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Change a life!
Educate a Child

Like to become part of TAFA or learn more of how you can make a difference? - email me - Barry - "touchandfeelafrica (at)"

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - IT'S BACK TO CLASS, AND THE END OF SCHOOL FOR OTHERS. TAFA is please to announce that Steve Harawa has completed nursing school, Tusa Kanyika, has been chosen as class president for his graduation class, Monica Nkhayange continues her studies in accounting at GLECS, Richard Mtambo is continuing his studies at University of Malawi, Polytech in Blantyre, Chisomo Banda will be returning to University in Mzuzu in Engineering, Jacco Mhone passed all his ABE Business exams, and Gracious Mwandwanga has more than doubled his sausage production in his business in Karonga.

TAFA is also happy to announce that we have successfully completed the shipment of 3 packages of lights, batteries, some phones, many DVDs and other items through our post office box in Mbeya, Tanzania, and with Elia's help delivered to Jacco in Chitipa, Malawi.

Seems TAFA has changed much over the last 12 months. A couple of years ago, it would have been just an "impossible" dream to believe there would be so many TAFAians in College and University. All I can say it has taken unbelievable persistence on everyone's part.

Steve Harawa has done well with his final exams in Nursing from St Johns Hospital in Mzuzu. He will be writing his Government Certification Exams in about a month. There is now 1 huge challenge... the Government of Malawi has not hired any new nurses in over a year. Financial challenges continue to beset the Government. Steve is working on seeing how he might use his nursing background in other fields.

Tusa Kanyika continues to make us all proud. In his graduating year at Kunyanja Private School, in Nkhata Bay. He continues to be one of the top students, is "Head Boy" and now going to fill the role of Class Graduating President. We wish Tusa well. Huge challenges are part of his life, and living with just your Grandmother and trying to provide the necessities of life is often even inconceivable for me.

Monica continues to be a top student at GLECS College of Business Sciences. Her exams fees have just been paid so she can advance in her career in accounting and follow her goal of using her accounting background in agriculture.

Richard, also nicknamed the "professor" while a student at Nkhata Bay Secondary School continues to make us proud at TAFA. As an engineering student at Polytech, he scored over 91% in his last math exam, and was the top performer in the exam. We wish him continued success in his studies.

Chisomo Banda, the "boy" who always amazes me! Not often does a student say to me, "Mr. Barry, I have earned enough to pay my school fees for University, I will only need a bit of pocket money". You are truly amazing Chisomo, and your extremely focused work welding and fabricating, as well as additional work has certainly paid off. We are looking forward to your continued success as you return to your Engineering classes.

"Mr" Jacco continues his journey and dedicated work both as a Manager selling eggs in Chitipa and working as the TAFA "Boss", ensuring school fees are paid and all the TAFA projects continue. And congratulations for doing so well on your ABE exams!

Last week, Elia Mwasile, a university student in Mbeya, Tanzania and the only Tanzanian TAFAian to date, travelled with all the shipments of lights, batteries, phones DVDs and other things to sell to meet Jacco at the Malawian border. Together they travelled to Chitipa, where Elia was able to enjoy and experience Malawian life for the first time and Jacco's great Malawian chicken suppers. TAFA was truly excited that we have been successful in our quest to be able to ship packages to Malawi and have them arrive at a much lower cost than DHL or Fedex. This has been a huge challenge and we truly thank Elia for his help.

Elia and Jacco

Gracious continues to expand his sausage business, with accounts now all the way to the Tanzanian boarder. He has gone from production of his sausages on a monthly basis, now to weekly production. More to come on his business shortly.



Jacob (Jacco "the Boss") Mhone

Jacco joined TAFA in 2012 as an "orphan student wanting to go to college". The impossible happened in 2013 when Jacco was able to enroll in GLECS College of Management Sciences to study business. Jacco excelled at his studies and last year was teaching business classes at GLECS. He became the "Project Manager" for TAFA over 2 years ago, and now he has taken on the position of "The TAFA Boss". Everything that TAFA does in Malawi is now monitored and maintained by Jacco. This includes school fees, monitoring students, dealing with health issues of students and their families, monitoring the student businesses, and keeping a watchful eye over everything - a huge undertaking.

Jacco also maintains the TAFA bank account, does the accounting and is responsible for the "TAFA Weekly Spender" which is compiled and sent to the TAFA office in Vancouver on a weekly basis, (if there is electricity and/or internet :))

Without Jacco's complete attention to everything and his unquestionable loyalty and honesty to TAFA and his TAFA brothers and sisters, TAFA would truly be at a loss.

So be sure, if you are one of the people, student, school, donor, or you are associated with TAFA, please be sure to THANK Jacco. He can be found on Facebook as "Jacco Slim Wacko"

with great thanks!

Students Helping Students



Angus Tse


Isabela (Bela) Corpus

THE UBC ROTARACT CLUB with members Angus and Isabela are working to collect used cell phones on the UBC campus. These phones are invaluable to TAFA and the students in Malawi. Without access to text communication through Facebook and Whatsapp, it is nearly impossible for TAFA to support students for their school funding or helping with startup businesses. We thank Angus and Bela so much for all the work they are doing to make this work.


Trisha Cherian

I am a first-year student who is currently studying at the University of British Columbia in the faculty of Arts. A major goal of mine is to develop my leadership skills and work ethic in order to become an entrepreneur. I am also very passionate about community service and helping with the improvement of certain lives in any way possible. This is one of the main reasons why I am contributing to the “Touch And Feel Africa” project; because I know that I am making some sort of impact on the lives of those who I am currently helping in Malawi (Richard Mtambo and Monica Nkhayange) and I receive a rewarding feeling from doing so. I definitely plan on continuing with my contribution to TAFA in the future.

Richard Mtambo is an Engineering Student at Polytechnic, Blantyre
Monica Nkhayange is an Accounting Student at GLECS College of Management Sciences, Mzuzu


I thought this was truly wonderful and so Malawian...
A flag of peace - not many countries and people of the world
see their flag in this way...

A three equal horizontal stripes flag
Flying with authority at angles of point
Special identity over the world
Shines with wonderful colours day and night

Epicenter of Nyasaland history
Sun,a new dawn of freedom
Black, predominantly black Malawians
Red, blood of heroes struggled for Independence Green,
indeed our evergreen homeland

Spitting unity and freedom showers
Of bringing peace and love among citizens
That never covered like air O flag of peace!

Ephraim Matembo
- a new TAFAian, currently residing in Karonga



Thursday, 21 January 2016 - So very happy to announce that Monica Nkhayange will be attending GLECS College of Business Sciences in Mzuzu, beginning on Monday.

Monica Nkhayange

Monica as been a TAFAian for the last few years and consistently one of the top students at Bandawe Girls School. We are proud of you Monica! I am looking forward to you keeping TAFA's books after you graduate in accounting. TAFA would also like to thank Sri for his continued support of Monica and her schooling over the last years.

Saturday, 2 January 2016 - TAFA is entering the new year with some wonderful events coming up.

  • Steve Harawa, will be graduating from St John's after more than 2 years in Nurses Training. He just got his exam marks and continues to do very well.
  • Tusa Kanyika, continues to do well at Kunyanja Private and as HeadBoy, will be graduating this year.
  • Jacco Mhone, TAFA Project Manager, finished his business schooling at GLEC's and is managing a store in Chitipa, while still running TAFA affairs.
  • Chisomo Banda excelled at college in his term at Engineering School, scoring over 90% in the practical.
  • Richard Mtambo is preparing to enter University at PolyTech and also take engineering.
  • The rabbits continue to get pregnant.
  • Gracious Mwandsanga not only finished the courses he was taking in Lilongwe, but has now got his sausage business licensed.
  • Isaac Bichoza is returning to Bandawe.
  • I am continuing to work on education related projects with the African students at UBC. This project may I hope, become truly one of my lifetime achievements. Can't say more right now until we finalize a few more things.
  • Working hard right now with the other TAFA students to get them enrolled in the January term. More about these students as they get registered and confirmed at school.



To create, operate and maintain small businesses, funding school and college fees and creating an environment where students can learn business and have an income both while attending school and after they graduate.



  • Rice plots in the Nkhata Bay area
  • Maize and soybeans in the Karonga area
  • Used telephone sales/computer accessories, Northern and Central Malawi
  • Rabbit farms in the Nkhata Bay area
  • Sausage production business in Karonga
  • Food vendor cart in Karonga
  • Leg prosthesis and knee replacement, a project with D-Rev in California,
    the Rotary Club and
    Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre
  • Used clothing business in Nkhata Bay/Mzuzu
  • * “Chased House” a refuge house for LGBT youth who are homeless
    in the Lilongwe area
  • * In conjunction with “Chased House”, a home for those without legs,
    begging in the streets
  • * Painting/Closet accessories business, Lilongwe
  • * Shoe Store/repair facility in partnership with Roy’s Shoes (Kelowna)
    and the Rotary Club
  • * Supocho Computer & Learning Centre, on going restructuring for Internet Access & Classes


  • *businesses in the planning stages as of 18 November 2015



TAFA is currently partnered with GLECS College of Management Sciences in Mzuzu, Malawi.  In exchange for computers and other equipment, GLECS along with TAFA are providing scholarship funding for business students.  GLECS also provides business analysis and business plan development to help many of our projects.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

I am truly excited to be attending the African Business Forum at the University of British Columbia, Friday evening thru Sunday afternoon. Hoping to learn much, appreciate how others see creating and operating businesses in Africa, and meeting some truly wonderful people. And sharing some ideas.


Friday 23 August 2015 - Tuesday 6 October - I am back at home. Some students back at school, rabbits being rabbits, some students selling clothes,


A huge problem in Malawi - corruption at all levels
making everything you do risky and tedious

I have experienced waiting in a court room for a judge to arrive,
over 2 hours late, witnesses and doctors waiting to give testimony
and the judge does not even apologize. Truly a lost country.

Steve Harawa in his operating room scrubs.... graduating at the end of this term!
so proud of you Steve, it's not been easy and you have overcome all the challenges.

My great friend and host, Max Mbise at their home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Thanks to you I had a great place to stay and was looked after so well.


Max's daughter at their home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Max's son at their home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Escaping the broken down bus, on my travels from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam. As I wrote that day in my texts...
"Such a day, 18 hours.... The bus broke down. Had to ride in the back of a truck, then private car, then in dala dala. At the end, on a motorcycle.
Was like the amazing race.
Am so so tired, but safe and crawling into bed at Maxies"


There was no repair for the bus, as the coolant and oil ran down the highway
from the bus. Seemed like the last trip and journey on way back to South Africa...

Our truly excellent home in Mbeya, Tanzania! In both directions. The Moravian Church is most interesting... the first "Protestant" Church in the world, having accomplished that about 50 years before Martin Luther.

Gracious, as we check out the interesting "3 wheeler trucks" in Mbeya, Tanzania.
If I had a bit of cash, I would have bought one and had Gracious take it back to Malawi. I think it would be a great revenue maker.

Innovation from India....

and more innovation from India

The clothes washing tub, excellent place to spend your hot days in Karonga

Gracious and his mother, holding a tribal village plan from the Musqueam First Nations near Vancouver, Canada

Gracious, after climbing to the top after another big challenge....

Gracious, the unstoppable businessman


Kids play in Lake Malawi off the beach
in Karonga


Chrispin Gogoda, visiting London while working on his Masters degree
in the UK


Love Gogoda and Madalitso, waiting for dad to return from the UK


Chisomo Banda, TAFA engineering student in Mzuzu.
Accomplishing the "impossible".....


Sydney Simumba, the head teacher and one of the founders of Kunyanja Private
Secondary School, in Nkhata Bay. Amazing Sydney... you have all the computers
donated to the school on my trip in 2011. They are all working and the students of
Kunyanja continue their computer training.


Chisomo and the kids at Mkondezi on the brick pile


The completed TAFA rabbit house at the Gama's at Mkondezi Village


Mr Barry working hard, while his boss Kondwani Gama looks on


Kondwani Gama working on the TAFA rabbit house at Lutengano's
at Mkondezi Village

Kondwani, the great brick layer


Home never looked so good for these rabbits


Mary Nyirenda, TAFA "Mum" and head teacher at Mkondezi Primary School.
Without Mary... TAFA would likely have not been "born"
and without her dedicated work, administering school fees,
and working with the students, many would never have gone to school,
or graduated as they have to date. Thank you Mary!


Winter, an aspiring TAFAian, hoping to get his school fees.
His dream is to become a doctor and I truly believe he can do it.
Unfortunately, TAFA did not have enough money to help him this term.


Duncan, staying with Mary and attending Mkondezi Primary


TAFAian student Thomas - wanting to learn truck driving in Mzuzu

Stomach/ulcer medication we found in Tanzania which
has greatly helped some TAFA students

Kennedy, writing out his plans for school. He is also in need of
medical care for painful and chronic stomach and intestinal problems.


"Dr" Mwamlima who has been helping some of the TAFAians with their
medical needs.


A meeting with Mr Gama and the police when it was discovered
that some TAFA funds had gone missing.


Our next project: building crutches in Nkhata Bay to help those
with leg disabilities in Lilongwe and Blantyre

TAFA student Victor's mother Isabel, as head clinician for the HIV clinic at
Likuni Hospital, dispensing HIV drugs late into the evening.


Lukuni Hospital in Lilongwe. Home to Isabel Chimbiri
am my home while I was staying in Lilongwe


TAFA has begun the planning of a project to help those on the streets,
with crutches and limbs, furthering our project with D-Rev and their knees


We are working on getting Chimeme crutches....
and hopefully in the next year, a new leg so he can walk.


My great friend and host, Max Mbise at their home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Thanks to you I had a great place to stay and was looked after so well.


Chimweme's hand, badly deformed from having to use just a pole
to be able to walk


Chimeme Mlambalika


Aniz, in Lilongwe, partner in our plan to help support LGBT youth,
who have been "chased" from their homes

A "chased" boy, too dangerous for him show his identity


A "chased" boy, too dangerous for him show his identity


Ishmael, on a plane to an LGBT conference,
always advocating and supporting those with the
challenges of Malawian "society attitudes"


Speed!! Malawians are a bit crazy about speed in their vehicles.
When I complained to the bus driver that 140 kph was was too fast....
he pulled over and told me to "get out!"
Needless to say, with the support of the other passengers on the bus,
we prevailed and the bus took a slightly slower journey to LIlongwe.


TAFAian Robson at his sister's house in Blantyre
They were our hosts for Joe and myself when we went to
Queen Elizabeth Hospital to begin construction of Joe's new leg.


TAFAian and graduate of Nkhata Bay Secondary
Robson Theu


A change from the village poverty in Malawi


A change from the village poverty in Malawi


A change from the village poverty in Malawi


Dr. Agnes Chimburi at her home in Lilongwe


Sitting at the Wildlife Sanctuary in Lilongwe


Pido Kalipa, TAFAian business graduate student in Lilongwe


Rodrick Banda and Robson Theu, patiently waiting as Joe's gets attention
at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for his new leg


Taking measurements and making a mold to construct a new leg for
Joe using the D-Rev knee


Joe's "old" leg


Joe Mandhlopa and Dr Robster Nyirenda at Queen Elizabeth Hospital


Working on the new leg at Queen Elizabeth Hospital


Joe being patient at Queen Elizabeth Hospital


Joe at Queen Elizabeth Hospital


Rotarian luncheon meeting in Lilongwe. As guests, Joe
and I made a presentation to partner for the supply of additional knees
from D-Rev for Queen Elizabeth Hospital

David Sichalli in Mzuzu, selecting clothes for his new TAFA sponsored business


Isaac Phiri with his TAFA supplied camera, so he may
enlarge his photo taking business


Saturday 1 August - Thursday 22 August 2015 - Arrived in Malawi, to some surprises at the border, learning the sausage business with Gracious in Karonga, off to Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay to my "Malawian home" with Mary Nyirenda at Mkondezi Village. Assessing the rice and maize projects, selling phones and flashdrives, off to visit Alfred (very likely the poorest boy I have ever seen in the world). Finding rabbits and building a rabbit farm, and even off to beautiful Chikale beach for an afternoon.

Christopher Mbale, teacher at Mkondezi School and his woodworking shop building school desks. Sorting out today why they school has not received its tools for school classes from CIDA (the Canadian Government) as a project through the University of Regina

Mary's new toilet seat and cover

Christopher Mbale doing the fine tuning on Mary's new toilet seat

Malawi, even riding a bike is a "big" challenge

Isaac Bichoza, TAFA student getting prepared to go back to boarding school in NkhotaKota

Lutengano, feeling good after the rabbit house is completed

Lutengano and Kondwani working on the rabbit house

Laying out the "rooms" in the rabbit house

Symon at the wonderful Chikale Beach at Nkhata Bay

"Downtown" Nkhata Bay, Malawi

The deep freeze for Gracious and his AXE Sausage Company and his juice and food cart, finally purchased and in place. The only problem was "no electricity". This has been an ongoing frustration as the power comes and goes, from day to day.

The "prep" counter for Gracious and his drinks and food

Gracious and I, feeling so good that we finally got the food and drink cart operational

Gracious and his family and some friends

Gracious and his mum

The cart and it's first coat of paint

Gracious buying the deep freeze in Karonga

Gracious ironing clothes, the "low tech" way with hot coals in the iron

The cart as it is built


The "beginnings" of the cart

Experimenting with juices, foods and sauces

Jacco and Alfred, when we visit Alfred and his family near Kasungu

Alfred's family home in Kasungu where we grew the 1.5 hectares of rice

Finding rabbits for our rabbit farm


Monica, a TAFA student at Bandawe Girl's School. One of the top students, graduated this year. Monica, like Alfred, is not just "Malawian poor" but truly has nothing. My visit with her and her uncle will never be forgotten

Testing the drinks and sausage/egg sandwiches for supper

The Axe Sausage and Juice company "testing facility" in Karonga



Tuesday 2 July 2015 - Friday 31 July 2015 - Arrived in Dar es Salaam, greeting by my friend Maxie and his wife - Jacco, the TAFA Project Manager joins us from Malawi - Jacco and I travel to Zanzibar to visit my friend Ali and his wife, exploring the amazing and beautiful island, then off to Mbeya, Tanzania to be met by Gracious, a graduate TAFA student who has started his sausage business in Karonga, Malawi. Then to Mzuzu, and "home" at Mkondezi Village near Nkhata Bay and our "TAFA Mum" Mary.


The skyline of "Dar", much changed from 5 years ago when I was last here. And home to some of the worst traffic jams I have experienced in the world.

A classic Dhow on our way from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar

Once the Sultan's home in Zanzibar


Ali and his son Hussein in Zanzibar

Jacco celebrating the impressive beach and his first encounter with salt water

Almost at the equator....

Our supper at Ali's during Ramadan and eaten after sunset

It rained a bit...

Ali's wife and Hussein

The neighourhood after the rain

Poolside at the hotel Ali is a manger

a classic boat, just beyond the beach

The amazing dining experience at the beach in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Most incredible for me, totally unfathomable if you are from Malawi??

The "chef"s

Games in the doorway

Jacco relaxing in his room at Ali's

Cooking at the Guesthouse where Jacco, Gracious stayed while in Mbeya, Tanzania

The "Chinese" bus we travelled with from Dar to Mbeya

Gracious shopping for his blender in Mbeya, Tanzania

Jacco and Gracious pricing used clothing bundles from the Tanzanian wholesaler

Breakfast and a morning business meeting at the guesthouse

Gracious, getting ready to ride "round" the border, to get back home to Malawi

The home of Gracious, his mother, and two sisters in Karonga, Malawi

Drink experiments at Gracious's house in Karonga... they are sure great fruit smoothies. Orange, papaya, banana and now Gracious tells me with some pineapple. Test marketing to begin soon.

The neighbourhood around Gracious's home

Grinding the meat to make sausages. Probably the highest quality beef I have ever seen as sausage meat, right from the leg, with very little fat.

The beef arriving at the butchers...

The butchers where Gracious creates his sausages


Testing an "Axe Sausage & Egg Sandwich" and "Axe Fruit Smoothy" drink for supper

Mary and Symon, on our visit to the Zayed Solar School in Chinthetche, Malawi

The classroom at the solar school, founded by Gail Swithenbank

The solar battery supply at the school

The first get together of the "senior" TAFAians to discuss future plans or TAFA held on Sunday, 26 July. We talked about TAFAian ideals and how we might create and move forward on the projects.

Mary and her students at Mkondezi Primary creating the school garden garden

MacDonald at the new computers TAFA helped find for GLEC's Business School in Mzuzu

Mary and Enna carrying water to her home at Mkondezi. Yes, no running water or electricity.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 - With grateful thanks to the SAGE Foundation, in partnering for this Saturday's event:

Africando Livre et Art Soiree

SAGE Foundation
Africando Livre et Art Soiree
May 23, 2015


2pm-2:30pm (30 min)            
Registration - Meet and Greet

2:30pm-2:45pm (15 min)                   
Welcome and Introduction SAGE Foundation - Deidré Heim
Welcome and Introduction Bill Reid Gallery - Sharon

                              Awards and Presentations

2:45pm-3:00pm (15 min)                   
S.S. Segran - Author, Aegis Rising / Aegis Incursions

3:00pm-3:15pm (15 min)                   
Yared Nigussu – Paint Artist

3:15pm-3:30pm (15 min)                   
Marika Siewert - Pop/Gospel Music Artist

3:30pm-4:00pm (30 min)                   
Tecla Tawonezvi - Author, Diary of My Pilgrimage of Faith

4:00pm-4:10pm (10 min)                   
Jabulile Maju Dladla Niemann – Gospel/Soul Music Artist

4:10pm-4:30pm (20 min)                   
Barry Thorsness - Touch And Feel Africa (TAFA)
4:30pm-4:50pm (20 min)                   
Sarah K – RnB/Soul Music Artist

4:50pm-5:00pm (10 min)                   
Closing Address - Honoré Gbedze
Final Remarks / Song

5:00pm-6:00pm (1 hour)                   
Book, Music, Art Signing, Sales, Donations, Refreshments, Gallery Tour, Mix and Mingle

Wednesday, 1 April 2015 - Gracious... so proud of you! Gracious has been working to create and operate his sausage business, since his graduation from Secondary School in June - with extraordinary perseverance.... Jacco, TAFA's project manager along with Mr Gama, who is looking after our rice plots, and Alfred who is running the maize project are all happy to announce the rain, the sunshine and all their hard work has resulted in some very good crops. Mary Nyirenda, our TAFA "MUM" is home from the hospital after being hospitalized for malaria and the students are finished exams and home for Easter Holidays.

When Gracious kept phoning me in the middle of the night 4 years ago, and insisting I should help him with school fees, I would have never dreamed where this would go. He has had 4 years of great challenges with his living and family situations and has managed not only to graduate but begin a business that is actually processing and selling orders. TAFA is partnering with Gracious in his endeavour. The first step was to ask Rusk, the head teacher at GLEC's Business School to volunteer and help Gracious with a business plan and spreadsheet projection for his business. They also worked on basic bookkeeping, bank deposits and marketing. I received the plan last week and was astonished at its content and thoroughness. Thank you Rusk!



TAFA would like to thank Joseph Reid for his generous contribution towards helping with Gracious's sausage business. I met Joe at the Mbeya train station when we where all traveling to Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar. Joe has helped us often with school fees for the students.

TAFA Invites you to participate
at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada

Redefining International Aid
| MARCH 31, 2015

Being mindful of unique locational issues is key for international aid to be sustainable. Re-igniting otherwise stagnant economies by working in partnership with local communities and local actors as opposed to traditional aid models are the future. Join us for an in-depth discussion on international aid with the director of TAFA Malawi, Barry Thorsness, and pioneers of the the UBC Sauder School of Business Arc Initiative, Jeff Kroeker and Aklilu Mulat.

Thursday, 12 February 2015
- It's been busy.... TAFA student's go back to school, the maize is growing, 3 more plots of rice planted at Mkondezi, with 2 more plots this weekend, we have found a used refrigerator, Mary Nyirenda was very sick with a serious leg infection, and with all the rains in flooding, has come the malaria. Jacco returns from South Africa and with him came the Duvets, another business fundraiser for TAFA

Mary Nyirenda was busy, with Jacco's help, funding students back to school after the Christmas holidays. A huge, huge thanks to Julia and Guy Borgen for their great support with a donation to help us fund the students. The money was also used to buy the rest of the needed fertilizer for Alfred Kamisa and his family and village for the maize. We were frightened for many weeks, as everything was so dry and the maize had grown to around 15cm. Then it started to rain, and rain and rain. Now the fear was too much water and a destroyed crop. Farming is never easy, but global climate change makes everything unreliable or too intense. Mr and Mrs Gama are again involved with the 5 plots of rice at Mkondezi. After this weekend, all of them should be planted. TAFA cheated on ploughing.... we hired the tractor from the Mkondezi Research Station instead of using the cows.

Steve Harawa found he could not return to St John's College after the holidays. The government ran out of funds and the school is now scheduled to open this coming Monday. He has been spending some time with friends and Gracious in Karonga. With Steve's help we may have found a refrigerator for Gracious sausage business... a used one in Mzuzu. Steve is going to check it out on his return this week.

Mary Nyirenda was very sick with an intense leg infection. Much oozing and puss and extreme pain. She took some weeks off from her position as Headmistress of Mkondezi school, but managed to ensure the TAFA students received necessary funding to return to school, winnow the last crop of rice to ready it for sale and to work with Jacco and the Gamas on the next planting. She also suffered from malaria last week... as did two other TAFAians, Tusa and Mathews.

Jacco returned from his stay in Pretoria with a quantity of duvets. Now this is not what you might think would be popular with Malawians... but popular they are. It has been a great business experience for Jacco, dealing with transport costs on the bus, customs and selling them. But his efforts are paying off in some additional funding for TAFA.

Monday 8 December 2014 - Pido graduates; 1.5 hectares of maize has been planted in Kasungu by Alfred; Mary and Mrs Gamma have ensured our latest crop of rice has been successful, (harvested last week); Richard Mtambo gets 17 points in his MSCE and is taking courses to prepare for scholarship exams; Steve gets ready to continue his nurses training in hospitals in Mzimba and then to Zomba; Monica continues to be a star pupil at Bandawe Girls school; Gracious and TAFA continue to work on planning for refrigeration for the his and Abie's sausage business in Karonga, and Jacco gets invited to spend Christmas by Father Chris at his Haphororo youth retreat center, at Pretoria near Johannesburg.

Pido at his graduation this week from Soche Technical College

November has been very busy with TAFA projects and students working on their education. I am so proud of Pido Kalipa! He just graduated from SOCHE Technical College, studying business. He never gave up, even though TAFA had little money these last two terms to send any additional assistance for food, to supplement the daily regime of "beans" for every meal. Pido is working on his plans now for an internship and being employed.


Alfred surveying his maize after it has been planted at the village near Kasunga

Jacco on the motorcycle taxi, leaving Alfred's village after checking on the maize

The maize has been planted by Alfred Kamisa, his family and some in the village where they live. We have 1.5 hectares planted and it is already over 15cm high. We have purchased fertilizer, but are a couple of bags short (limited kwacha/$$) but we are working on this. Everyone is l "praying" for rain, so we have a good crop and great harvest.

Our "dry season" plot of rice has been harvested at Mkondezi, with great thanks to Mrs Gama and Mary Nyirenda and some of the TAFA students. We are waiting until next week (when the TAFA students have finished exams) to "willow" the rice, which is the manual sifting of the rice from the chaff and stalks. The money from the sale of this rice will help with school fees in January.

Richard Mtambo, prepping for scholarship exams

I am so proud of Richard Mtambo who got 17 points on his MSCE (government exams). I have known Richard for a few years since he was a student at Nkhata Bay Secondary. TAFA has sponsored Richard to preparation classes in Mzuzu to write his scholarship exams, with plans to study engineering at the Polytechnic in Blantyre which is part of the University of Malawi.

Steve Harawa, continues his 2nd year training at St Johns

Steve Harawa continues his nurses training at St John's. He has been part of medical teams of people that have been mutilated to children approaching death through malaria and other diseases. He now goes to study at the Mazimba hospital and then down to southern Malawi at Zomba where Chancellor College, University of Malawi is situated. Steve has also been the mentor for Richard, to help get him to excellent prep classes for his scholarship exams.

We are also so proud of Monica Nkhayange! Jacco has been managing funding of fees and school supplies provided by funding from Sri in Dar Es Salaam. She continues to be one of the top students at Bandawe Girls School. I have great dreams of TAFA's continued support of Monica and hopes that TAFA can get additional funding to help many more girls like her.

Gracious Mwandwanga, hot on the pursuit of "big" business after graduation

"Mr" Gracious Mwandwanga, one of TAFA's first students 4 years ago and an inspiration to hall of us. Through the biggest of challenges, Gracious has made it through secondary school and graduation and has been motivated to team up with his friend Abie with her sausage business. TAFA, with the input of Gracious and the spreadsheet knowledge of Jacco, have been working on how we can finance/purchase a refrigerator and electric meat grinder for the sausage business

"Jacco" Mhone, taking a well deserved break
after a grueling and challenging couple of months

And the infamous "Jacco" Mhone... TAFA project manager and business student at GLECS College in Mzuzu. Jacco has finished his ABE exams and expects excellent marks from his studies. He has been able to do this, as well as monitor and supervise the other TAFAians and projects, write reports for TAFA, create spreadsheets and send me the TAFA "weekly spender" spreadsheet every week. A term very well done. Thank you so much Jacco! And for Jacco the reward has come from Father Chris Schonenberger, founder of Haphororo Youth Retreat Center, at Pretoria near Johannesburg. Chris has asked Jacco to spend Christmas with him at the retreat and is providing transportation, lodging and food. I have no doubt this "trip" may be one of the highlights of Jacco's life and he will get to experience life so different than in Malawi. I really thank Chris for his generosity and time doing this for Jacco. And I wish Jacco an "excellent journey".

Father Chris, on a visit to Nkhata Bay with Jacco


Wednesday, 29 October 2014 - The rice has been harvested and sold, and TAFA has 20 students attending secondary school and 4 in college. The marks are coming back this week from the June MSCE exams (level 4 = 12th grade) government exams and some students have greatly impressed. Many of the graduates are working on projects with TAFA - maize in Kasungu, a sausage business in Karonga, looking at a car wash in Nkhata Bay, and of course, our next plot of rice at Mkondezi will be ready to harvest in 3 weeks. Joe's replacement knee from D-Rev has been delayed 2 months but our project with D-Rev and Dr Robster Nyirenda, head of Orthotics at Queen Elizabeth hospital is coming together well. And needless to say, many of us TAFAians have been discussing Ebola.

It has been quite the September and October. As is usual in September, we at TAFA work hard to see what funding we can find to add to our revenue from our projects. And it can be difficult and stressful. We seldom have enough money to send all our current students back to school. This year we were greatly helped by TAFAian initiative!!! We made some money from our rice plots at Mkondezi. Thanks to the hard work from Mr Gama and his wife; our TAFA "mum' Mary Nyirenda (headmaster Mkondezi school), "Jacco" Mhone (TAFA project manager) and many TAFAians, we are proud to say that we made a profit. Jacco just sent me the "profit/loss spreadsheet, I am analyzing it and then it will be sent to Mary for "final audit".

I chatted with "Pido" Kalipa last week and he is proud be be graduating from Accounting at SOCHE Technical College in Blantyre at the end of November. It has been a couple of "challenging years" for Pido, but "we" have done it!! So proud of Pido. Now with along with TAFA... we must figure out a plan for Pido for employment work or a business. Richard Mtambo called me yesterday, he got 16 points in his MSCE - one of the best scores of anyone I know. Now we are working on seeing how he might get a scholarship to go to Malawi Polytechnic in Blantyre to become an engineer.

Gracious and Shem are finalizing plans for their sausage business in Karonga. These boys are learning about expenses vs profits and learning to create a budget and business projection. The business looks good, Still a few more details. Gracious was one of the first students TAFA sponsored. We are proud to have assisted him through 3 years to his graduation in June along with Shem. TAFAians I am most proud of.

TAFA is also working with Alfred in Kasungu on our largest project to date - growing maize. Alfred Kamisa, a student who graduated last year from Nkhata Bay Secondary has been persevering and most adamant we get things going. Thanks to his direction and spirit, the ridges have been completed for planting the maize. We are currently working to buy the seed and get it planted before the first rains.

OUR GOAL AS YOU CAN SEE - is to make TAFA self sufficient through our projects with the students we have been sponsoring. This gives the students an income after graduation, they can learn business and also help to fund TAFA.

I would like to thank Milo Gach, of Milo European Cars in Vancouver for his continued support, this time money directed to our maize project. Others like Cheytna Butler with her monthly contributions. Without our supporters, these businesses could not be started and operated.

And a huge thanks to "Jacco" Mhone. As a college student at GLEC's College of Business Science, he has his days full with classes and study. He has also been the organization with Mary to fund the students and co-ordinate and monitor the projects, along with his deskmate at college and fellow TAFAian MacDonald.

I called Joe Mandhlopa three days ago, good news Joe! D-Rev just confirmed we are getting some of their first knees in production. Bad news... they have been delayed 2 months for production changes. Joe is a TAFAian who lost his leg last year in a dump truck accident. TAFA has teamed up with D-Rev in San Francisco and Dr. Robster Nyirenda, head of orthotics at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre. The plan is to build Joe a new leg with the D-Rev knee as a test, in plans to supply many of the "high tech/low cost knees" to amputees in Malawi. This project, inspired by my connection with the Rotary Club in Malawi should be operational now in March when the first knees ship.

And Monica Nkhayange, a 15 year old orphan at Bandawe Girl's School... with her sponsor Sri, Monica continues to excel. I talked with her headmaster last week... she was in the top 4 out of 60 students. Jacco is working with her directly this week to help ensure her tremendous success.

And yes, we have been having conversations about ebola. There have been no cases of ebola in Malawi. We are hoping it stays that way. Malawi is on the opposite side of Africa from the epidemic in West Africa. But it is a huge concern.

Thursday, 21 August 2014 - TAFA continues to "grow" it's farming projects. With the great success of our 4 plots of rice at Mkondezi, we have purchased another plot, already planted by Mr. Gama. We are also begriming the preparation with our maize project near Kasungu.

Like all "good" entrepreneurs, the "bumper" crop of rice we harvested a few months ago, is sitting and awaiting its selling in the next couple of weeks. The profits will be used for school fees in September as well as to grow the number of plots we have for the next rice season. Seems the Malawian government has run short of funding for the building of the new Nkhata Bay Hospital. Mr. Gama (father of TAFA student Kondwani, and who has been the "head mentor" of our rice project) was working on construction at the hospital has to leave home to find employment. So helping each other, TAFA has bought a plot of planted rice from Mr. Gama and he can use the money for relocation for work.

Alfred & his father at the village near Kasungu

TAFA is also working with Alfred Kamisa, at TAFA student and graduate last year of Nkhata Bay Secondary School. Alfred submitted, what seems to be a most viable project of growing maize in his village about 20 kilometres from Kasungu. Jacco (our illustrious project manager) went to Kasungu last week to visit Alfred and assess the project and see how it can work.

The home of Alfred and his parents near Kasungu

I am most impressed with Alfred, and his tenacity to make it all work. In conversations with Jacco from Alfred's parents home, "their living situation is very bad, Mr Barry". Alfred has always been working hard and doing his best, even when he would have to stay in Nkhata Bay when school is out, when his parents and TAFA did not have funding for his return transport home.

And most importantly, a huge thank you to Cheytna Butler and her daughter Silver Butler in Vancouver, Canada for their contribution of $100 which paid for the Mkondezi rice plot and it's fertilizing to happen this weekend. And another huge thank you to Mary Waterhouse in Seattle USA for her $100 contribution which is funding the beginning of the maize project with Alfred.

A typical Malawian meal of nsima, beans and vegetable

It is now the TAFA's mission to be able to take donated funding and "grow it", so that any contribution people give can be "doubled" within the year. An amazing goal, but I believe with our past track record, most possible.

Monday, 22 July 2014 - TAFA is proud to be part of the success of the new Zayed Energy and Ecology Centre - Solar Academy Nkhata Bay/Chinthetche, Malawi

A couple of months ago, Gail Swithenbank contacted me from New York. She had a new project that was just funded and wanted to chat. Lots has happened since then, Gail is now living in Chinthetche for the next year, and the school is already up and running with its classes.

Chrispin teaching solar classes at The Zayed Energy and Ecology Centre

The Zayed Energy and Ecology Centre - Solar Academy's mission is to train people how to use and implement solar in their homes and businesses. I was most happy to suggest to Gail that she contact TAFA Chairperson Chrispin Gogoda, Assistant Lecturer in Renewable Energy Engineering Mzuzu University Department of Energy Studies who is head lecturer and working with Gail on the programs content and goals.

We at TAFA are looking forward to a long term relationship with the school and are planning to work with graduate students in their quest of creating sustainable businesses with solar in the Nkhata Bay area. click here for more pictures and information


Monday, 14 July 2014 - So sorry Steve, so sad for your mother and family. Last night was a tragedy in Mzuzu as fire swept through and destroyed at least 1/2 of the city market. This included the clothing shop of Steve's mother and family.

The people of Mzuzu woke in shock today when they found that over 1/2 of the large downtown market had been destroyed by fire last night. Steve Harawa contacted me and sent me the photo above. His mother's store was located near the source of the fire. This is an incredible tragedy for so many, in so many ways. There is no fire insurance, and rebuilding will be most difficult. Everyone's livelihood has been destroyed as well as all their stock and inventory.

Steve Harawa is a TAFA student, taking nursing training at St John's in Mzuzu.

PLEASE, If you can help, even with $20, I will be sure to get them your funding help by the weekend. click here to donate on PayPal

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 - The rice has been harvested, (a "bumper" crop), Kondwani has problems going blind in one eye, and many TAFAians are studying hard, writing their exams. And having their graduation ceremonies.

For me it has been both an amazing and an extremely tough month. I am so thankful to Mary Nyirenda, Mr. Gamma, Jacco, Lutengano and all the TAFAians who worked on the rice. It is truly a wonderful feeling to see it harvested and in storage and in such great quantity. Now comes the decision of what to do with the rice.

"Do we warehouse it and then sell at maximum profit? Do we give some of it away to those in the villages we know are truly going hungry? Do we use it for school fees in September? Or do we use the money to refinance more rice plots and also perhaps other businesses such as maize and paraffin?" - these are the questions I am discussing with the TAFAians this week.

I am still waiting to hear back from Kondwani about his blindness and the surgery he had in Lilongwe. He called me about a month ago, "Mr Barry, I keep going blind in one eye, everyday my sight disappears completely and then after a number of hours it returns." I felt so sad for Kondwan. Losing your sight is truly difficult, especially so when you are preparing to write your MSCE government exams, which may determine so much of your future. And yes, the lack of good medical care in Malawi and how scary that can be.... Kondwan went to Lilongwe to a private hospital and the surgery seemed to have worked. He returned to the hospital last week for a check up and they found problems and re operated. His sight had not returned when I spoke with him in our last conversation. His phone is broken and he is hard to reach... so we wait to see the outcome.

So proud of Gracious! He took a field trip with his school a couple of weeks ago to see some of the animals of Africa and was lucky enough to see elephants and many other animals. To those of you who have supported TAFA and Gracious, this trip for Gracious cost less than $20, and he truly had an experience of a lifetime. Gracious was one of the first TAFAians, calling me night after night, "Mr Barry, please help me with my school fees". In the 3 years since, he has grown into a reliable, caring and conscientious young man, who has overcome formidable obstacles to completing his schooling. We talked 4 days ago. He had just finished his graduation and received his diploma 15 minutes before I called.. Congratulations Gracious!Now we must figure out where to go from here....

To all the TAFAians, Kondwan, Shem, Isaac, David, Aaron, and many more who I will add when I confirm their graduation - CONGRATULATIONS!! - on your graduation. For many, we have been working together for 3 years to do this... and you have so amazed me.

Lutengano and your wife, congratulations on the birth of your healthy baby girl. The birth was so scary and I have no doubt there was much prayer. Lutengano and TAFA are working together to see how he can go to college. Thank you Lutengano, for how much you have contributed to TAFA and our projects, especially the rice over the last 6 months.

And most importantly, I would like to thank Guy and Julia Borgen, for helping TAFA in certainly a time of need. Your contribution has helped to get Kondwan hospital care he so desperately needed and has helped with shoes and shirts so that students can attend their graduations. Without your help, some TAFAians would not have been able to attend their own graduation ceremonies and receive their diplomas.

Saturday, 3 May 2014 - Lutengano sends me pictures of the rice plots... having grown extraordinarily well and ready to harvest. We chat on the phone and I find out he is at Nkhata Bay Hospital and his wife is expecting a baby any moment.... Medson Ngwira is attending Malamulo College of Health Sciences in Tyolo District doing Biomedical Sciences... Pido Kalipa is back in Nkhata Bay after finishing his internship in Lillongwe at Rainbow Paints, unfortunately a week late returning to college, as he has no money for his fees. And Mary and Jacco work hard on students lists and fees for the upcoming school term.

The TAFA rice plots at Mkondezi are ready to harvest in the next 2 weeks

It's the approximately 3 weeks of every term where every one returns to school and fees must be paid. And I "sweat it out" looking for money for the kids. Jacco has been busy with Mary, compiling students lists and fees. The parents have been meeting with Mary to work out their contributions and Mary has been distributing what money we have.

Gracious Mwandwanga

Gracious, who was one of the first TAFAian students, is now in his final term of school in Karonga, and will be writing his MSCE exams. I am so proud of him! His challenges have been huge, and not something that can be described on the TAFA website. Jacco and MacDonald are back at school at CLECS College and approximately 20 other students are being given school fees as TAFA comes up with the money.

Medson Ngwira

When I was in Malawi in July, Aug, Sept, I spent some time with Medson Ngwira, his mother and Mary, working on coming up with money to write exams for college admission. It is always hard when money is limited, to decide if it is a good investment to fund students for college admission. In Medson's case, I am so happy we believed in him and his mother. I will post more about Medson as the term progresses. Medson, we are proud of you and wish you the best at college!

For Lutengano, thank you for all the work you have done with Mr. Gamma with the rice plots. Together you have been a most incredible team. I look forward to talking with you in the morning about how your wife is, and your first baby. I wish you all well.

Monday, 31 March 2014 - A big thank you to Jacco, for working with the headmaster at Bandawe Girl's School and helping distribute 15 pairs of shoes to needy and hardworking girls.

"Dear Jacob,
Thank you very much for the fifteen pairs of shoes that your organisation, Touch and Feel Africa has donated to our girls here at Banfawe Girls secondary school.

May God bless you abandantly,
Benford Mwakayuni
Head teacher'

Saturday, 01 March 2014 - Jacco went to visit Monica at Bandawe Girl's School to bring her school supplies and shoes.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014 - We are so proud of Jacco! Not only did he pass all his exams, even with a distinction.... he has found a new way to ride the transport on his way to Chintheche to vist Monica, a TAFAian student at Bandawe Girl's School



Thursday, 6 February 2014 - A video of some of the best of TAFAians and friends from 2011. Enjoy!


click to enjoy


The TAFA Convention in July 2013 - Learn more about what we did and what we accomplished and why it was held "click here"

and of course, financial contributions so we may grow our projects!
Send me an email:
Barry Thorsness - Founder, Touch And Feel Africa

Barry Thorsness - Touch And Feel Africa Founder speaking at GLECS
(click on image to enlarge and learn more about GLECS)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 - Congratulations to Chrispin Gogoda, the staff at GLECS INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES and all of the GLECS students on being named Mzuzu's leading Business College by NorthernLife Magazine.

I am most proud of Chrispin, the staff he has assembled, and most of all, the students who have truly made GLECS successful since it was begun 2 years ago. I was honoured to have the opportunity to speak to many of the students when I was spending time in Mzuzu in July, August and September 2013. (Yes, that is Mr. Barry in the photo above). TAFA continues its close association with GLECS by helping the college with the donation of 2 computers during my visit and with a TAFA scholarship program to help students with their tuition and exam fees. GLECS is registered with ABE in UK providing "International exam accreditation" for their students.Two of the scholarship students TAFA is working with are MacDonald Khwiya and Jacob "Jacco" Mhone.

MacDonald Khwiya and Jacob "Jacco" Mhone

Chrispin Gogoda speaking at the TAFA convention in Nkhata Bay in July

click here to see more about the TAFA convention

from left to right: Wongani Kamanga, Imran Banda, Chimwemwe Phiri, Everlin Panja, Luntengano Munthali, Aaron Banda, Chawezi Longwe, Robert Mwale, Ganizani Kaunda, Henderson Masewo, Laston Banda, Grant Banda

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 - TAFAians, you have done a GREAT JOB!!! The TAFA rice plots are planted, and school fees (and shoes) are being dispersed.

School fees and shoes are being dispersed this week as all the planting is complete in the 3 TAFA rice plots at Mkondezi. The fertilizing still needs to be done, but I am assured by Mr. Gamma that everything is on track. Thank you TAFAians, for such a great job!

Malawi and "the Lake"


Currently, 70% of Africans are under the age of 30. By 2040, 50% of the world’s youth will be African, most of whom will be women and girls. With nearly half of the youth population in Africa currently unemployed or inactive—and 72% living on less than $2 per day—communities are finding it more urgent than ever to enable new avenues and solutions for the creation of quality jobs that make way for youth livelihoods and productivity. How these communities address this challenge could shape the future of the world in unprecedented ways.


Rodrick Banda at a Rotary Club luncheon in Lilongwe

Monday, 13 January 2014 - Thank you to Rodrick Banda who hosted Giang Le from Murphy Burnham & Buttrick - Architects in New York City, who are designing school furniture for UNICEF project.

Giang contacted me in October through my friend and Malawi associate, Gerald Macheso (see Malawi Education Foundation). I contacted friend and associate Rodrick Banda who was generous enough to take Giang to see many schools and meet some people in education in Lilongwe.

Here is the result so far of this UNICEF endeavour... Malawi being the pilot project...
UNICEF desks for Malawi


Pido Kalipa

Monday, 13 January 2014 - Pido begins his internship at Iqbal's paint company.

I met Iqbal at a Rotary Club luncheon in Lilongwe, and he was very generous in offering to help me/TAFA in any way he could. Thank you Iqbal for creating a position and some funding for Pido to complete his internship requirements for college. It is so much appreciated.

Iqbal Jakhura - Lilongwe Rotary Club member

Sunday, 12 January 2014 - The rice farming continues....

Two plots have been planted. Wednesday is a holiday in Malawi, so the TAFAians will be planting then and on Saturday. Thanks so much to Mr Gamma for his supervision of the planting. He is a professional at this and his work has been flawless.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 - I find a leg for Joe.

As I wrote in September when I was with Joe, he had lost his leg in a dump truck accident in March. The leg he has been fitted with is of low quality and very hard to use and walk with. I have been fortunate to find what I believe will be an ideal solution. The knees have just be put into production, so this will not happen immediately. And we must find a doctor/clinic to fit the knee and leg in Lilongwe. This is where I hope the Lilongwe Rotary Club can help.

See the D-Rev knee:

See Krista Donaldson at Ted Talk speak: The $80 prosthetic knee that's changing lives
Krista Donaldson & the D-Rev Knee VIDEO


Tuesday, 31 December 2013 - The rice farming continues....

Three rice plots have been ploughed and ready to plant... and here are Aaron, Ungani, Chisomo, Kondwani, Davie, Robert, Imran along with Jacco at the camera

Monday, 16 December 2013 - TAFA students begin clearing the 4 new rice plots we have secured.

I am exciting to announce that today TAFA is beginning the clearing and ploughing of 4 of its newly aquired rice plots at Mkondezi Village. 7 TAFA students are working on the project, overseen by Mary Nyirenda, Headmaster at Mkondezi Village.

Profits from the sale of the rice will be used to fund school fees and to add to the number of self sustaining/income generating projects TAFA is introducing in the next 12 months.

(see Projects for other businesses we have created
to help the students become selfsufficient)

TAFA member Tenson and his cows, ploughing the rice plots when I was in Mkondezi in September. Tenson and his father make much of their livelihood from ploughing for the many rice growers in the village.


Sunday, 15 December 2013 - VICTOR NYIRONGO BLESS BEGINS WORK as a Lilongwe guide and service coordinator.

Victor and I have been working on some ideas of how he might make some money, both to help support himself and be able to return to school. Tomorrow he begins work as a Lilongwe Guide

vist Victor's page link here

(see Projects for other businesses we have created
to help the students become selfsufficient)

Friday, 6 December 2013 - A COMMEMORATION OF NELSON MANDELA - Touch And Feel Africa (TAFA) partners with Education Without Borders (EwB) for a Fundraiser.

Barry at Ten Thousand Villages, Granville Island, Vancouver

Wednesday, 4 December, 2013 - Touch And Feel Africa (TAFA) partners with Education Without Borders (EwB) for a Fundraiser on Friday, 6 December.

Please join us on Friday, 6 December 4pm - 8pm (you can come anytime, but that is when we will be there) and shop for your most interesting Christmas gifts. Support TAFA and EwB as well as artisans around the world. Ten Thousand Villages provides us with 15% of the sale. PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR COUPON!




Sunday, 27 October, 2013 - Touch And Feel Africa (TAFA) publishes its student list today.

I am happy today to post a list of student fees paid for the current quarter. As many of you know, I was very short of money when I was in Malawi and was concerned many students would not be able to attend class when I was leaving in September. TAFA now has a record number of students in school, including 33 students in secondary school and 3 in college. The list includes student fees and supplies for individual students as well as costs of projects begun while I was in Malawi including the convention.

see: convention

see: student list

Mary Nyierenda, TAFA coordinator, mother of us all us TAFAians
and headteacher at Mkondezi School

A huge thanks to Mary Nyirenda, headteacher at Mkondezi School who not only organized the student fees, but also interviewed students, parents and some headteachers. When I was in Malawi I found this process to be quite overwhelming and soon realized that without Mary, school fees would not be paid and these students would not likely be going to school.

And a big thank you to those who helped in my last minute campaign for funding ; Millicent Nelmes, Denise Web, Joseph Reid,Denise Whittaker, Libbey Effeney, Christopher and Alane Nelmes my brother Brian Thorsness and my parents Julian and Edith Thorsness. Without your help, this would never have happened.

And a thank you to Milo Gach, of Milo European Cars, my mechanic in Vancouver for about 40 years, and especially Julia and Guy Borgen of Seattle, who have been wonderful and consistent contibutors since TAFA began in 2010. Without their contributons, the convention would certainly not have happened and we would have missed the experience of meeting each other, writing out our goals and planning our futures.

And to those students and parents, some who would wait for me from 5:30am and walk hours to reach Mkondezi Village to meet and speak with me about their school needs, and did not get funded. My heartfelt recognition of your difficulties and circumstances. I do pray that many of you have been able to find financial resources to help fund school fees. Especially this year, when inflation has made all of this so very difficult.

****Thank you Sahani Banda for typing this whole student list on your phone and sending it to me when everything else seems to have failed.

Monday, 15 October, 2013 - The first shoes arrive for students from Tom Shoes

I am most happy to announce the beginning of the distribution of shoes to needy students from Tom's Shoes in the United States. It is important that a student has "proper" shoes to wear to school along with their school uniform, or they will be asked to leave school. This has been a big part of the TAFA budget, to supply all its students with shoes. Usually we purchase used shoes for around KW6000 or about $20. Often the cost of shoes can even be more than school fees and limits the students we can help to school.

Thank you Tom"s!! and your One for One program. And thank you to Sahani Banda who took the bus from Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu and then on to the roadblock between Blantyre and Lilongwe to retrieve the shoes. This was a 7 hour ride in each direction, plus the time of "finding" the shoes in Zalewa.

Sahani is now distributing the shoes and we are going to get feedback on the quality and usefulness of the shoes over the next 7-10 days. We have ordered another 300 pairs for distribution to our TAFA students and others who are being sent home from school because of lack of shoes.

A summary of the TAFA students, convention, projects and a review of the 3 months I spent in Malawi, coming very soon!

Sunday, 30 September, 2013 - A wonderful and inspiring Rotary Club Luncheon in Lilongwe; I leave on the Intercape bus from Lilongwe, but must ride in some trucks to reach Joburg; I stay with my so generous friend Sharon in Joburg and use her computer and office for work, as all 4 computers I brought are now with students and schools; I visit Ha Phororo and Father Chris, enjoying the incredible retreat and reflecting on my 3 month journey; spending time with Andrew, George and Frank, learning their plans for returning to Malawi and most importantly, working with Andrew, Mary and the students to get the school fees paid in Malawi.

Baby Madalitso Gogoda, (the son of Chrispin and Love,
where I stay in Mzuzu every Friday) barely 3 months old when I arrived,
now aware and smiling at life, at 6 months

On Thursday, Sahani, his uncle Alex and Knox got me to the bus at 5:30am for the long 2 day, 1 night ride to Johannesburg. I had appreciated so much the help the 3 of them had given me and the great hospitality, and help with visas and even a yellow fever certificate.

Knox, saying good bye after spending the week with me, having me driven around
in his car all week, having Sahani and I as a guest at his home, and even doing
my washing and ironing... truly a wonderful experience!

The insanity of visas and a yellow fever certificate...

I returned to the Mozambique consulate and got my visa, and instead of having to pay $83 at the border to cross the country on the bus, buying the visa here I had to pay 11,000 Malawi kwacha or about $30, They also insisted that I have a yellow fever certificate (I showed a visit to Tanzania in 2010 in my passport) and so Alex and Knox took me to the hospital, where I had to pay for a certificate... malawi has no yellow fever vaccinations in supply. I then went to the Zimbabwe consulate.

There I was refused a visa, being told I can get an "instant" visa at the border. They told me that the Canadian government charged $75 for a visa and treated them poorly, so this was what they were doing. I was so angry and the dreading "waiting" at the Zimbabwe border and the fact they were going to charge me 75 United States $$$, just to cross the country in the bus. I thought of Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe and how he must use the US$ for his currency in Africa, and the craziness of his leadership for the last 35 years. I also contemplated how the Canadian government was treating African's and the hassle I had 2 years ago for a Canadian Visa when my friend Maxie came to visit me in Vancouver from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Sahani lighting the cooking fire at Uncle Alex's in Lilongwe where we were staying

Knox's mother's home close to where we stayed in Lilongwe

Joe Mandhlopa, a very good friend of Sahani's we visited in Lilongwe. Joe had a tragic accident in May, when the dump truck he was driving encountered problems and he lost his leg. His prosthesis is very crude and makes it difficult for him to walk. We are looking into alternative solutions.

Sahani at the entrance to the Rotary luncheon at the Sun Bird Hotel in Lilongwe


Rotary luncheon at the Sun Bird Hotel in Lilongwe

Rotary luncheon at the Sun Bird Hotel in Lilongwe


My host Stallard Mpata at Rotary luncheon at the Sun Bird Hotel in Lilongwe

Iqbal Jakhura at the Rotary luncheon
who has volunteered to greatly assist with our TAFA endeavours


Sahani and Rodrick Banda. Rodrick accompanied me to the Rotary luncheon. We met on the bus when I was coming from Johannesburg to Lilongwe. Rodrick has been involved in education and currently has a school he has started in Liwonde. He is assisting me with the TAFA projects.


Sahani at "Steers" in Lilongwe experiencing the first hamburger of his life. 2 days before, some of the Tafaians enjoyed their first milkshakes ever.

Uncertain travel in Africa...

The bus left Lilongwe, 1 hour and 20 minutes late, and I was off. At about 4 am I was awakened by a huge bang, and a feeling of a bus stopping as fast as it possibly could. The bus pulled off to the side of a very dark highway and we got off the bus to see what had happenned. Seems we had hit a donkey, killing it, as well as killing the bus. Some calls were made by the bus "concierge" and we were told eventually that another bus that possibly could pick some of us up, was also broken down and we would have to wait for a bus to arrive from Johannesburg. Considering Joburg was still at minimum 10 hours away, and that we were in Zimbabwe and the rate at which things happen in Africa, that this was going to be a long, long wait.

The bus, disabled after hitting a donkey at 4 am on the highway in southern Zimbabwe

I hiked up the highway to a toll plaza and explained to the people there what had happenned. They were most friendly and helpful, as I asked if they would ask any drivers in trucks and cars, if I could get a lift. I returned to the bus and explained to the concierge that I was "leaving" and if I could get my bags from under the bus. He thought what I was about to do was a good idea, and perhaps he could get a truck for all of us. This he did remarkably fast. I was amazed how efficiently and fast we were organized and headed down the highway in the back of the truck with all our "stuff".

loading all of us and our "things" from the bus for the first leg of the journey to the
Zimbabwe border.

The 2nd truck ride to the South African border

We got to the Zimbabwe border, were processed out of the country by immigration, and he found another truck to get us to the South African border, where he had contacted the bus coming from Zambia to have it wait for us.

I will be contacting the Intercape Bus offcie this week to tell them of my experience and how Alick Kantumbra was so good at his job. All in all, we arrived in Johannesburg 1 1/2 hours late, and that was mostly due to heavy traffic created by a long weekend holiday.


Back at Ha Phororo Retreat near Pretoria, South Africa. I sat here my first day back
contemplating the last 3 months since I was last here and everything that had happened.
And of course... where does the journey go from here??


Andrew Samalia, from Likoma Island, Malawi


Sbonelo at Ha Phororo. We have some long and wonderful conversations about life


Sbo's wonderful hair...
and I questioned why Malawian's aren't as artistic as South Africans?

George, Andrew's cousin from Malawi who has been staying at Ha Phororo with Father Chris and the other boys.


Andrew's infamous "office" where he goes so I can call him in South Africa
and have long, extended conversations, without cost :)


Father Chris, George and Andrew,
seeing me off from Johannesburg on my return to Seattle and Vancouver


Monday, 16 September, 2013 - I am in Lilongwe, Getting ready to leave Malawi and the long 2 day bus ride from 5 am Thursday to about 6 pm Friday night in Joburg; the students head of for school, in the complicated and badly managed secondary school boarding system; getting transit visas for Mozambique and Zimbabwe, Aaron Mhone's paraffin business is growing so fast; Mary Nyirenda is hospitalized; and Sahani and I stay with his uncle Alex who is driving me around Lilongwe helping me get everything done.


Aaron and MacDonald - saying goodbye

Jacco waiting with us for our departure

The trip to Lilongwe was okay, an hour late leaving on the premium AXA bus system (rates about 2 stars out of 5) and we got to Lilongwe about 10:30 pm. Aaron Mhone, Mac Donald Watsopano Khwiya and Jacco Mhone saw Sahani Banda and myself off on the bus. Again it was so sad to be saying goodbye. So much accomplished, so much left undone. We had a meeting with Adam at Hiroshima Autoparts about our import business a few hours earlier and Aaron had arrived in Mzuzu the same day to get more paraffin for his fast growing business in Chituka Village supplying the fishermen for their night lanterns.

Left Mary with the complicated job of paying the school fees...

I had left Mary with looking after the payment of the student fees and felt so bad but grateful. It is all confusion here in Malawi when school starts. You cannot just enroll in a boarding school. To transfer students, TAFA created their own form which is signed by the student, headteacher and then sent to the Regional Education Manager and the Lilongwe office. If you can image, the process takes 3 months and the student waits it out at their last school. Confused, me too? And what if you are an orphan, limited home life... how do you go to school? One day I was so angry that I called Mzondi Moyo, the District Education Manager in Nkhata, who I have known for many years, and told him that I if I had the money, I would never deal with the stupidity of Government Schools and only support Private School Education. Hopefully I will eventually get the $20,000 or so funding to build a hostel near Kunyanja school and not have to go through these problems any more. And the students will get a far better education.

The world has gone crazy with travel visas!!

Well I blew it badly this time by using my Canadian Passport. Africa is retaliating and making it difficult and expensive for Canadians to get visas. Canada treats Africans so very poorly for travel visas, I would think if the Africans could, they might just stop granting visas to Canadians. It cost me $75 for a visa to cross Zimbabwe by bus - not even getting off the bus except at the boarder and then $83 for Mozambique for just travel across the country by bus. I heartily objected to the boarder people, and they just said that Canada treats them worse. What could I say?

I am now having to visit both the Mozambique and Zimbabwe consulates here in Lilongwe to get my Visas and proof of a yellow fever immunization.

Aaron Mhone has made me so proud and his paraffin business is growing fast and thriving!

Aaron and I started the business 4 weeks ago and already the fishermen are calling him to get for paraffin. From just 20 litres the first week, Aaron seems to be up to 40 litres which may be sold in just 2 days. For a young man, with almost no income a month ago, except that of the hard work of selling some fish, this is really something. We have great plans which I am looking forward to sharing with you all as we move forward.

Mary Nyirenda is hospitalized

I got a call three days ago that Mary had been taken to the hospital. My heart fell and I felt trapped by being in Lilongwe. The good news today is that she just called me and is supposed to be released to go home today. The diagnosis was malaria...

Finishing up in Lilongwe and so grateful to Alex and Rodrik

Sahani starting the morning cooking fire at Uncle Alex's in Lilongwe

Sahani's Uncle Alex Msiska

Sahani and I have been staying with his uncle Alex. Alex has driven me around, innumerable times to the banks, and the consulates. Helped me get proof of a yellow fever shot and has given up his bed for the couch so I can have his bed. Thank you Alex!

Visting Sahani's good friend Joe

Joe Mandhlopa showing us his prosthetic leg which resulted from his accident in May

We took some time yesterday to visit Joe Mandhlopa, a good friend of Sahani's. Joe had a tragic accident in May when the dump truck he was driving had a problem and caused him to loose his leg. I look forward to keeping in touch with Joe and greatly admire how he is dealing with it all.

Tomorrow I am off to the Rotary Club luncheon here in Lilongwe. Rodrick Banda who I met on the bus coming from Joburg is going to accompany me. He has been willing to take on the job of helping to coordinate the TAFA/student businesses, created computerized statements and reports and oversee things for us.

Uncle Alex working on cooking us supper

Off to Joburg on Thursday for the long 2 day ride from 5am to after 6pm on Friday. Sharon Versfeld will be meeting me and I look forward to visiting Father Chris, Sbonelo, George, Frank and Andrew at the retreat. Will write about this and the end of my stay in Africa when I am back home in less than two weeks.

Again- THANK YOU to all of you who have contributed financially to help the students return to school. And a big thank you to Angela Johnston in Australia who is continuing to directly fund Isaac Bichoza to Nkhata Bay Private School. Angela found TAFA on the internet and asked if I could help verify that Isaac was who he claimed to be and that is was indeed going to school. I am so happy to announce.... Isaac is truly a wonderful Tafaian... and a delight to spend time with, and most conscientious about getting his education.


Thursday 12 September , 2013


Millicent Nelmes $100

Denise Web $50

Joseph Reid $100

Denise Whittaker $30

Libbey Effeney $100

I was so appreciative as the donations arrived on Facebook. Joseph Reid knows Malawi well and he travelled with Louis and I from Mbeya Tanzania to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in 2010 when we met him waiting for the train at the Mbeya station. I wish you were here to enjoy the students Joseph!! And also Libbey who joined us on the same train. You both know what it is like to be in Malawi and what these students must go through to get an education

We are now up to $380

Only $220 to go to reach our goal of $600

Thank you all so much!!

Wednesday 11 September , 2013 - I get up in the morning to experience one of the most emotional mornings of my life; some parents and students have been waiting for me since 5 am; Mary Nyirenda and I call one of the headmasters of a boarding school to work on placement of 4 TAFA students; I meet with Grant Banda from Lisale, who has walked over 3 hours from his village of Lisale to meet me (see my visit last week to Bwelero and Lisale with Mary); some of the staff of Mkondezi Primary School come to say goodbye; I do my final packing and Mary suggests she doesn't want to walk me to the village road as she will cry; two other TAFA students suggest they do not want to accompany me to the highway as they will cry too....

It was one of the most emotional mornings of my life accompanied by a frenzy like feeling to get as much done with the student enrollment as possible, meet with some of the students and parents, make it the usual 60 minute journey into Nkhata Bay to visit the ATM and get more "top up" for my phones whiich had no more calling time. Isaac has washed my clothes and they were laying both on the bushes and reeds on the ground, drying as fast as possible in the morning sun, me wondering if they would dry fast enough that I could pack them on time.

Jacco Mhone

When I got to Mzuzu I went to look for Jacco Mhone, who when not at college can usually be found studying at the Mzuzu library. We went for a coke, and then to the bank and he told me how he had done the best of the class in his last exam at GLECS International School of Management Sciences. I am so proud.

Jacco is an orphan and has no means of support. TAFA has been sponsoring him for approximately one year while he attend GLECS. We spend last night out for pizza, a first time experience for him. You can imagine being 23 years old and never had chocolate cake, icecream or pizza - all accomplished in the last 2 weeks.

It is a great privilege to know Jacco and I can see why everone loves him so much.

Ungani... we formed a great friendship at Mkondezi Village and were best friends!


Mary and the teachers from Mkondezi Primary saying goodbye


Mary Nyierenda, headmaster of Mkondezi Primary School with over 650 students. Mary is the TAFA mother,. Without her TAFA would not function... and needless to say, we are all indebted to her great work spirit, her ability to "do anything" and her endless generousity to everyone, including me, all the Tafaians, and all the students she takes in to live with her, many of them orphans, many abandoned by parents who will not help them or cannot help them to to school. The truly amazing MARY!!


Grand Banda after his 3 hour walk and 1 hour wait to see me about his school fees.


The dogs Lion and Snake... aptly named after she was bitten by a huge snake at TAFA convention. The side of her face was eaten away by the venom. Most any person would have died... snake is still with us and we enjoy each other every day.


Waiting for transport at the highway at the location of the new Nkhata Bay Hospital at Mkondezi


Ungani saying goodbye after I carried him all the way from the village to the highway on my shoulders. He can even say a couple words in English... so embarrasing me and my lack of skills in Tonga and Chichewa... something I must do soon.


Tuesday 10 September , 2013 - I AM HAVING A SCHOOL FEE CRISIS!!! - please help me and the students here in Malawi.... yesterday was the beginning of the school term in Malawi, and yes the payment of school fees. TAFA/I have many wonderful donors who have seen me through almost four years of school fees and other necessities for the students. Yesterday was truly a difficult day for me... I had to inform the students in a teary talk that I did not have enough money to fund them to school this term. A couple of donors have promised me funding and then due to financial problems, heart attacks and more... have been unable to help. CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME??? This is so important - 6 people at $100 each - you will make such a difference. email me at or deposit the money through PayPal at or Barry/TAFA paypal

This is so important to do right now! Since I was here that last time, prices and school fees have doubled or even more. I leave Malawi in 10 days (back in Joburg about the 20 September and back to Seattle/Vancouver on the 26 September.

These are great kids!! And this is their life - you can truly change their life with your help.


Thank you,



Monday 9 September , 2013 - Mary Nyirenda's sister, Solofina Nyamwenda dies and we attend a huge funeral at the village near Chintheche; Steve, Aaron, Nelson and I explore Mzuzu and the three of them have their first experience with chocolate cake and ice cream; Nelson leaves for school at Faith Private in Chitipa; Mary and I take two days to walk to Bwolero, her home village for a visit and to meet with some TAFA students; I spent some nights with the Gamas, and with revist Sahani's land at his Grandfathers visit with Louis the head of the Mkondezi Research Station.

Mary's sisters death was very unexpected. As I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we spent time with her at the Chintheche Hospital before she was transferred to the Nkihata Bay hospital. There she improved rapidly and was discharged to go home.

Mary Nyirenda and her sisters at the funeral


Pounding casava to make nsima for lunch and supper


The funeral procession


The gravesite


Steve, Nelson and Aaron at the dam in Mzuzu. We went on a walking tour ourselves and then went to Mzuzu Coffee so the boys could experience their first taste of chocolate cake and icecream



Nelson at the Mzuzu depot at 6am getting ready to board the bus to Karonga and on to Chitipa. He will be attending Faith Private.


Boys "hanging around" watching the Sunday night soccer game


Traditional boat building in Bwolero


Mary and the lake from the family home in Bwolero


Mary packing water from the spring that supplies water at Bwolero village


Sunrise on Lake Malawi


a modified cooking fire at Bwelero


Laston Banda TAFA student from Mndola Village near Bwelero
Mary took me to meet them in their village which is an hours walk from her village of Bwelero

Ganizani Kaunda TAFA student from Mndola Village near Bwelero
Mary took me to meet them in their village which is an hours walk from her village of Bwelero

Mary with the students on the road to Bwelero


Sahani's room at his mother's house in Nkhata Bay

Kondwan Gama, where I have been spending much time when I am not at Mary's

"Me" in he Gama family shower

Truly one of the most wonderful "baths" in the world. You can enjoy the stars after 7pm, and in the morning see everyone walking up the village road, wave and greet them as you wash your hair, and watch Mrs Gama prepare breakfast and all the kids running around the yard. Truly a treat.

The new puppies at Mary's house

Surveying and evaluating Sahani's land last Sunday with Louis Mwamlima, the head of the Mkondezi Agriculture Research Station, Webster Kanyimbo, Sahani's agriculture teacher, from Kunyanja Private Secondary with Sahani.

Louis Mwamlima, the head of the Mkondezi Agriculture Research Station

Sahani pondering his land and his future

(see Projects for other businesses we have created
to help the students become selfsufficient)



Tuesday, 27 August, 2013 - "Assembling" an import business with the help of Adam and Helena (Andrew's Aunt & Uncle); Pizza for the first time; a most dangerous highway, 4 days in paradise, although a bit noisy; a paraffin (Kerosene) business in Chituka Village; Nelson just fits into TAFA plans and gets to go to school in Chitipa at Faith Private; staying with Kondwani; lunch with Imran; a tour of home and school with Steve Harawa, nursing student at St John's Hospital; and lunch as a guest with the Rotary Club of Mzuzu.

It has been a busy couple of weeks, complicated by the power being shutoff in Mzuzu by Escom (the power company in Malawi) and limiting work at internet cafes in Mzuzu, slowing down my work and the updating of this page. To make things more interesting, I left Mzuzu in a crowded taxi on my way back to Nkhata Bay, when after about 15 kilometres, the brake pads cracked and jammed in the front wheel of the car. Luckily, we pulled to the side of the very dangerous highway. After waiting for the smoke to dissipate and removing the pads, the taxi was ready to carry on. I refused to go further, considering the brakes, and Jacco and I got a lift shortly from an Escom employee. I laughed as we talked... he was the one who shut off the power the same day in Mzuzu so he could do some work. I asked him if he would rather be "keeelled" while driving of maybe he should pull over before I choked him. All in good fun.

TAFA now has the structure of its importing business done. The order forms were created on Saturday and we are ready to take orders. With thanks to Helen and Adam at the Hiroshima Auto Parts store in Mzuzu, we now have a reliable way to get our products from South Africa to Malawi. Adam just bought a 20 tonne truck and will commence transport in a regular schedule in the next few weeks.

(see Projects for other businesses we have created
to help the students become selfsufficient)


Chrispin, his wife Love and baby Madalitso Gogoda's home in Mzuzu, where I spend every Friday night and sometimes Saturday while I am in the city working using the internet


Trucks off the highway last weekend, slowing my return to Nkhata Bay from Mzuzu

Fish drying in the sun at the beach at Chituka, the home and business of
Aaron Mhone's grandmum near Chintheche.


Weaving more mats to dry the fish


Tafaian Aaron Mhone washing my clothes. I stayed with Aaron and his Grandmum
for 4 days at Chituka Village on the beach of Lake Malawi.
Aaron and I have now teamed up, creating a small business selling paraffin (kerosene)
to the fishermen for their night lights which they use for fishing.



Aaron and some of his friends playing at "Cirque du Soliel" on the beach


the boys playing in the water with the traditional Malawian boat, still used for fishing today


Solitude - on a truly magnificent beach, and not a hotel or tourist (except maybe me) to be seen, anywhere.... Aaron and I have had some of the most incredible conversations on this beach about life, religion and God I have ever experienced.


Nelson Chirambo - a new Tafian from Chituka Village. Nelson was left behind when his father (a church minister and who makes no salary) and his family left to go to Chitipa about 10 months ago. It was another moment of "serendipity" when after we spoke that I realized he would do well at Faith Private in Chitipa, the school of my friend and teacher Alex Kanyimbo where I had just visited the week before. Nelson is a very bright boy, but not likely to do well in his MSCE - Government exams, as his English is so poor.

I am working with both Faith Private in Chitipa and Phonics Private Secondary in Karonga to send up to 5 students who TAFA would not otherwise fund, who are bright, but really need to become most fluent in English.


A graveyard at Chituka Village, and reminder how tough life was 125 years ago and still is. The graves were mostly young men, from Scotland, aged 28-32, who had likely died of malaria. The mission was closed because of malaria and moved farther north to Livingstonia.

Kondwani Gama, chopping wood for the supper fire at Mkondezi Village. I have been most honoured to spend much time at the Gama's and see village life from a different family's lifestyle. They have be so generous to me.


Love, Chrispin and baby Madelitso, sharing their first experience of eating pizza at the A-1 restaurant in Mzuzu.


Went to the winery last Monday at Mkondezi Village to try the banana wine. Although the people at the winery (Mkondezi Wine Processors) were most gracious, and they spent much time showing and explaining to me about their certificates of business, I do believe the wine needs a bit more work before it would be a commercial success in the USA or Canada.


Tafaian Imran Banda at the fields - often rice fields near the home he lives with his brother. Imran is an orphan and has been one of the "original" Tafaians.


Imran, his brother Matthew, Matthew's wife and their family. A most extraordinary family as Matthew not only supports his family, his younger brother Imran, but he is also a student in the afternoons and evenings at Nkhata Bay Secondary, a walk of over 90 minutes from Mkondezi.


Imran and Mathews Banda


Sahani Banda, working as a DJ at a function last Thursday in Nkhata Bay


Lunch with the Rotary Club of Mzuzu. This was truly a wonderful time and I was able to meet and talk with many Rotarians from Mzuzu. I had time for a short presentation of TAFA and our projects. Another meeting has been scheduled this Friday for further discussions of how we might work together on many TAFA projects and team up with Rotary Clubs in Canada.


Steve Harawa and his mother in Mzuzu. I spent much of Saturday afternoon with Steve (who is a nursing student at St John's) I met his mother who has a store selling clothes and then we walked to his home and I met some of his brothers. We then walked up the hill to St Johns so I could see his school and the dormitory room where he is currently living. Steve leaves for a 3 month practical at the Chitipa Hospital on Sunday. I am hoping he will be able to travel with fellow Tafaian Nelson Chirambo and deliver a computer which TAFA is donating to Alex Kanyimbo's school Faith Private.

And I get a haircut....

Peter and his barbershop in Mzuzu

It was a challenge to decide where to go to get a haircut... not very many African barbers have had any experience cutting a "mzugus" hair. I did not balk at the fact he charged me kw1000 (about $3) when a regular "African" cut was kw200. Peter was good and most enjoyable to talk with. I thank Jacco for his excellent suggestion! And I think the haircut does look good... I was getting pretty shaggy after over 2 months since the last one.


Saturday, 10 August, 2013 - The "holiday to the beach" gets postponed and I travel to Karonga and Chitipa

Last weekend in Mzuzu was very cold and pouring rain, not something usual for this time of year during the "dry season" in Malawi. My plan had been to go for a few days holiday to the beaches near Chintheche, but it was so cold and wet, my plans changed. Sahani Banda met me in Mzuzu on Sunday and we left for Karonga to visit his Grandparents and the last of the mourning of his Auntie whose funeral was the week before. It was great to meet many of his family and see how life is in northern Malawi, near the lake and where it is usually some of the hottest weather in the country.

Sahani Banda

Sahani and his mother Olissa

The Grandparents home in Karonga

I also had the opportunity to visit and stay with Gracious Mwandwanga, one of the first students TAFA sponsored. We had a good time exploring the Karonga museum and spending time at the field about 30 minutes from his home where the grow maize and other food for their subsistence. Gracious has been working on his plans for some land he has near Rumphi and plans for chickens at his home. This year will be Gracious final year in Secondary and we spent some time with his Math teacher who will be helping him both with his studies and creating spreadsheets and forecasting how he can make addition income to help support himself and his mother.

Me with Gracious's mother and Gracious



The family garden plot 30 minutes from home

getting water for building bricks

I also had the opportunity to visit Phonics Secondary School and Moses Mwakilsalu and Denis Kumwenda. Denis is the headmaster and Moses is a teacher who gave me great assistance when Augustine spent a term at their school. A great school, with a really good reputation in Karonga, they are struggling to build a science laboratory for the school.

Moses and I at Phonics Private Secondary

Sahani and I left for the very northwest part of Malawi and the mountains to visit Alex Kanyimbo and his family in Chitipa. Near both the Zambia and Tanzania border, Chitipa is somewhat different than other places in Malawi. I had "met" Alex 2 years ago when TAFA student Augustine Nyirenda had been a student at Palm Private Secondary and Alex was his math teacher. Alex has gone on to found Faith Private Secondary, a school that ultimately will be aimed towards the education of orphans who need a place to stay to school and have very limited financial resources. I greatly commend him on his work and the school. TAFA is considering sending 4 students this September to his school so they might master English well and be able to do well with their secondary education.

Alex Kanyimbo and his grandchildren in Chitipa

Alex, his wife at their home in Chitipa

Faith Private Secondary in Chitipa

the beginnings of the new Science Laboratory, finished when funds allow

the market in Chitipa

We returned to Mzuzu on Thursday, with a short stop in Karonga and short visit Gracious and his math teacher.

The Karonga Museum

Gracious and his totally worn out bicycle

Yesterday was a bit difficult as the government seemed to spontaneously declare a holiday for the end of Ramadan. The internet cafes and most businesses were closed and this concerned me as I had web work I must do. Mary Nyirenda and I had a meeting the the Regional Education Manager to discuss placement of TAFA students for September, but due to the holiday it was cancelled. We spent much of the after working on which schols were best for each student. Today, when I got to my usual web cafe, there was no power... Thankfully the power was on across the street and I have been able to work and post this weeks events.


Friday 2 August, 2013 - Visiting the Nkatha Bay Pastoral Centre, ploughing with Tenson and the cows in the Mkondezi rice fields, an afternoon spent with Isaac Bichoza and his mother and Grandmum at their home, traveling with Sahani Banda to his village to evaluate his land and back to Mzuzu for the "Open Day" with Chrispin Gogoda and his college, GLECS International College of Management Sciences.

On Sunday, a group of us, including Louis Mwamlima, the superintendent of the Mkondezi Research Station (Malawi Govt agriculture research), and one of his staff, Angela Mikwamba, along with Sahani's agriculture teacher from Kunyanja Private Secondary, Webster Kunyimbo, and good friend and agriculture teacher Isaac Undani from Nkhata Bay Secondary School visited the Nkhata Bay Pastoral Centre. We went to visit and learn about the tropical herbs and plants grown in the area, used for treatments and health supplements for malaria, HIV/AIDS and other health problems. Our teacher and mentor was Kristoffer Ivers, who had set up the garden and with his Peace Corps partner Stony, gave classes and conducted seminars. It was a great time, as most everyone was already a "plant professional" and the questions and conversation were most interesting.

On Monday morning, Tenson (a TAFA student) came by with his two cows at 5:30 am to get me and we walked the 45 minutes to the Mkondezi Rice fields. It was my first learning experience at learning how to plough using cattle. Tenson's family has many rice plots and Mkondezi rice is know as being top quality and very tasty, something that I can certainly attest to.

Tuesday afternoon was spent with Isaac Bichoza and his mother at their home near the centre of Nkhata Bay. It was a moving experience, as their living conditions were very minimal and Isaac actually sleeps at a neighbours. They had gone all out to prepare the lunch and bought some very tasty large fish, which I am sure are not something they have very often. Isaac's mother's income is mostly derived from the making of the local spirits. I had a small taste, and it really was good and even better than many that I tasted when I was in South Africa 3 years ago. Isaac became a Tafaian when his sponsor, Angela Johnson, found me and TAFA on Google and asked if I could locate him for her. Turned out to be a very easy task as Isaac was best friends with another TAFA student, Aaron Banda at Nkhata Bay Private.


.....and Tuesday night it poured rain... this is the dry season in Malawi and rain is unlikely. And boy, did it impact our day on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, I was woken at 5 am by Isaac Undani, teacher at Nkhata Bay Secondary and his wife where I had come to visit the day before. I had arranged for Sahani, Webster Kunyimbo, James (who helps Sahani with agriculture work) and myself to go to Sahani's village and survey the land he has. Sahani had been adamant I be at the "roadblock" at 6 am as it was long way to the village and transport could be difficult. They arrived in a hired car and picked me up and we drove to the turn off from the highway, about a 40 minute wet drizzly drive.

We were lucky, the rain had stopped, but the road to the village was so muddy and almost impassable... guess it was good to be on foot. After about an hour and a quarter, we arrived at the village. And a wonderful village it is..... far different than I thought for a remote Malawi village.

There was gravity feed water system, powered by solar. There was irrigation being done with a pump on a trailer. There were pigs, cattle and even pigeons purchased by Sahani's grandfather. After meeting Sahani's grandfather, Edward Duncan Banda and his grandmum, I understood more of what Mary Nyirenda had told me. Sahani's Grandfather is brother to Richard Banda, the husband to Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi.

We followed Webster as he did a survey of Sahani's land. We got soil samples and picked the indigenous growth so I could take it back to the Mkondezi Research Station and have it all analyzed. It is beautiful land, and seems to be very fertile. A creek runs at the edge of land and can probably be used as a small fish farm... We are going to all be working on plans for it over the next 10 days.

(see Projects for other businesses we have created
to help the students become selfsufficient)

We even took time to visit the hot springs at the village.

Today is Friday, and as usual, I am in Mzuzu to do my "webwork" using the internet here. Life is interesting as some of it is working with a client and good friend Richard Fisher who is currently in Vietnam. Interesting chatting on the internet cafe from Malawi and working with someone in Vietnam.

In one hour, the "Open Day" is happening at GLECS International College of Management Sciences. I am honoured to be the Guest Speaker. I will write more next week.

Steve Harawa is feeling better this morning after a week of malaria. Mary's dog who was bitten by a large, very poisonous snake at the TAFA convention is doing well, which has greatly surprised me, as any man would have died.

I am traveling to Chintheche on Sunday for a few days of very much needed rest on the beach with Aaron Mhone and his Grandmum. (see pictures below from previous weeks)

Saturday 27 July 2013 - Spent much of the week visiting TAFA students, often with their families, Mary Nyirenda's sister is very ill in the Chintheche Hospital, visit another TAFA student who is in charge of the records and reporting of the HIV/AIDS department at Chintheche Hospital, Chisomo Katenje, and get to visit paradise south of Chintheche, when TAFA student Aaron Mhone invites me to spend the afternoon with him and his Grandmum in the village of Chituka.

My week started off when on Monday I met Sahani Banda at his mother's home near the old Nkhata Bay Hospital. Seems it was also the day, Joyce Banda (an Auntie of Sahanie) and President of Malawi was coming to visit the new Nkhata Bay Hospital located in Mkondezi where I have been staying with Mary. Sahani took me on a long and wonderful walk, which began when a man approached us about buying his waterfront property. We went to look. It was amazing... hopefully one day the home of TAFA and 10 orphan students! Sahani took me to visit the home of Jacco's brother and wife, then to Wakisa Mwenechanya's home to visit his family and his mother, and then off to visit Frank's family (who is currently in Johannesburg). I spent the night at, Sahani's and then the next morning he took me on a tour of the old hospital and to his mother's office who is a councellor and to Wakisa's mother who is in charge of the hospital kitchen.

On Tuesday I went for a all morning meeting at Kunyanja Private Secondary, seeing Feston Singoyi and Sydney Simumba founders of the school and who I had spent considerable time with last time when TAFA donated the computers to the school. I also got to spend time with Sam Greene, the project manager at Kunyanja, who I had met on the transport 2 days previously. We discussed the school, TAFA, how to make things work better between us and the incredible projects that Sam is starting and administrating at the school. Sam and I are planning a meeting soon to see how TAFA may work with the school on some of the projects. Aaron Chiteche, the school bursar and the person who has help TAFA in the last number of months with student fees, exams fees and other needed graduation clothes and supplies, as well as the financial coordinator for the TAFA convention.

On Wednesday, Mary Nyirenda and I left for Chintheche to visit her sister who is very sick and in the hospital there. Mary had been up since 4 am when she was summoned to attend a very early funeral in the village. We stayed with one of Mary's sisters and family and were able to visit 2 days at the hospital. It was wonderful to have Chisomo Katenje, at TAFA student who I had met at convention, working at the hospital and able to help us visit and coordinate the move of Mary's sister to the Nkhata Bay Hospital.

Aaron Mhone had contacted me and asked if I could possibly visit him and his grandmum in Chituka. I had not thought that it would work for a number of weeks and then I found myself only an hour away by transport. Aaron cycled up to Chintheche, and we took the bus back to his village. Amazing is all I can say! The beach at Chituka is one of the most beautiful I have seen anywhere in the world, it is like the ocean but on Lake Malawi. I am planning 4 or 5 days there after this week, to get a much needed rest and truly enjoy myself. Nothing there but the beach and the village.

On Friday I was back to Mzuzu, to work on websites and spend time with Chrispin Gogoda to work on next Friday's "Open Day" for GLEC's College.

On Sunday we are off to visit the Nkhata Bay Pastoral Centre. I had met Kristoffer Ivers on the bus from Lilongwe 3 weeks ago on my way to Nkhata Bay. Kris is from the US and working both at the Pastoral Centre, growing plants and herbs and also at Chitipa, where they are cultivating fruit trees. I am working with Sahani Banda who has some land in his village to see what we can grow and what will be best. We have teamed up with the Mkondezi Research Station and Angella Mikwamba and McDonald Moyo who are agriculture experts. We are also being accompanied by Sahani's Agriculture teacher from Kunyanja Webster Kunyimbo and a good friend and Agriculture teacher Isaac Undani from Nkhata Bay Secondary School.


Monday 22 July 2013 - In partnership with TAFA, Glecs International School of Management Sciences is having an OPEN DAY - Friday, 2 August at its Mzuzu school.

Prospective students will learn how they can enroll in the various programs offered by Glecs

Business Management

Human Resource Management

Marketing Management

Travel Tourism and Hospitality Management

Financial Accounting (PAEC/ACCA

Scholarships are available from TAFA to help with tuition and exam fees

25 Scholarships available to study at
Glecs International College of Management Sciences

0888 542 395 / 0999 600 613 or international calls +265 888 542 395 / +265 999 600 613

Sunday, 21 July 2013 -The TAFA Convention, training as tour guides and the ongoing discussions of starting an importing business.

We have been fishing, off to see the monkeys, trying all the local food both on the
highways and in the villages.... and TAFA - Local Tours has begun.

As a way to raise money for school fees, and to expand our small businesses, some of the TAFA students in Nkhata Bay have got together to begin a "local tour business"

(see Projects for other businesses we have created
to help the students become selfsufficient)

The TAFA Convention 13/14 July 2013,
Mkondezi Village/Nkhata Bay

Last weekends TAFA convention was quite amazing. First of all, the logistics were not easy. You must consider that feeding and creating a place to sleep for 30+ students is a task in itself. And if you consider you are cooking on the floor, without refridgeration and without running water, things become even more of a challenge. Thanks to Mary Nyirenda, headmaster of Mkondezi School, everyone was accomodated, many on mats in a school classroom and we were fed well, extremely well.

Many students travelled a day to reach Mkondenzi Village, near the road block at Nkhatah Bay. Gracious travelled all the way from Karonga which took him 2 days. (Gracious was a student who 3 years ago, persevered, phoning me night after night... "Please Mr. Barry, I am a good student and they have asked me to leave school because I cannot pay my school fees." Gracious wrote his government exams last week and has now graduated from secondary school.

Thanks to Kwame Phiri for beginning the planning, and Aaron Chitete, (the bursar at Kunyanja Private) who not only worked on the planning with Mary, but also kept track of the money and finances.

The Convention was opened by me, with a short address welcoming the students and thanking everyone who had done so much to make it happen. Mary spoke for some time with the students, and then Chrispin Gogoda, TAFA Chairperson, and head of Glec's International College of Management Sciences, gave a talk on achievement and how a person can reach their dreams.

The Goals of the Convention

  1. For us all to meet each other as fellow Tafaians and get to
    know each other, and be support for each other in the future

  2. Discuss TAFA and how it works and doesn't work for everyone

  3. Write out our goals, plans and what we are inspired to do
    over the next 2 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years

  4. Work on business ideas/plans/projections so we can create
    an incomefor the students and TAFA

  5. Discuss our lives, beliefs, how we can create what we need in our lives
    and discussions of what God means to us.

  6. Create Team TAFA... have a couple of soccer games and practice for our match against Manchester to beat them

  7. Writing "wish lists" of the things we need to go to school and also other things we wish to have such as shoes, trousers and food.

  8. Conversation of TAFA's projects, including the starting of a bakery in September, eReaders as text books, a tourist guide service, importing business and others.

Each student spoke, talking about their lives, including school, many of them living without parents and very limited means of support. They talked about how TAFA had helped them to be the successes they are, and what it meant to them. This may have been the most emotional time for me personally I have ever experienced.

A most important thank you. I would at this time really like to thank Guy and Julia Borgen, in Seattle, WA USA and Milo Gach of Milo European Cars in Vancouver, BC Canada. Without their generous contributions over the last years, and specifically donating money just before I left for Malawi, this convention and the wonderful stories these students were able to tell, would not have happenned. Thank you Guy, Julia and Milo for making the convention happen!

And a big thanks to Bianca Battams, visiting from Sydney Australia. Bianca contacted me about 2 months ago, that she was returning to Nkhata Bay for the 4th year in a row, and if their was anything she could do to help. Bianca and her friend Dustain Chirwa helped us to facilitate the events. Both Bianca and I share a great love of this wonderful place.




Monday 14, July 2013 - In Nkhata Bay, Malawi, endured the long bus ride, that for many turned out to be longer than 2 days. We just had the TAFA convention, Saturday and Sunday (13/14 July) with more than 30 Tafaians attending!!

It is truly wonderful being back in Nkhata Bay. Arrived after a very, very long bus ride and an expensive one at that. Will explain more over the next few days when I have a bit more time.

The TAFA convention on the weekend was amazing. To see and chat with over 30 Tafaians and talk about what has been happening was fun and most energizing. . And planning our futures. We discussed everything from TAFA, school, home, getting enough to eat, all to the businesses we are planning to create and what God and life meant to us.

And most importantly... the first football game (soccer match) between the "odds" and the "evens" of Team TAFA. Lots of fun and these guys are pretty good.

I look forward to adding much to this story in the next few days and will include some pictures.

Thursday, 4 July 2013 - I arrived in Johannesburg on Monday 24th June. - Spent time with Andrew Samalia and Father Chris Schonenberger at Haphororo Youth Retreat Center - went with Father Chris and Andrew, to meet with Medson Mphande in Rustenburg, met Frank Mwale, who seems on his way to becoming a Tafaian, then moved to stay with Sharon Versfeld at her new beautiful home in Midrand. Today I am working on planning for the TAFA Convention at Mkondezi School near Nkhata Bay.

It was the longest flight of my life... Seattle, New York, Amsterdam and then Johannesburg. I was so tired at the baggage claim, I had to ask someone what day it was. The flight on KLM was certainly less expensive than my favourite airline, South African... but is Amsterdam really on the way to Africa from Vancouver/Seattle?? Father Chris Schonenberger from Haphororo Youth Retreat picked me up at the airport and we traveled about an hour to reach the retreat.. Truly a beautiful place, and I believe so much is because of the talents of Chris himself. (Pictures to be posted soon, or check out the link to Haphororo) A great mediation centre, with a maze, great and beautiful accomodation and even excellent food.

On Tuesday morning, Andrew had made the 1 hour walk from where he works and stays, to greet and spend the day with me. Such a great feeling to finally meet someone who you talk to a couple of times a week for 1 year. (see about Andrew below and his Beach Breeze Bar he has built on Likoma Island, Malawi) On Wednesday, Father Chris went out of his way to take us to see Medson Mphande in Rustenburg. One of my projects I intend to start this trip to Malawi is a bakery in Mzuzu. Medson, who I met in Mzuzu (he is on the TAFA board of directors and baked me the incredible banana bread on my last trip), is a master chef and baker, and needless to say, and integral part of creating the bakery and having excellent baked goods.

I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the retreat. Wonderful morning prayers and meditations and great company with the volunteers, one of whom is George, Andrew's cousin who had just arrived from Polokame 2 weeks before.

On Friday, I had my usual "website work" to do and Sharon's generosity of making her office available so I had good broadband to make my work possible, was so appreciated. Andrew came to stay for Saturday and Sunday and got to experience the people, houses and dining of some of Sharon's friends. Not only a wonderful experience for me, but I am sure, a very, very different experience for Andrew.

Frank Mwale contacted me on facebook about a day before I was leaving for Africa. He is from Nkhata Bay, and has been struggling with life in Benoni, near Johannesburg. We met on Tuesday, and spent the day traveling the "taxis/minivans" around Joburg, Midrand and Pretoria, seeing if we could finally end up at the retreat. Was interesting traveling in a way, very few whites would travel, and into some of the areas of Joburg that "tourists" may not generally find themselvesin. Frank was good at getting around and seem to have mastered Zulu amazing well. He wants to return to Malawi to return to school, so we are "evaluating" everything.

Early Saturday morning, Frank and I are again going to see how close we can come to Haphororo and hopefully meet up with Andrew, Father Chris and George. My good friend Joyce Msapenda, who we met on our first trip to Joburg in 2010 is planning on meeting us.

On Sunday morning, Sharon will take me to the bus in downtown Joburg at 6 am for the long 2 day / 1 night bus ride to Lilongwe. We travel the length of Zimbabwe, cross over Mozambique and arrive about 10pm. A trip that took Louis and I originally a month... but we smelled "the roses" along the way. Chrissy who is Chrispin's sister (Chrispin is chairperson of TAFA, of Glec's Restaurant and the School of Business in Muzuz) is planning on meeting the bus, so much appreciated.

The most disappointing news is that Andrew will not be accompanying me back to Malawi. We had been planning this trip for 3 months and he was going to take his "holidays" to visit his family and see his "Beach Breeze Bar" for the first time. Andrew was also the "keynote speaker" at the TAFA convention - which certainly would have been a motivating presentation for all the students. Unfortunately now, Andrew's boss will not let him take the time off and says if he does, he will not be welcomed back.

On Tuesday, before I take the day long journey to Mzuzu/Nkhata Bay, I plan to meet with Grisson, ( who I had stayed with on my last trip in Lilongwe) and Victor a student who graduated from Nkhata Bay Secondary School.

Then it is on to Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay for the convention on the 13/14 July! Jacco (a TAFA college student in Mzuzu) and Aaron, (the bursar from Kunjanja School, along with Mary, the headmaster of Mkondezi school, have been working hard to plan and facilate the meeting. Bianca who contacted me from Australia, and arrived in Nkhata Bay 2 days ago, is also going to help

The convention is 2 days, one night, to meet each other, some for the first time, to plan what each "Tafaian" plans and goals for 2 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 5 years. And most importantly, how "we" will get there. There will also be discussing the business projects we intend to begin while I am in Malawi.

--- and great news!! A confirmation from Victoria, who is with Tom's Shoes, that the 300 pairs of shoes for the students should be available about the 15 August, just in time for school to begin in September. Needless to say I am most grateful to Tom's and so happy that TAFA resourses can be spent for addition school fees and support.

and a HUGE THANK YOU to Milo at Milo European Cars, in Vancouver, Canada and Julia and Guy Borgen for their financial contributions to TAFA before I left. The funding they have provided is enabling us so we can have the first TAFA Convention, and more than 25 Tafaians can work to plan their lives, goals, and implement some ways in which to support themselves and TAFA through businesses in Malaiw.

Saturday, 8 June 2013 - It was graduation at Kunyanja today! And thanks to Kwame and my being up at 5 am this morning, I got to be "there"! Kwame took pictures. messaged them to me in Vancouver as the ceremony progressed. I got to call and talk the the new grads. All as it was happening. So proud of you guys - Ephraim, Sahani and Stevol. You have done well!

The plans continue for the Bakery Project and the Tafaians are preparing their talks, goals and ideas for the TAFA convention at Mkondezi Village, planned for the 13/14 of July.

Ephraim receiving his graduation certificate

I mean it sincerely, when I say they have done extremely well. In the last year alone, Sahani has had malaria twice, once so sick I was really frightened for him. The walk Ephraim makes from Singo Village into town to school, both ways, every day - a walk I have done a couple of times and would rather never repeat. And last minute shoe shopping and then shoe swapping for the next graduation, for Alfred at Nkhata Bay Secondary. We don't have enough shoes - so we share, even for graduation.


Sahani receiving his graduation certificate

Stevol receiving his graduation certificate

Kwame (TAFA project mgr) with Aaron (the bursar at Kunyanja)

After the ceremony, getting ready for the Party!

After "graduation" this morning from 5am to 6:30am I stayed up to chat with Medson in South Africa. I met Medson last time I was in Mzuzu, Malawi and had him bake a wonderful banana loaf for our TAFA board meeting. We spent much of our conversation today, talking about the plans for our TAFA Bakery in Mzuzu, which Medson is going to be the chief baker and chef. We have decided to meet in 2 weeks in Rustenburg (near Johannesburg) along with Andrew and work out some of the details.

We are all working on the plans for the TAFA convention to be held the 13/14 July at Mkondezi School. Wakisa is preparing his talk on HIV/AIDS, Andrew on his adventures to SA and his building of his bar and restaurant, Jacco is preparing a talk on the challenges of how to support yourself when you have graduated and an orphan. Kwame and Mary are working out the details of the food and menu for two days.... and places to sleep for 20 - 25 hard working and fun loving Tafaians. We are going to set goals, write ideas, talk and create some business plans. And then all us Tafaians are off to work... Well, then again there is the new Team Tafaian Football club.... just to keep us extra healthy.

I travelled to Blaine, USA yesterday, to pick up the projector for Andrew's Beach Breeze Bar & Restaurant on Likoma Island. His bar customers now will be treated to large screen video, teaturing ongoing football, top rated movies, education videos and even TEDTalks.... I am also bringing some of Canada's finest culture, many videos of Cirque Du Soleil. Ahhhhh, the expressions on a Malawians face watching Cirque should be priceless and their amazement, incredible.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013
- Just over a month and I arrive in Joburg, South Africa - So happy to say, "Kwame is back and working hard at TAFA" - The students just finished a break and are preparing for their exams - Sahani called yesterday, "Mr. Barry, I can't go to school, I have Malaria" - And I am working on the TAFA Convention, two days, one night with all the TAFA students - the most exciting part of my 3 months in Malawi. Then Andrew gets to see his own bar/restaurant - and dream - for the first time! - all in about 6 weeks.

Time has been going fast. I arrive in Joburg on the 24th June, with Father Chris and Andrew picking me up at the airport. I so am looking forward to staying a few days at Father Chris's retreat, Haphororo in Pretoria . Andrew is living and working fairly close, and the three of us have made some plans to explore and enjoy my stay in Joburg, until Andrew and I leave for Malawi, about a week later. We also have plans to meet with Medson and work on planning the "bakery project" and spending some time with other friends who live in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

It is my hope we get to stop and visit friends in Mutare and Harare, Zimbabwe on the long bus ride to Lilongwe. The "express bus" leaves Joburg at around 8am, arriving "non stop" at 10pm the NEXT night, (no stops except for long long waits at the Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the longest, the Malawian border. That wait can be over 4 hours.)

I am so happy to announce that Kwame Phiri is back as Project Manager. After a number of weeks of "audit" by Martin Bwanali and Frazer Balima (Frazer is sub superintendant of the Nkhata Bay Police and Martin is a constable - they are also both directors of TAFA) we have determined that everything is the way "it should be" with the finances of TAFA and we can move on.

Ever have the nightmare of going to your school graduation in tattered jeans and no shoes?? Welcome to the students of TAFA!! It is graduation time in June and we have been working to get some graduation clothes for some of our students. So they too, can feel proud of themselves and have great memories of their graduation day. Even this is a challenge for us. I have been working this week to get funding to various students and Kwame is going shopping with some of them.

Sahani is sick again with malaria. I talked with his mother again yesterday morning. The medication he got from the hospital seems to be helping. If you remember from the 3rd of December, when I had to send funds to transport Sahani from the Nkhata Bay Hospital to the Mzuzu Hospital because he was so sick from malaria. Please never forget how important a small donation of even $10 can help for 1 or 2 mosquito nets. Most TAFA students still don't have them... we can't afford them. Malaria is so common in Malawi, and so devastating.

The TAFA Convention - happening the first weekend exams are finished. All the Tafaians (should be 25+ or more) are getting together to meet (some for the first time), talk, discuss and set goals for themselves and TAFA for the next year. As brothers and sisters, we are going to discuss everything from working on our planned TAFA businesses, to helping each other in both school and life, to lieing, cheating and AIDS. More on the convention as it comes together.

I am most happy to announce that TAFA "seems" to have secured a source of shoes for its many students at the "supported" schools we have from Nkhata Bay, Mzuzu, Karonga and Chitipa. So if you think we have all gone mad... we have...measuring everone's foot sizes to determine what shoe sizes are most important. More on this as we get confirmation of the shoes.

And for Andrew... for him to actually see his "dream" which he has created from working all his jobs in South Africa. Andrew will be boarding a boat from Nkhata Bay to travel the 5+ hours across Lake Malawi (the 3rd largest lake in Africa - it is huge and very deep) to Likoma Island. I am so hoping I get to sit down with Andrew, have a beer in his bar and restaurant and toast to him and his most amazing accomplishment. Needless to say - Andrew Somalia is the main speaker at the TAFA convention and will relate his stories to us all and will be participating in all the workshops and discussions.


Steve Harawa on his way to train at Mzuzu Central Hospital

Monday, 22 April 2013 - Andrew's bar "the Beach Breeze" has continued to do astounding well since its opening almost 3 weeks ago. All 21 TAFA students are funded again for this final term at school and Kwame Phiri has been asked to leave his position as Project Director with TAFA. I have also been working with Chrispin at Glec's International College of Business for their certification in the UK.

So much has happened in the last 3 weeks, it seems like months. Andrew's bar is doing well, beyond his expectations, which certainly is a great feeling and incentive to continue to make things grow. He is working on equipment for entertainment and the kitchen so that he might open the restaurant part of the business. Thanks again to Mary Nyirenda, headmaster at Mkondezi School. All of TAFA's students from last term are back in school and have been funded. Mary has worked tirelessly to get all the funds to all the different school that the students attend. Steve Harawa continues his nurses training at St Johns in Mzuzu and is doing a practical which included inserting his first catheter last week and working with people who have been severely burned.

Some things work, others do not... so much the story of Africa. It is with great sadness today that I announce that Kwame Phiri is no longer working with or associated with TAFA. This outcome is one of my biggest disappointments of my work with TAFA to date.

And it is a good feeling to see Chrispin Gogoda "grow" Glec's International College of Business in Mzuzu. Jacob "Jacco" Mhone, a TAFA student is doing well at the college and I am working with Chrispin to get accredidation with ABE in the UK.

And it is truely a wonderful feeling as many of the students "flash" me so that they might thank me with great enthusiasm for being able to return to school. That is the best part of "it all" :):)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013 - Andrew's bar "the Beach Breeze" has opened this week on Likoma Island. Chrispin Gogoda, TAFA chairperson and the founder of Glec's International College of Business, continues to expand his school facilities in Mzuzu, and meet the standards for being accredited.

I am so proud of Andrew, of what he has done, and what he has achieved over the last 10 months. From leaving Malawi for South Africa, not so sure what he was doing, to now having his hard work and determination pay off. Kwame, TAFA's Project Manager is spending time on Likoma Island to help the bar operate, train staff and most importantly, implement good business practices.

Chrispin has been working hard to expand the teaching facilities at the college he founded in Mzuzu, Clec's International School of Busienss. He has been working hard getting the school accredited by both the Malawi government and ABE in the UK. I have been supporting him with this, having a number of conversations with people in London.

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