 seasons, the rainy season, the dry season, and the “hungry” season (when a subsistence farm family hopes to have saved enough food to live on while waiting for their growing crops to reach maturity and be harvested). Most of Malawi’s farmers don’t have access to electricity and so refrigeration is not an option. Survival during the “hungry” season is particularly difficult during those all -to -frequent years when the rains fail and reduce crop yields,sometimes making it a matter of life and death. We hope to institute small businesses which will produce simple and cheap-to-make solar powered fruit/vegetable dehydrators which can be used by farm families to preserve food for the “hungry” season.
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Solar Power Rural School Electrification:
Last year we donated a solar powered battery charged computer tablet system to a rural Malawi secondary school without electricity, teaching faculty and students how to use and program the tablets, which had been filled with educational software, including “the internet without the internet,” Khan Academy. This year we decided to power the schools directly. We raised enough money, with your help, to pay for the installation of solar power electrical systems in 9 rural non-electrified schools in the Kasungu East District of Malawi. The first school should have its power system up and running by April 7, when our annual Bridges to Malawi trip begins. We will be bringing approximately 30 more laptops to donate, divided among 3 of these soon-to-be electrified schools. We hope, by doing this, to enhance the education of secondary school students in the area in which we work, making it possible for some to become so facile with computer use that they can get a job in the city, earn a better income, send money back home to their parents, and thus break the perpetual generation after generation cycle of poverty inherent to the 80% of Malawi’s population who are subsistence farmers. We hope to electrify even more schools while providing more laptops over the next few years until every student, both primary and secondary, in the Kasungu East District can enjoy this benefit. We will also be covering the windows and doorways of these schools with mesh screen to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and therefore malaria as part of the project. Please help us out!