News – What has been Accomplished!

February 19, 2021

The Wellos finally made it!!  Talked to Peter today.  As you can see from these pictures, he is now out and about, though still gets winded if he pushes himself.  His appetite is back (I’d say he lost about 15 pounds).  Now that he feels better, he has re-involved himself with our projects and things are moving along.  Tom Hunt (of Medic Malawi), Peter and I have agreed to purchase up to 16  10L/min oxygen concentrators after research including consultation with a friend’s MSF colleagues in Baghdad convinced us that we could accomplish (and afford) provision of 16L/min O2 flow by hooking up 2  10L/min concentrators (the concentrators are billed as 10L/min but actually average only about 8L/min flow).  15 L/min is all that is necessary to provide adequate flow for a nonrebreather mask, and this solution is just as effective in providing sufficient flow as O2 directly form an oxygen cylinder.  The oxygen concentrators cost about $2,000USD apiece, while an oxygen tank refilling system would have cost between $130,000-276,000USD; not possible without Bill Gates! BUT fortunately, also not necessary.  We have been assured that there is sufficient power available to make all 16 at KDH, 2 at SAH, and 2 at K2TASO work.

February 13, 2021

Peter continues to recover and now has enough energy to restart working. We talked to him yesterday and briefly today and he sounds like his old self, neither tired nor winded.  His sats are still not normal on room air, but he’s getting there, and he says he feels much better.  He also informed us that our dairy project had its first calf born today!  It’s the result of artificial insemination, something new in this area of Malawi (so much for Valentine’s Day!).  It’s a boy and Cindy tells me that you can’t milk them (who knew?) but still, we males do have our uses.

February 11, 2021

Hi Everyone, Cindy and I talked to Peter yesterday.  He sounded tired, a little winded and raspy, but overall told us he was feeling better. His sats are running between 91-93% on room air, which is up from 90-92% the day before.  He is receiving heparin injections at home and will stay on them until he can be switched to oral anticoagulant medication.  Thanks so much Bert for your efforts to get the rivoraxaban to Peter.  Just so you know, I believe the dose will be different since Peter is already anticoagulated (i.e, he’ll need less medicine) and Peter knows this.  Since we were running down parallel tracks, Bert, I decided to proceed as well with a purchase and shipment of 3 months’ worth of apixaban, which is also now on its way to Malawi via DHL Express (thanks for doing the research on that).  This way there’s a back up shipment in case the rivoraxaban doesn’t make it OR, more likely, a full treatment for another patient.  Certainly won’t do this again via the US system since the same dose of rivoraxaban that appears to have cost you 315 Canadian was listed as $2000 USD.  We are continuing to pursue the provision of oxygen  and sourcing anticoagulation meds in the area, fyi.  We’ll keep you informed.

February 7, 2021

FYI, here’s some good news! Peter is out of the hospital (see below from Jacque).  Bert Claek is in process of getting rivoraxaban in Vancouver and then couriering it to Malawi to prevent any further pulmonary embolism.  Hopefully Peter can (and will) bridge with therapeutic IM (?SC) heparin in the meantime.  Thanks for all your prayers and support.  We’re actively working to make sure that oxygen cylinders and oxygen (and hopefully anticoagulation) will be available to the others in need in the area.  Google an article in The Scottsman  titled “COVID:  Bill Gates’ internationalism, not Donald Trump’s nationalism…”  Great article, BUT no, Bill Gates isn’t helping us and our partners Medic Malawi and K2 Foundation  Love to all! Brian

Hello Friends,
Be informed that Peter has been discharged today from the hospital.He is not using oxygen suppliments since 10 hours ago .His saturation is around 90 and is able to move around.
We thank God for your prayers.[…]
Regards,
Jacque

February 5, 2021

Thanks so much for the tremendous outpouring of support and good wishes to Peter Minjale as he is, thank God, slowly recovering from COVID19. Because of your generosity we’ve raised over $16,000 to date to help provide him and the other patients in the ICU at Kasungu District Hospital with oxygen with an overall goal of putting an oxygen cylinder filling system at St. Andrews Hospital. Depending on the cost of this system, we may also use some of this money towards purchasing anti-coagulation medication. COVID almost killed Peter by causing him to develop pulmonary embolism, which can be prevented and treated with anti-coagulation. We have also been asked to help establish a COVID ward at St. Andrews or nearby. Will keep you posted. Thanks again and stay safe and well!!

January 29, 2021

Unfortunately there has been a significant COVID 19 outbreak in Malawi since the end of 2020.  The total number of cases as of Jan 28, 2021 was 23,020 while the total number of deaths was 643.  Of the COVID cases, 16,437 have occurred since the beginning of January 2021, while 454 of the deaths occurred during that same period.  Our beloved colleague, Peter Minjale has been infected with COVID19, but, thank God, he appears to be recovering without getting seriously ill.  As soon as we heard about the worsening of the outbreak, we asked both Peter, now working exclusively for K2TASO and Tom Hunt, who runs Medic Malawi (which runs St. Andrews Hospital)  what we could do to help.  They requested funds to purchase more PPE as well as more technical advice on how to protect staff and prevent viral transmission.  We  consequently rushed $2500 US dollars as well as CDC recommendations to both.  Let’s hope this outbreak burns out soon! 

Bamboo: In the meantime, Peter tells me that almost all of the 6,000 bamboo plants we donated have survived after being planted in a number of villages. 

Reforestation: Peter also informs me that 90% of the 200,000 saplings donated by us for reforestation have been planted.

Dairy Project: He tells me that 21 of our 29 cow dairy herd are now pregnant (we lost a cow presumably to snakebite but are awaiting the official autopsy).  Our plans for the next stage of the dairy project are proceeding despite the pandemic.  We have just purchased a used motorbike so that the most distant farmers in our diary cooperative can transport milk to our processing center as quickly as possible, hopefully, thereby avoiding spoilage.   We will also be installing a milk refrigeration tank, milk pasteurizing system, yogurt maker, and solar power system to run all this and the rest of K2TASO headquarter needs in the next few months.  We could use $5,000 US dollars to this end if you wish to help us out. 

Wello Water Wheels:  Just before he got sick, Peter Minjale accomplished a miracle.  After 5 months of dogged determined negotiations with the Malawi Revenue Authority, Peter got them to waive any import duty (they had initially asked for about $12, 200 US dollars) on the Wellos, making it possible for us to dedicate these much needed  funds to other high priority projects such as COVID relief and the dairy project.

August 23, 2020

Covid-19: Here’s the latest from Malawi.  First, the small COVID-19 outbreak in Mtunthama is over.  The country of Malawi overall has seen 5,382 cases with 168 deaths. First case was reported on April 3rd and new  cases have been trending down since August 12.

Dairy Project:  Unfortunately our excitement over cow pregnancies was premature.  None of the heifers are pregnant, apparently because the frozen semen we used had no viable sperm in it.  We are in the process of acquiring more semen and ensuring that it has viable sperm at time of purchase and is handled properly so that viability is maintained  throughout our transport, storage, and insemination process.  Since we’re new at this, I think of such a minor setback as merely a learning opportunity.

Wello Water Wheels: 700 water wheels have been purchased along with the container that they will be shipped from Mumbai India.  The ship is supposed to leave for Dar Es Salaam , Tanzania in the next 10 days, so hopefully the container will be in Mtunthama by mid-late September.  The container will be used for a combination of storage, office space, and possibly, a small hydroponic project.

Bamboo:  6,000 bamboo saplings have been purchased and will be shipped from Zambia around Aug 27 with the plan that they will arrive in Mtunthama on Aug 28.  They will be distributed for free by our sister organization K2TASO soon thereafter.

Ultrasound Probe:  The convex array abdominal ultrasound probe for the Edan 60 Ultrasound machine we donated to St. Andrews in 2013 has broken and we were asked to replace it.  After much research, we were able to find a replacement, which should arrive in Mtunthama next week.

Hydroponic/Aquaponic System:  I have now successfully grown lettuce, radishes, bok choy, with very little effort, using the waste from 4 cichlids (fish native to Lake Malawi but very easy to obtain at PETCO) converted by bacteria to nitrates as the sole nutrient.  I have also grown peas and tomatoes using this system but yields are lower than I’d like so far.  I have also been able to grow carrots in a separate perlite hydroponic system.  Peter Minjale is looking into acquiring 2 systems much larger systems (mine is only good for 51 plants).

Solar Powered Milk Chiller:  A work in progress.  Having trouble finding a company to provide us with a working system. Please contact me at lisse@massmed.org if you have any ideas about this, including the knowledge to convert a small freezer or refrigerator to solar.

Reforestation Project: 200,000 saplings are in the process of being planted as we speak.

July 28, 2020

Just wanted to give you all an update on our projects and COVID 19 in Mtunthama, Malawi where we work.  There has been a small outbreak of COVID 19 there including 1 nurse from St. Andrews who was staying in the orphanage.  She was never hospitalized and had apparently acquired it in Lilongwe.  Her 36 close contacts in Mtunthama were all tested and were all negative.  St. Andrews has seen 2 other cases, both referred to Kasungu District Hospital, 1 of whom died.  4 healthcare workers at the Mtunthama government clinic (not K2TASO) have also tested positive about 2 weeks ago and are all OK.  Peter says the current total COVID cases in the Kasungu District are now at 51 with 1 death.  Don’t know the numbers for the country altogether, but so far their mortality and infection rates seem to be well below ours.

In light of the above, Peter an I talk once a week about what to do about any and all of our projects.  Thus far, he feels we should continue business as usual, so as money has become available, that’s how we’ve proceeded.  So here’s the good news, and there’s plenty of it.

1) DAIRY PROJECT:

        a) 15/30 cows have now been artificially inseminated and 5 are pregnant for certain.  The others were done too recently to be tested. This means we will have milk production sometime in May.

        b) The local Malawi agriculture government officers  are so impressed with what we are doing that they asked if we could donate some Friesian bull semen “straws” ($2.50 apiece) to them.  The want to start crossing Friesian genes with those of the local Malawi Zebu cattle because the Friesians produce about 10-15 Liters of milk a day while the Zebus produce only about 1-2 Liters.  The Friesian milk is also much higher in fat and protein.  This means that sometime in the future, between us and the government, the entire Kasungu District of 800,000 plus people could benefit from the consequent huge increase in nutrition and economic gain available to them.  Pretty cool, huh?

         c) The local government run veterinary school wants to start using our dairy project site as a place to send their students to learn best practices, including artificial insemination, because they have been so impressed with the work we are doing.  Total expenditure ytd approximately $60,000

2) 700 Wello water wheels, which enable poor farm women to roll barrels full of water from river to farm by means of a lawn mower like handle attached to them are being shipped from Mumbai (they are made nearby) to Dar Es Salaam and thence to Mtunthama.  This will make the lives of local farm women so much easier because they won’t have to carry water filled containers on their backs anymore. (see the Wello water wheel website for further details).  Peter wanted us to purchase the 40 foot shipping container as well for storage, office, and possible hydroponic use, and we did that.  Total cost will be approximately $29,300 (approximate because we don’t have import duty amount yet).  They should arrive by mid Sept if all goes well.

3) 6,000 bamboo plants will be imported from Zambia at the end of August for donation to farmers at a cost of $15,000.  This is in addition to the 4200 bamboo plants we have already given away grown from seeds purchased last year.  The bamboo provides an excellent source of charcoal and animal fodder and thus will help combat deforestation.

4) Peter is in the process of planting 200,000 tree saplings at a cost of $6500.  This will add to the over 70,000 trees which have survived from prior years of our reforestation.

5) We are in the process of giving away 300 more chickens (in addition to the 175 chickens we have already given away) as part of our other current pass-on program (the dairy project is one as well) at cost of $1650.

6) We have now drilled 3 new boreholes (wells) in different villages, including Chambwavi, where our the now completed secondary school girl’s hostel/dorm is located  and hopes to drill 3 more this year (using money already allocated last year)

7) Our Land Lease (help to poor farmers), Micro-credit Bank, Free Care Fund (to help defray medical expenses), IT teaching, and Medication Donation projects are also continuing and making wonderful progress at an annual cost of about $18,000.

8) A hydroponic/aquaponic demonstration project (or 2) and 2 small solar powered milk chillers (refrigerators) for local farmers are also in the works. Cost $12,000

All pretty cool, huh?  So when you’re feeling completely overwhelmed by COVID and economic downturns and racism, and Donald Trump, at least, I hope, I can brighten up your day a little.

Do we really have all the money for the above?  Well, between Cindy and me, Doug Williams, Don Hangen, and many other generous donors, we’re close to what we need.  But could use another $5,000 or so to be sure. 

As part of our fundraising, we are offering for sale commemorative Bridges to Malawi coins designed by Sue Fitzgerald, NP at $25 apiece if you pick it up at my house, 7 Curley Drive, Hudson, MA and $30 apiece if you want me to mail one to you. They are really cool!

Hope you are all well and staying safe.  My we all be vaccinated and fully employed and back in school and racially and economically just soon! 

All our best to all of you and thanks so much for all you past, present, and future help and participation in our worthy cause.