October 2019

Dear Friends of Bridges to Malawi,

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer. Thought I’d bring you up to date on our Bridges to Malawi trip in April, the current status of our programs, and a special need for funding some new projects. I also wanted to be sure that you are all aware that we are proudly sponsoring a benefit concert featuring Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul, and Mary, on Saturday Nov 9, 2019 at the Hudson Portuguese Club. General admission tickets are $40 apiece. Please visit our website for further information and to buy tickets.

We were able to make over $3,000 from our LSO concert, so thanks to all who helped and all who attended!

So the new projects:

We need $5,000 USD to construct another “Cindy’s House,” which will serve as a storage facility for grain to be distributed when the next drought induced famine occurs. I hope you have all had a chance to read and/or watch the movie, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” The lethal recurrent famines of Malawi are well portrayed in both. We at BTM cannot prevent a drought, but we can and must take as many measures as possible to mitigate the effects of all the famines to come. To this end we are stockpiling grain in the first “Cindy’s House,” built by us a few years ago, and we would like to build several more similar storage facilities around Kasungu East.

The 2nd new project requires $1,000 to provide solar (and/or wind power) to electrify a secondary school girls’ dormitory we have just constructed in the village of Chambwavi. This will provide electric lighting so that the girls can easily study at night.

Finally, as some of you know, we are starting a dairy cooperative initiative with a demonstration farm and processing system for pasteurizing and chilling milk while it awaits transport to market. The plan includes a yogurt maker and there are ultimate plans to make cheese and ice cream. There is a growing market for all these things in the nearby city of Kasungu and throughout the Kasungu District according to the government economists we are working with. Through this project we hope to improve per capita income from $250 to $325 for hundreds of people by providing economic opportunities that currently don’t exist in the area as well as increased nutrition to thousands by making milk more affordable and available. My wife Cindy and I have already given/pledged $60,000 this year and a at least another $30,000 for next year towards this multi-year project, which will ultimately require about $160,000 for completion. We don’t expect any of you to come up with all the remaining cash, but it would be wonderful if you helped us buy part of our 30 cow dairy herd ($525 a cow), or part of the yogurt processor (total cost ($16,000), or the milk chiller (total cost $7,500).

As to our ongoing projects, let me start by saying that our annual medical mission trip is April 2019 was a great success. We took a record number of people with us this year, including 12 high school students from Hudson, Marlborough, and Nashoba Regional High Schools. Our indefatigable group worked at Kasungu District Hospital, St. Andrews Hospital, the K2TASO clinic, and at secondary schools where solar power and laptops were donated. Among other things we did was to donate 3 hand-held devices called Butterfly IQ’s, which turn an iPhone into an ultrasound imaging machine. They are extraordinary and, by ultrasound standards, very cheap. The total cost for each Butterfly IQ and iPhone was $1,000 apiece, and we would like to raise the money to donate 1 more in 2020.

On other fronts, our malaria suppression project is proving successful. Hundreds of farmers were given Artemisia annua plants and have been making anti-malarial tea from the leaves. According to our Malawian partners, there has been a significant reduction in  malaria rates in those villages where the tea is being consumed. Wonderful news! Artemisia is an annual plant, but the propagation can be done via cuttings, and we have done so. However, we will need to purchase more plants soon to help spread the area protected from malaria. Plants are $1.50 apiece. Please consider a donation of $450 to help us buy at least 300 more of these life-saving plants.

Our bamboo is sprouting! In 3 years the farmers can start harvesting it to make charcoal, feed their animals, and use it for fencing and roofing. They will be able to do this for the next 30 years. This will keep them from deforesting and thus help fight global warming.

This year we have given away over 210 chickens (there are over 500 chickens now as a result of breeding) and hope to give away 250 more. The chicks cost about $2.00 apiece. A donation of $500 to get us there would be awesome! Thanks so much!