Sunday, April 29, 2007


The following are some questions I have been asked

Where is Malawi?
Malawi is in south east Africa. It borders with Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia.

Where in Malawi will you be?
I will be working in a small town called Bwanje. It is hard to find on many maps (you wont find it on google maps). The closest city is Nitcheu, which is about 30km south west of Bwanje.

Will you have electricity or running water?
No, I will not have either of these things were I am living, though some JFs will. The town has a hand pump at the school for water, and the organisation I will be working for has a generator for their office.

How will you communicate with people in your host community?
The majority of people in Malawi speak English. A large number of people also speak Chichewa, which I will be attempting to learn.

How will you communicate back home?
Someone from BERDO goes into Nitcheu twice a week. I can go there to write emails and pick up supplies.

How many fellow EWB volunteers will you be working with?
None. I will be the only EWB volunteer in the village, but there are other volunteers in the country. We have a big get together half way through the summer.

Are you worried about getting AIDS?
Though Malawi does have a large portion of the population affected with HIV, transmission is fairly easy to avoid. Things like Malaria are a much greater threat. I will be taking anti-malaria medication, and can get medical attention if needed.

Will it be really hot there?
It will be warm and some days will be hot, but it is winter/dry season in Malawi during the Canadian summer. I have heard that the temperature gets as low as 10 degreesCelsius at night.

What kind of animals are in Malawi
Malawi has a lot of wildlife that is commonly associated with Africa, including elephants, hippos, zebras, leopards, loins, and monkeys.

What will you be doing?
I will be working with the NGO BERDO. From what I have bee told so far, I will be working with the agriculture and forestry division to access the effectiveness of their current programs. I will also be gaining insight intorural livelihoods in Malawi to bring back to Canada and share with my ewb chapter in Guelph.

Why do you want to do this?
There are many reasons, but the two largest ones are to be a part of positive change in the world, and for my own self development.

When will you be coming home?
I finish post training on Aug. 26th.

Friday, April 13, 2007

There are a number of reasons I created this blog. One is to allow friends and family to find out what I am doing over the summer. Another is to give people an idea of what the EWB junior fellowship program is all about. And of course, to raise awareness about livelihoods and development issues in Malawi.

Currently I am involved in pre-departure preparation. EWB goes to great lengths to make sure their volunteers feel prepared and supported. We have had to cover an number of topics over the last few months including:

Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Culture Shock
The Role of Westerners
Understanding Rural Livelihoods
Understanding the Development Sector
Root Causes of Poverty

The preparation includes reading articles, writing posts, conducting interviews, reading books, talking with past volunteers, visiting websites, and spending time on self introspection.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Though I have known that I was going to Malawi with Engineers Without Borders for a few months now, I just today receieved the details of my placement. The host organisation which I will be working with is the Bwanje Environmental and Rural Development Organization (BERDO).

BERDO is a small community based non-governmental organization that is focussing on improving livelihoods through small-scale agriculture and food security projects, and natural resource management. The organization works mainly on issues identified by the community, which currently are:

1) Improvement of hygiene and environmental sanitation,

2) Gender and Education – School management committees to empower teachers, parents, students to increase school enrolment,

3) Agriculture: Irrigation, Agro-forestry, Soil and Water Management, Crop diversification, Market research, Food processing – Baking and processing cooking oil from groundnuts.

Within the organisation I will specifically be working on the smallholder agriculture/food security component of the project.

Team Malawi 2007

Team Malawi 2007
The Malawi team meets for the first time in Calgary during the EWB National Conference