Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I have recently (as of Wednesday March 14) started on a new placement with Training Support for Partners. They are an organizational development and capacity building NGO that does a lot of the implementation, assessments, and baseline surveys for other NGOs as well as helps them improve their functioning (the whole org development and capacity building side).

In their own words:

Training Support for Partners (TSP) is a process-oriented capacity building Non Governmental Organization registered as a trust. It is a self-sustained stakeholder owned organization providing (on demand) effective process oriented capacity building services. Its mission is to provide capacity building support to institutions to effectively contribute towards the socio-economic development in the country.

As a network for continuous learning, TSP offers a range of process oriented and pragmatic services relating to organizational development, training and research.

From what I can gauge thus far they are mostly working on the implementation side of things for various larger NGOs.

Currently, I am working on a peri-urban water project that is just starting up. We have just completed a rapid assessment of three areas within Lilongwe (Area 50, 56, and Kauma). In the two and a bit weeks, I have been helping them with creating the database to store the information, data analysis, modification/suggestions to the field survey, creating the rapid assessment reports, and suggestions to the proposal that will be submitted. The organization is an all Malawian NGO and the staff are very dedicated and motivated so thus far it is a great fit. I am working “hand-in-hand” with the M&E officer Benard everyday so it is a welcome change. We have been working frantically which has resulted in me working straight through the first two weekends here but things are starting to lighten up as we are in negotiations over the proposal.

So on the work front all seems good.

At home all is excellent. Erin is continuing teaching English at school and her students are starting to be recognized as some the best in the school and their English has markedly improved. Also, she has helped out with some fundraising at the school which has resulted in lots of new textbooks getting purchased as the school administration is getting pressure to supply a better learning environment. For example in Erin’s class they are moving up from 2 books for 30 students to around 15. Needless to say she is really happy to start seeing her hard work pay off. Also at home the rains have continued and unfortunately our Agogo’s house has succumbed to a common occurrence in Malawi at this time of year as a wall fell down. As a bit of a surprise to me they took it well in stride and indeed laughed out loud about it and looked on the brighter side of things once it happened which highlighted again the perspective, determination, and light heartedness of Malawians. It was really remarkable. The gapping hole is now covered up with a bamboo map and a sheet until we can source the funds to fix it. But pangono pangono (bit by bit) they will get there.

My chickens are getting huge and we are starting to eat some of the cocks and the hens are laying lots of eggs! The best part is it has totally been taken over by the family so they should be doing well with chicken farming for years to come.

We also had a new addition to the family on last week. Our neighbour gave birth to little girl, named Dorothy (how appropriate). It was amazing watching her through the pregnancy as it didn’t seem to slow her down though, she was still very active, (chopping wood, climbing fruit trees, etc) despite the swollen belly that she has been carrying around for the past few months – which as you could imagine could make me feel a bit guilty into action at times, how could I stand and watch a 9 month pregnant women chop wood! And even when she came home from the hospital, the next day she was already on her knees mopping the floor and washing diapers by hand!

We also only have 2 months left! So starting to think about what will happen when we move home. But not too much just yet or we risk missing out on the present while day dreaming of the future.

Take care all,


WOW - People from all over!

In honour of visitor number 757 I thought that I would post a quick note of thanks to all those who have been frequenting my blog (despite it’s infrequent posts and marginal quality). I’d also like to send a second thanks to all those you have made replies – it really helps.

One detail that I found very interesting was the spread of people and places actually viewing the site:

And just to prove that I still have a little bit of engineering in me here is the data in graphical format:

Visitors by Country:

Visitors by Time Zone:

Here is a list of some of the actual cities that the site has received hits from (etc. in the case below refers to more ISPs or more that are unknown.)


Ayr, Ontario
Beamsville, Ontario
Brimley, Ontario
Burlington, Ontario
Burnaby, British Columbia
Calgary, Alberta
Dundas, Ontario
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Hamilton, Ontario
Iqaluit, Nunavut
Kitchener, Ontario
Lobo Township, Ontario
London, Ontario (UWO, etc.)
Mimico, Ontario
Montreail, Quebec
Ottawa, Ontario
Port Credit, Ontario

Prince George, British Columbia
Quebec City, Quebec
Shipsaw, Quebec
Tecunseh, Ontario
Thamesville, Ontario
Toronto, Ontario (Knights bridge, Engineers Without Borders, Nexxia HSE, York U, UofT, etc.)
Waterloo, Ontario (Research in Motion, etc.)
Wheybridge, Ontario
Windsor, Ontario
Yarker, Ontario

United States of America:

Arlington, Virginia
Appleton, Wisconsin
Brooklyn, New York
Cary, North Carolina
Carrolton, Texas
Charlotte, North Carolina (Duke Power Company, etc.)
Chicago, Illinois
Dayton, Ohio
Denver, Colorado
Knoxville, Tennessee
Lawrence, Kansas
Lexington, South Carolina
Loma Linda, California
Los Angeles, California
Madison, Wisconsin
New York City, New York
Omaha, Nebraska
Phoenix, Arizona
Princeton, New Jersey (Princeton University, etc.)
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond Hill, Georgia
Rivreton, New Jersey
Roslindale, Massachusetts
San Diego, California
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Sommerville, Massachusetts
Spring Valley, New York
Stow, Ohio
Syosett, New York
Washington, District of Columbia (World Bank, US House of Representatives, etc.)

Other Locales:

Australia, Sydney, New South Wales
Belgium, Heist-op-den-Berg, Antwerpen
Belize, Belize City
Denmark, Tranbjerg, Arhus
Ghana, Northern Region, Tamale
France, Lyon, Rhone-Alpes
India, Goa, Bambolim
Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran

Israel Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv-Yafo,
Kenya, Nairobi, Nairobi Area
Malawi, Southern Region, Blantyre
Malawi, Central Region, Lilongwe
Netherlands, Flevoland, Dronten
Nigeria, Kaduna
Norway, Oslo
South Africa, Cape Town, Western Cape
Spain, Barcelona, Cataluna
Sweden, Stockholms Lan, Hgersten
Uganda, Kampala
UK, Greenock,Inverclyde
UK, Oxfordshire, Oxford
UK , Gloucestershire, Uley
UK, Reading
United Kingdom Privett, Hampshire
Ukraine, Odes'ka Oblast, Odessa
Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Toshkent

Thank you all very much and I’ll get another post up soon,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Christmas with a spear-gun

Being 7,000 km away from home at Christmas can be pretty tough especially if you haven’t had a chance to see your family in 7 months – but getting to use a spear gun to hunt wild Indian Ocean tuna can help a bit.

So as a bit of context, for Christmas break we decided to take a real vacation and head to Moçambique for some sun, sand, and socializing. So on December 22, Trina, Chad (all the way from Western Province Zambia), Erin and I departed Mchinji after picking Chad up at the border and were on our way to Moçambique (for more details on our other times in Moçambique check out Erin’s blog at So I won’t continue with the other details but rest assured that we arrived in Moçambique a day later and enjoyed a fabulous Christmas day and a remainder of a holiday and got a chance to hunt some fish.

Chad and I first discovered this spear fishing opportunity when encountering our soon to be friend Ponga carrying a giant tuna through town in a basket. This fish was huge and once I saw it I was drawn in to find out more information. Ponga, who sells fish on the island, informed us that he purchased them from fishermen on the beach who had speared it earlier that day! SPEARED. They SPEARED this giant tuna. Now being truly hooked I continue the conversation with him about where the fish came from, how they caught it, etc and finally get the low down (well I thought I did) about how the fishing works on the island.

So Chad and I glance at each other and without a word to acknowledge what we are thinking I start to question on the details of these fishermen, where they go, when they leave, how they catch the fish, and most importantly if we can go with them. Since Ponga does business with them everyday he says it is no problem and that we should show up at the beach at 2 am the next morning with something to eat while on the boat and the tools to fish with.

What better way to spend some quality time together than getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning, heading to the beach, jumping in a boat and shooting a giant tuna!

The remainder of the day consisted of trying to track down the required inputs to fish with an ‘arma’ (spear), masque (mask and snorkel), and barbatana (flippers). This was an adventure in itself as we went from vendor, to local fisherman, to South African dive shop guy, to hotel, and back to local vendor and fisherman. It was about 9 pm when we final sorted out all the equipment that we would need: a mask, snorkel, spear gun, and flippers to share between the two of us – after all we didn’t want to fish out the ocean on the first go and we could only eat so much tuna in one day. So off to bed but not before preparing our meal for the next day and assuming that spear fishing is a lot of energy we cook up 2 packages of spaghetti, 6 buns with Nutella, and 6 litres of water.

The alarm clock always seems to go off earlier than it should and it was especially true the morning of the big day as it chimes off at 2 am. But with tons of anticipation, I am out of bed and throwing on clothes and a hat and grabbing our gear. Chad and I meet in the kitchen and we pack out things and run out of the hotel heading toward the beach. About half way there I look over our stuff and realize that we have forgotten our mask! So I head back to the hotel running while Chad is off to the beach to meet Ponga. Half an hour later I meet up with Chad and he is sleeping on our stuff and not a soul is around it seems that even 2:30 am was a bit of an over estimate. Since I’m the only Portuguese speaker I start walking up and down the beach in search of our friend Ponga while Chad guards / sleeps on our stuff. It doesn’t take long until I find someone who knows Ponga and is more than willing to take me to his house. I was a bit hesitant at first considering it was only a bit after 3 but didn’t want to miss the boat so we woke him up and he said no problem and walked with us to the beach where we met up with Antonio the captain of the boat.

Pic of Antonio

It seems that the weather was a bit questionable this morning so they wanted to wait to see how it developed before heading out. But, once we got the ‘alls clear’ from Antonio 15 spear fishermen appear all of a sudden as if they jumped right out of the sea. Once they arrive it is business time with getting gear in order, measuring out rope and measuring out the new kids. Before we jump in the boat and push off Antonio wants to know what are motivation is and I explain that we want to learn and try it out and that we will act like any other fisherman in his
boat. This is acceptable and the last thing we do before we jump in is introductions to the other fishermen on the boat. So I introduce Chad and I and as they stumble over pronouncing our first names I figure I will try something easier and switch to surnames “Teixeira” for me of course and “Silva” for my Norwegian comrade. Once I utter our new names we are welcomed enthusiastically, especially the new ‘silva’ as there already is one Silva on the boat whom becomes our new friend and guide.

The Original Silva---->

On the ride out we start to notice that we are the odd man out in more that one way. Firstly, we have no idea what we are doing which becomes apparent when everyone starts to prepare their gear. The spear that we thought was so impressive the first night pales in comparison to our fellow comrades and is about 20-30 cm shorter and with far shorter rope. And we brought a cooler of food with us while everyone else brought a small plastic bag. Regardless of this we try our best to fit in by asking a bunch of questions and paying attention to the ritual of preparing the gear. Chad Silva starts to sharpen and polish our spear, to the satisfaction of the crew, and we start to get questions both to and from our new friends. Before we know it they have taken apart our entire spear and are realigning it and brining it into top form.

The boat ride out to the fishing spot is about an hour down the coast where apparently there are

plenty of big fish – which of course we boast that we will kill a bunch of. As the boat arrives into position people start stripping off clothes and into underwear or wet suits that were former long under and start jumping into the water with only marker buoys indicating their position. The boat continues to drive along the coast as the fishermen jump out and begin diving to spear fish.

The boat skipper thinks that we should wait until the end of the loop where it is a bit shallower. Chad is the first of us to give it a try as he jumps into the water and begins paddling around. The boat leaves him there and circles back to the first fishermen (who have been in the water for at least 30 minutes by this point) and begins to pull some fishermen back into the boat along with their haul of fish. This is where it gets pretty amazing. The fish are huge, strange, and colourful and include stingrays, moray eels, parrot fish, lion fish, rock cod, butterfly fish, puffers, and a bunch of fish I don’t recognize.

Needless to say as the boat pulls back up to Chad’s position I’m pretty excited to see if he has had any luck but truthfully am not too surprised when he comes out empty handed. This of course draws the attention of the crew that start the light hearted questioning of “where are all the fish you promised?” and “how big was the one that got away?” – it seems that fishermen everywhere have a similar sense of humour.

"So where's all the fish?"

Anyways I’m determined to put this fun to an end as Chad and I switch positions and it is my turn to dive down and shoot at some fish. Silva (the original) I think is feeling a bit sorry for us so jumps in with me to provide a little tutorage. We paddle around for a bit he shows me some tricks to load the spear gun quickly and how to swim with it so that it does not go off and can shoot farther. We soon spot a fish and he instructs me to watch and pay attention to his technique. He then quickly ducks under the water effortlessly swims down to 15 m to the bottom and spears a fish and heads back up. Yup that’s when I really realize it – it is like 15 m to the bottom! Hey I can sink as well as the next guy but it is the getting back up that is concerning and also as I find out the equalizing. Not being a scuba diver before this trip equalizing I found challenging. We continue to paddle around and then spot a sting ray that is trying to hide in the sand. Silva gives me the nod to give it a try so I take a giant gulp of air and start to head down. 2 m – 5 m – 7 m – 10 m – 13m and the small sting ray from the surface now appears much bigger so I line up the shot just when I think I’m about out of air and my ears are killing me but spear too falls short. It seems I needed to dive a meter or so deeper yet. Although disappointed at the miss all I can think of now is getting to the surface to get air and make it in what feels like the nick of time. Silva gives the nod of no problem I’ll take care of it for you and I watch as once again he effortlessly swims down, takes his time to line up the shot, spears the ray, and then takes his time to get to the surface. Wow this guy is really in great shape. Not discouraged and not wanted to be outdone I continue to dive down and take some shots but soon become exhausted, fishless, and thoroughly impressed with our comrades.

As my time draws to an end, even though fishless, I am glad to see the boat return to get a break and give Chad another chance. As he is paddling around again I rest up and take the chance to fish with a line and catch a few very small fish – basically bait for the real fishermen. We continue trying to dive down and actually by the end of the day are very close to actually catching some and Chad claims to have hit one but his spear broke but by the end of the day we are skunked!

Boat Load of Fish

As the boat heads back we pull out our spaghetti and share it with the crew and it goes over fantastically. I can barely keep my eyes open and drift off to sleep for a portion of the ride back and as we pull near the island Silva gives us two of the fish that he caught that day as a gift. Once again I am reminded (but not surprised) by the generosity and kindness of the people that I have encountered during my stay here especially when considering that this is there livelihood. If the weather cooperates they head out everyday dive from about 6 am to 1 pm and catch as many fish as they can to try and sell them back on the island. These fishermen are one of the only sources of larger fish for the entire island and if they are successful then there is fish to eat if they are not then no fish. It is pretty incredible and was a great experience into their livelihoods and lives.

We get back to Erin and Trina and proclaim that we caught nine fish (all very small and on a fishing line nor a spear – but details, details) and had a great time! (and plan to do it again but won’t bring that up just yet)

Chad was the first one to point this out but integration and EWB’s approach to this really helped us to make this amazing experience happen. Being able to sit back and ask questions, to watch and learn, and to generally just have fun with it really paid off. Even though it was not the location where we have been investing time and energy into figuring out the local realities – the experience and process has really helped.

In the end of the day we get to go home with a little bit of fish, a little sun, a great memory and some new found respect for a way of life.



Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What am I doing here anyways?

Well so basically everyone (or most people) kind of knows that I am working with Clinton Foundation (CF) here in Malawi and more specifically on the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) but what does that mean really?

Truthfully a lot of things are still getting defined and roles continue to change but this is what I have been up to thus far and hopefully gives a good impression of what I spend my time on and what I will be up to in the future. Also this will probably be one of the few posts that I will talk about work / CF as it is a bit of a political organisation as you can imagine so I hope this will do – but for more info please feel free to email me questions.


I was brought on board with CHDI after the CF and EWB crossed paths via the legendary EWB volunteer Paul Slomp. Needless to say “the slomp’ impressed CHDI thoroughly and another EWB volunteer was headed over to CHDI Malawi to become part of the team.

Inspecting pump with District Water Officer

The concept was to assist CHDI in its rural development initiative program to help define the water and sanitation program and what it would look like. This has been the real first step by the Clinton Foundation into the realm of ‘development’ and as such there are a lot of lessons to be learned.

Within CHDI, I work primarily with two Americans Mina Hsiang (based in Lilongwe) and Lisa Rickert (based in NY) however our team has been growing recently to include Jimmy (American in Blantyre), Jim (Scottish in Lilongwe), Robert & Sarjo (Gambian in Lilongwe), and Dilly (Malawian in Chitipa).


We are working in three very different regions of the country – Nthalire in Chitipa district, Nambuma in Dowa district, and the entirety of Neno district (see map). The regions of the country were selected by the Malawian government and accepted by the CF. These three regions are very different in very many respects (geographically, ethnically, and topographically). From Lilongwe traveling by private car / 4x4 to Neno is about 5 hours, Nambuma 1.5 hours, and Nthalire about 14 hours.

The implications of attempting to implement in these three very different regions at the same time is still being realized.


Within the CF one of the underlying principles is working with and through the government so one of the challenges within this current project is working with the government at different levels to try and deliver sustainable good community outcomes. This typically requires interventions at multiple levels with multiple stakeholders. Currently my main activities are focused at the district assembly level (kind of like the county level for all us Ontarians). I spend the majority of my time in discussions with the district coordination teams (DCTs) outlining what their overall district water plans are, how they will achieve them, what inputs they require, whom will complete what phases, costs, and goals and ideal outcomes.

All these discussions are being conducted nearly simultaneously in all three districts which results in a lot of travel time as I drive between all there districts


The main output from this activity is a document that outlines what the district is planning on achieving and how it will achieve it with respect to their water, sanitation, and hygiene education programs. The idea is that from this document they will be able to implement their programs with a bit of assistance from CHDI. The plan includes but is not limited to: policy and approach and new water points, types of water points (i.e. boreholes, gravity feds, protected springs, shallow wells), hygiene training plan (PHAST), policy on rehabilitating water points, community contracts, district responsibilities, sanitation plan, latrine slab promotion, etc. The document is really district driven and conceived and our real role is to just facilitate and take lots of notes. So basically with any government anywhere this process is taking time. So in between travel times, while in Lilongwe, we spend our time following up on central level issues and typing up the notes and plans from our meetings to be circulated before our next meeting (overall al lot of computer time).

Latrine in Construction


The hoped for near term outcome is a district coordination team that is more capable at creating and implanting a district water plan. In addition, to proving the concept if the government can effectively implement a rural water project and the key lessons that will make this possible.

So basically this is what I have been up to – ‘trying to help the government of Malawi determine what their rural water project will be’. Overall a bit overwhelming at time and always open to some helpful advice or feedback so feel free to provide it if you have any thoughts.

Along with all this formal work with the government there is also a bit of informal work within the CF by trying to push development thinking and some inter-team dynamics.

Hope this helps as a bit of a background.

Take Care and have a great Christmas,


Friday, October 20, 2006

London Free Press Article

Thought I'd throw this article up that I co-wrote with fellow EWBer and UWO Alumus Luke Brown on Bill C-293, published on Saturday, September 16, 2006 in the London Free Press. I must give much credit to Luke for doing most of the work on the article and I look forward to what this bill will mean for Canadian ODA and those affected overseas.


The promise-keepers: Making Canada accountable to the world’s poor
By: Luke Brown and Jason Teixeira

There’s a local bar in the city of Tamale, Ghana, West Africa. Its name is Point 7. To many people here, it’s a place to relax with friends over a local Ghanaian brew. To Canadians in Tamale, it’s a stark reminder of one of our major failures on the international stage.

In 1969, a commission led by Lester B. Pearson recommended a target for international aid: 0.7% of a country’s Gross National Income should go towards development aid. This standard was agreed upon by the United Nations’ General Assembly member countries: including Canada.

Yet Canada never met this obligation. Despite being the nation from which the goal was born--a country (ostensibly) passionately dedicated to the global good--we currently contribute a mediocre 0.34% of our GNI to the world’s poor.

However, it’s not too late for us to partially redeem ourselves by demonstrating a commitment to the world’s developing nations. This can be done through new legislation that is making its way through parliament: legislation that, while not boosting our aid, would at least make it more effective.

Bill C-293 (the Development Assistance Accountability Act) is a private member’s bill put forth by Liberal Member of Parliament John McKay, and will go to its second reading in parliament early this fall. This would mean making a few key changes to the way Canada helps other countries on their path to development.

First of all, the bill would enshrine in law that the raison d’être of our development aid is to help the world’s poor get a leg up on the development ladder.

Second, a petition system would let citizens of beneficiary communities comment on the effectiveness of the money we’re sending overseas. This means that if the aid is not truly geared towards poverty reduction, or if it’s not taking into account the perspectives of the poor, or if it’s not in line with Canada’s human rights obligations, then we’ll be sure to hear about it.

And who better to help keep our government accountable in aid spending than the people who are receiving the aid itself? Who better to let us know whether or not our dollars are actually having an impact?

Development efforts don’t always benefit everyone. As volunteers on the ground in Africa, we’ve seen first-hand the frustrations that people here can have with these projects. For instance, Helen Ayaro, a water and sanitation officer in northern Ghana, describes the effects of a dam project in neighbouring Burkina Faso. The Bagre Dam was constructed to allow farmers in Burkina Faso to irrigate their land when the rains are sparse.

“Authorities (in Burkina Faso) are in charge of opening and closing the dam. When they open the dam it can cause flooding along the White Volta River, which destroys crops and damages communities in northern Ghana.” This dam, designed to help some people work their way out of poverty in Burkina Faso, has had the opposite effect on other people in Ghana.

She laments that Ghanaians have little voice in preventing such problems from happening, whether the problem originates in another country, or in their own backyard. While the Bagre Dam wasn’t funded by Canadian money, we can still take a valuable lesson away from it to apply to the projects that we do fund. As Helen says: “We need to know, was what they brought to your community actually what you needed, or was it against your will? Is it making an impact, or is it violating your rights?”

Bill C-293 is in the spirit of empowerment: it gives a voice to, and ensures opportunity for those who need it, helping to pave the road towards independence.

"We may need some help and inputs to get started but we are doing it for ourselves now,” says Dorothy Kendulo, as she prepares her fields to grow mustard in rural Malawi, in southern Africa. “We can use technical advice and working together we can do things for ourselves - we are working."

We believe Canadians are a benevolent people. Ask your government to represent this on the global stage. Rather than making empty promises and half-hearted commitments, let’s prove to the world that we truly do care.

We may be far from reaching the 0.7% pledge, but we can still demonstrate that our moral duty to the world’s poor isn’t just an empty promise. Let’s make sure that Bill C-293 is passed. For more information, and to encourage your local Member of Parliament to vote for positive change in Canada’s role on the global playing field, visit

Luke Brown and Jason Teixeira are both Londoners and graduates from UWO’s Engineering program, and are now volunteering through Engineers Without Borders in Ghana and Malawi, respectively.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Rain has finally arrived…the silence is broken…

Like the sudden clap of thunder last Sunday that signalled the beginning of the rains to come this is the sudden beginning to a long overdue update and blog.

Maybe I needed the rains to shake off the veil of silence that has crept in since I arrived here in Malawi (although truthfully it didn’t rain much). Albeit unintentional I must apologize for my long silence and will try my best to keep updated in the coming months. I won’t promise to keep up with the same frequency as the rains as I have no idea what the rainy season will have in store and don’t want to get too swamped (no pun intended).

As a start I’ll try and set a bit of context…

I have no idea whom said it and despite the risk of sounding too cliché and painting the whole continent with one wide brush I must agree that ‘Africa gets into your blood’. From the moment I stepped off the continent following my volunteer placement with Engineers Without Borders in Ghana last year I have yearned to return. To return to the rhythm of the life, the music, the laughter, the pride, the humbleness, to return to learn, to grow, to share, to teach, to return to the rhythm this continent seems to posses but most importantly to return to fighting the biggest and most unacceptable injustice in the world, extreme poverty. It is slightly strange to me and not wanting to lump over 50 unique and individual nations into one basket I’ll leave it at this – I needed to come back.

I have once again returned as an Engineers Without Borders Canada volunteer but this time as a long term volunteer and will be based in Malawi for about a year. I arrived in Malawi on June 30th, 2006 and am working with the William J. Clinton Foundation on a new project called the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative, a program that incorporates Education, Health Care, Water and Sanitation, and Agriculture. My role within the project will mainly be focused on the Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) sector building on the knowledge and experience that I have built up in Ghana.

For now I am based out of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, but our project is focused in three different districts – one in the north, central, and southern region (but more to follow on project specifics in a subsequent update). One of the best parts of this placement thus far is that my wife Erin has been able to join me and she is now volunteering at a local primary school in our neighbourhood.

To find out more on Malawi check out the link to the right. But as a very brief summary: Malawi is a landlocked nation in southern Africa and is ranked as the 13th lowest country in the world according to the most recent Human Development Index. The life expectancy at birth is only 39 years old. It is estimated that 1 in 7 Malawians is infected with HIV/AIDS and as a result of this, chronic poverty, and preventable diseases such as Malaria and TB there is also a very high orphan population. The economy is also predominately agriculturally based, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Although these are stark and cut and dry facts I know there is more than the numbers represent and if there is one thing that I have learned from my experience within EWB it is to ask questions, to have an open mind, and be prepared to learn and this is exactly what I intend to do.

Malawi has also received a lot of international press recently as a result of a visit from Bill Clinton in July, the cancellation of $2.9 Billion USD of international debt at the end of August, and most recently a visit from Madonna. But what I wished we were getting press on was the countless farmers, individuals, women, and entrepreneurs that are fighting for themselves to break the cycle of poverty. Although I have been here for a short time I have already met many individuals that would make great role models and front cover pieces of any newspaper anywhere in the world. What I feel we need most in term of press are these types of reports and how we can all work together in breaking this cycle.

If you would like to be emailed every time I update my blog, send me a quick note and I'll make that happen. Also, check out some of the links to the right- you can find out more on Malawi, EWB, and the current weather where I'm staying.

Thanks to everyone for your support and contact and I’ll send out another update soon.

Take Care,