Christmas Letter 2017
We are now in our 13th year in Malawi and still making a little contribution, thanks to the support we get from caring people everywhere. Every year has shown a few new dots joined, even though our spend stays about the same per year, but the price of cement increasing by 50% in the past month won’t help.
are our main focus and our target was to manufacture and install 500 for the year. If we don’t make it, we won’t be far away from giving clean safe drinking water to 150,000 who never had it before. Now when someone pays for a pump we send the pictures, the Google Earth map and all details to each donor.
The Girl Child Project
this year, supports 255 girls in Secondary School. Last year 4 of our girls qualified for University, Nursing and Teaching, but without fees they can’t go. But who knows, God is good and we may be able to add to the three already supported by three wonderful donors: in NRC for Horticulture (Boyd), Nursing in St John’s Hospital (Cecilia) and Bunda College for Agriculture (Monica). More importantly none were married off and only one pregnancy.
We have introduced a new Post Secondary School programme in Horticulture for girls who are learning to grow food to be able to feed themselves and their families later. We had a very successful campaign for Knickers earlier and got over 1000 sets from all over the World and are well into a project for making reusable sanitary pads, lack of which is a serious issue where girls miss so much time in school. Finally, we added a vital element and most successful counselling service, with the help of St John of God, College of Health Sciences. Maybe the most significant development came recently when the Head of Social Services promised to assist us with a Social Worker and balls for games.
To have a Malawi Government Agency, helping a tiny organization like ours, where Irish Aid, don’t even recognize our existence, is really something special. It is thanks to the amazing Malawian women who work for us.
are another area of expansion where we support about 60 rural women’s groups with workshops and starter packs for feeding the children. Working closely with Social Welfare we have managed to get financial support for caregivers in many schools, which again is a unique arrangement and thanks to another creative team of women. They take little ones from 3 to 6. They encourage them to transfer to primary school, and most now do. Initially the schools are just anywhere in any type of building, but as time goes by they construct a building and we supply iron sheets. Simple, cost effective and altogether amazing.
Our Irrigation Pump
is the simplest of technology to take water from a well 20 meters deep and pump it 10 meters up to a tank or over long distances. Really simple, unique and appropriate technology, which we swap, in villages, for a bag of maize.
just rolls along, producing 43,000 seedlings fruit trees this year, lots of research, enough food to feed the girls at Saturday school, all without a hint of imported fertilizer or noxious pesticides, using open pollinated seeds and various mixes of herbs with other plants and systems to deter the pests. These fully organic, sustainable systems we use are inexpensive as we get all our nitrogen from nitrogen fixing plants, which makes growing food really inexpensive, directed at the poorest.
If we lose the farm to an airport, we now have a plan B, maybe “its an ill wind…”
is this year’s new development, we decided that as millions of trees have been cut down to benefit the rich and forestry decimated, it provided a business opportunity for even the poorest. The whole world of Aid are out there, all over Malawi, holding conferences, spinning around in super jeeps, sensitizing people using specially designed, meaningless jargon.
My approach is “why should Malawians be expected to Save the Planet, Stop Global Warming, and generally save our asses, when they caused none of this?” The logical, West of Ireland approach is that there’s money in growing trees, because there is a market everywhere in the region. The idea has gone down a treat and everywhere we go, people want seeds and training. Our partnership with our friend and new Bishop of Mzuzu, John Ryan, and the 1.7 million people in the diocese has the possibility to deliver millions of trees over the next few years and move so many away from their subsistence existence, barely clinging to the edge of humanity.
On the home front
Éamonn, Amy, Max and Jack will arrive from Edinburgh on Dec 21. Ciarán, Melissa Róisín and Cáitlín are here already here after Brexiting London, with Ciarán awaiting his green card, to head to Tennessee. Eithne and Claudamere are here awaiting their wedding in July, while Caitríona, Noli and Tino, will arrive from 10 minutes out the road to celebrate Christmas Day with us. John, Noo, Ety and Mia may travel the 40 minutes from Ballyknockan to join in the festivities, depending on circumstances. The table for 20 will be set and ready, with a place available for Br Samuel from Malawi, if he doesn’t get a better offer.
May God be with you this Christmas and always.
John and Mary