November 13, 2019

Peter and Jacqueline Minjale just left the US for home after their first trip here ever.  They landed in DC on Oct 5 and got a tour of the US including DC, Boston, a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Niagara Falls, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, part of the Navajo Reservation, Tucson, San Francisco, and Yosemite.  They shadowed me at work in my emergency department to see the difference between US and Malawi medicine. They gave fundraising talks to several groups while here, and also went to the Peter Yarrow concert.  We constantly talked about Bridges to Malawi and how much we have accomplished (see below) and what our plans should be for 2020.  They enjoyed their trip immensely and were very impressed with many things about our country, but especially with how well we care for our environment when compared to their country.  We miss them very much already.

BTM Accomplishments:

Goat Pass-On Program:  We donated 526 goats total between 2014 and 2018 when we stopped because we had maxed out the need for goats in our area.  As of now, 3,126 farm families representing approximately 21,882 people have 15,630 goats altogether.  FYI, the average goat yields approximately 10 times its body weight in  milk in a year, providing almost 1 ton of protein for its family, as well as manure and ultimately meat and hides.  And income to pay for high school education.

Land Lease Program: 4200 (640 farm families) have benefited from our program, and over 75% have been able to buy their own land as a result.  More than 94% have graduated from the program because they don’t need our assistance anymore.

Micro-Credit Loan Program: 670 individual farm families (representing 4690 people) have benefited from a loan of up to a maximum of $25.  Our payback rate is 98%, and most loans are paid back within 3 months.  This program has enabled countless impoverished children to attend secondary school, a heretofore unattainable goal.

Cows and Ploughs Program:  Our initially purchased herd of 24 cows has now increased to 39. These cows and plows are shared amongst the farmers of 5 different villages, benefiting thousands of people. Beneficiary farmers can now plow 5 acres in a day when it once took them 5-6 weeks to cultivate this much land by hand with a hoe. We have now provided 3 Magoye Rippers (conservation agriculture plows that plow a straight line rather than a wide furrow, thus preserving topsoil health) and the farmers using them have noticed a significant improvement in crop production. We plan to buy at least 2 more Magoye Rippers in 2020.

Chicken Pass-On Program:  We have donated chickens to 35 households thus far, benefiting approximately 245 people.  We began this program in 2018 and are ramping it up to benefit over a thousand people this year.

Reforestation Project: We planted a total of 70,000 trees between 2017 and 2018; 38,000 have survived, which is higher than the usual rate for such efforts. We hope to have planted an additional 80,000 trees this year.

Bamboo: 3400 of the 5800 seeds we planted have germinated and are currently being planted in an effort to combat deforestation while providing fodder, construction material, and economic opportunity to beneficiaries in addition to fuel.

Artemisia/Malaria Prevention:  Over 300 households received plants and are drinking the tea with a consequent reduction in malaria rates in the villages where we’ve done this.  We plan to ramp up this program in 2020

Laptops/Solar Power:  We have donated laptops to a total of 8 high schools (64 computers in all) and have solar powered 7 schools, benefiting over 800 students so far. We will continue to donate more in 2020.

Chamwabvi Secondary School Girls’ Dorm:  The old dilapidated girls’ dorm at this secondary school was levelled and replaced by a building partially constructed by our team during the April mission trip.  The roof is now on the structure and finishing work is in process.  We will be painting it in 2020 as part of next year’s mission trip.

Ergo Secondary School  Mattress Donation:  The 80 girls sleeping at the dorm in Ergo were sleeping on the floor or on the metal bedsprings of their beds; no mattresses were available.  So we donated 60 mattresses and 20 more were donated by the Mooncatcher project, so the girls can now get a decent night’s sleep.  We have heard that their grades are already better!