May 21, 2020

Just finished skyping with Peter Minjale.  We provided over $8,000 to help him prevent and combat COVID19.  New measures have included the purchase of masks and PPE for healthcare providers and masks for patients when they are being seen in St. Andrews Hospital and K2TASO clinic.  In addition Peter and his colleagues have been establishing hand washing stations in many villages and conducting educational workshops on the virus both for healthcare providers and villagers. As of today Malawi reports only 71 cases and 3 deaths.  Peter says they can test and he has not yet, thank God, seen anyone with the disease.  Some experts are saying that countries like Malawi, which have a very low proportion of people over 20, may do better than countries such as ours.

Peter also informs me that in the 10 or so villages we have provided Artemisia to there is almost no malaria!  This includes the village of Makanda, where we did our first IRS treatment all those years ago.  So the preventive tea made for the plant does work!  Unfortunately, malaria is still quite common in the villages where Artemisia has not yet been made available.  We hope to provide another 1500 plants this year.

Peter also sent me pictures of eggs (see agriculture section for pictures)  from donated chickens and told me he plans to buy 200 more chickens for our pass-on program in the next week or so.  He says we have so far helped provide extra income and protein for 35 families (approximately 245 people). Now we’ll be able to help 40-50 more families.

Peter also sent me pictures of Land Lease beneficiaries holding watermelons they grew from seed brought by us from the US (see pictures in the agriculture section).  Peter says one farmer got 9 watermelons off a single plan, averaging 12-17 kgs per melon(26- lbs).  He says that no one else is growing watermelons in the Kasungu East District besides our beneficiaries, but there is a great market and farmers can sell these for about $3-$4 apiece.  This is just one crop and one example of how we’re helping these poorest of the poor farmers.

Finally, the biggest news!  As we speak, we are in the process of purchasing 30 dairy heifers (mostly Holsteins) in Southern Malawi for our dairy project.  The Malawi Ministry of Agriculture is very excited about our initiative and is assisting us with the cow transport.  We hope to have the heifers transported to to our farm at Kasikidzi over the weekend.  Our staff will take all necessary precautions to avoid getting or bringing COVID19 to Mtunthama. In the next few months we will have finished constructing facilities for processing the milk (minus refrigeration, yogurt making, and pasteurizing , which we hope to donate in about 9 months, if we can raise enough money to do so (it’ll cost about $60,000 altogether).  The milk will provide protein and income for many farm families. (see pictures in agriculture)