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.
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,
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"
COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS AND QUESTONS.... ALWAYS ENCOURAGED, ALWAYS WELCOME!!
and of course, financial contributions so we may grow our projects!
Send me an email: email@example.com
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"
Monday, 20 January 2014 - CONSIDER THIS AND YOU MAY SEE AFRICA AND THE WORLD VERY DIFFERENTLY:
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. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2013/09/09/7-trends-shaping-africas-youth-employment-challenge-what-do-social-entrepreneurs-bring-to-the-conversation/
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
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!
CHRISTMAS SHOP - GET THE BEST GIFTS
SUPPORT EDUCATION IN MALAWI
AND SOUTH AFRICA!!
PLEASE CLICK ON THE POSTER BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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: 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
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
A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or deposit the money through PayPal at http://www.digitalteamworks.com/paypal.html 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.
Monday 9 September , 2013 - Mary Nyirenda's sister, Solofina Nyamwenda dies and we attend a huge funeral at the village near Chinthetche; 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 Chinthetche 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
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 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 www.canyonsworldwide.net 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
Human Resource 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
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT GLECS AND SCHOLARSHIPS PLEASE CALL:
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
- 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
- Discuss TAFA and how it works and doesn't work for everyone
- 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
- Work on business ideas/plans/projections so we can create
an incomefor the students and TAFA
- Discuss our lives, beliefs, how we can create what we need in our lives
and discussions of what God means to us.
- Create Team TAFA... have a couple of soccer games and practice for our match against Manchester to beat them
- 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.
- 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 http://www.haphororoyouthretreat.co.za . 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.