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News & Updates

Malawi Trip, Entry 6

› Posted July 22, 2010

July 18th -20th | South Luangwa National Park, Zambia and Lilongwe, Malawi

Two days of safari rides into South Luangwa National Park provided many wonderful sightings of birds, mammals, and plants. Of the latter, the most interesting was probably the orchid that grows in trees where the seed has sprouted and taken root.

We saw many of the classic African animals to include two prides of lion, a leopard, hippo, impala, water buck, cape buffalo, crocodiles and much more. The bird life was also tremendous.

However, in terms of our project, we were able to deliver the specially built hand cycle designed and developed for Anastasia, a girl of 15 who is afflicted with polio while she also seems to have some other complications. She had to be lifted onto the seat then we adjusted it to make it easier for her to reach the foot rests. Through our driver, Sly, we learned that her first statement was that she wanted to go to church, and later said, “Grandma will be surprised.” Sly told us that she continued to demonstrate a great deal of happiness with the cycle, which her mother had to help her with.

Her uncle was also there and we talked about how she would need to practice in order to gain strength enough to power it herself. Both the mother and uncle promised to work with her to practice riding the cycle but they were also happy that Anastasia could now be transported without having to carry her. We left they with extra tires and tubes for the cycle along with a hand pump so they could keep the tires inflated properly.

Afterward, we drove to see Elizabeth who had received a cycle in 2007. We had seen Elizabeth last year when we visited her home and noted that she had clearly gained strength through use of the cycle.

Even though her progress had been note worthy, we did not anticipate the great change in her now. Due to the cycle, she had been able to return to school. That opportunity, in turn, had allowed her to learn to speak English to the point that she could communicate with us. Further, we found her at a shop where she now has a job—again, an outcome of the cycle as she is able to ride the 5 km to and from work on the weekends. Elizabeth remains in a room during the week but returns home on Sundays.

She has worked up a proposal for us to help her start raising chickens and she gave that proposal to us before our departure. She also has collected information and photos of others in the village who are also disabled in some way. Elizabeth had the collection of information, along with photos, of each of those people and presented them in a book for us to take home with the hope that we will be able to do something for them as well.

Later, we talked with Sly about starting a production facility in Mfuwe where there are plenty of people who have skills to produce devices we design. That plan is something we will have to work on through correspondence in the near future.

On the 20th, we made the long drive back to Lilongwe with Ben, our driver. The road, being long and dusty, provided good reason to shower and wash clothes once we arrived. We chose to go to Ali Baba’s for dinner; a favorite place for us and our children on past trips.