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.