Archive for November, 2013


Bill Gates Manifesto

November 19th, 2013

Perhaps it’s not really the thing to attribute a manifesto to someone else before they’ve claimed it themselves. But this is graphic speaks volumes about Bill Gates and his energetic engagement with issues in the developing world. It was with an inspiring essay of his from Wired which begins:

“I am a little obsessed with fertilizer. I mean I’m fascinated with its role, not with using it. I go to meetings where it’s a serious topic of conversation. I read books about its benefits and the problems with overusing it. It’s the kind of topic I have to remind myself not to talk about too much at cocktail parties, since most people don’t find it as interesting as I do.”

Bill Gates Manifesto I Believe

It’s personal: ALK’s Notes from Malawi

November 15th, 2013

It’s Personal    

Y’know…. I do believe “The clothes maketh the man”
If you live in the same filthy, flea infested, foul smelling clothes – every day - then how do you walk tall?
If your baby is a mirror of shabby polyester or luminous orange nylon that used to belong to a child’s doll in the West, how do you feel about yourself?
If you are barefoot or your shoes are handmade from the rubber car tyres, how do you feel when you go to the big city and meet your well-to-do relatives? My bet is, you feel low.

Yesterday, I watched as 3 gardeners from the clinic went shopping for work clothes. They went into the store as – to be honest – immaculately clean, but fairly raggy souls. They nipped around the back of a container and changed into the new gear. They paraded for the entire clinic. They beamed. And laughed. And I am sure they were blushing… And we all basked in their moment. It was a really big moment. Infectious.

The uniforms must have gone straight to their head. I’ve spent the last few weeks pushing the lads for new ideas with little success – today they are on fire.
In one day, these guys have cleared the site for food, sourced some good manure and cleaned their tools. They are back in business.

I went on a home visit last year with the Ndi Moyo team, way into the bush. A 17-year boy with a terminal brain tumour. His hut was completely bare.
Except for his suit and shirt hanging on a hook from the grass roof. Nothing else at all.
Nothing….

I gave a soldier a lift today. They are all a little tense as they are being deployed to DR Congo to fight against rebels.
Asked him why he joined up. He explained. ”No work. No money. I get food and clothes. Food’s OK but they treat me well”
And he showed me his boots. Proper leather army boots.
Worth signing up for the minimum –
15 years…..

It might not be much but if you pay attention you can see how women care about their appearance when they come to the clinic.
A new wig here. A new (old) handbag there. A new (old) sarong.
A sparkly top. Some paper beads in their hair. As I said; not much. Enough.

Young boys from the local villages, in their newly donated non-matching soccer kit, thrash their raggy opponents. Every time.

I love Malawi. I love the dust, the sun, and the smell. For me Africa is very personal.

In truth - Africa in all its disparate forms is not a destination - it’s a state of mind.

ALK - 14.11.13

Malawian Soldiers

Posted in malawi | 6801 Comments »

Remembering those who passed at Ndi Moyo

November 14th, 2013

Remembering those who passed at Ndi Moyo

Posted in malawi | 4859 Comments »

Born To Live: ALK’s Notes from Malawi

November 12th, 2013

Born to Live.

Malawian mum & child

What makes Malawian women so cool?  They have a sort of easy,  graceful thing.

Talked to some of our village women this week to see if I can pick up tips.

A couple of afternoons this week, if you had driven pass the steps at Lahore Cafe, you would have seen us rolling around laughing. Putting their Christianity to one side – these ladies are very superstitious.

A couple of good ones…

If you dream of BANANAS – then it is likely you will marry somebody of very poor character.
If you dare to dream of yourself in a BAR and mixing drinks it means a desire to cover your actions.
For a man to dream of GIRLS is a warning for him to examine his sexual desires.
If you are unlucky to dream of wearing a dirty HAT that predicts damage and dishonour.
One of my favourites ..  If you dream of your NEIGHBOUR, it shows much time will be wasted in idle gossip.
And one more .. to dream of SCHOOL indicates distinction in some mental line. Powerful stuff.

Consider their ancestors at the lake 2000 yrs ago. The first were a pigmy dwarf tribe called Akafula. They were hunted out by the Makaranga  (Bantu),  who ate everything in their path - humans, oxen, buffalo, snakes and dogs.  In those days women represented a pension for her husband. It is true that a pension died with its recipient – widows were often buried alive with their dead husbands.

They dress up in hats on Sundays and go to Church. Nice and social.

But they really do believe in the Gule Wan Kule. He’s a man/spirit that always  frightens the living life out of me. Driving along the M1 (seriously)  – he will pop out of the bushes. Black feathers on his head. War paint or a mask on his face. Grass or leaves on his body  (too afraid to look) brandishing a couple of chickens by their feet. Feathers flying. Jesus wept! (O).

Not good.

Back to my new friends…..

Here’s the thing. They don’t seem to have an understanding of anger or privacy. They never complain. Of poverty, rape, beatings, theft, death.

All the women are  single – dealing with brutal life bricks.

Day after day. Year after year.

Why so silent? Why no tears? Where do Malawian women put their grief? Where do they put their fears? Or hopes?

Why are they not like us?

I asked an African woman from Zimbabwe.

Gently, she explained  “African women are born to die. Western women are born to live”

It’s just the way it is. It’s just the way it is.

ALK - 11/11/13 

Posted in malawi | 5439 Comments »

Thanks to cloud infrastructure specialists, Another 9 for the laptop

November 11th, 2013

It’s amazing how generous people are with their time, money, expertise and equipment. Our heartfelt thanks goes to John O’Brien of Another 9 who very kindly donated a laptop to our Field Manager, Pindani Mfiti. This will make a huge difference to operations from here, and for someone as meticulous as Pindani, a real boon. And so we really appreciate it. Here’s the honorary first boot-up. #start

.Pindani at Laptop

Posted in Thanks | 6903 Comments »