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Distributing mosquito nets in Malawi

Day: 171

KLMS: 25,655

Firstly, thank you so much to everyone who has donated to Against Malaria Foundation, and sorry it has taken so long to post! We ended up raising over $1,200 which funded over 400 nets! It was a great feeling to join the distribution team in Balaka and see all the nets we’d funded with your kind donations. We were only able to join the distribution for a short time, but what we saw in that time was so impressive and reaffirmed why we chose to support Against Malaria Foundation – we can promise you, your donations have gone to an extremely important and valuable cause.

The NGO debate is a big one in Africa, just how effective is aid relief and does it do more harm than good? To be honest, we’d become quite sceptical having seen a number of poorly implemented projects, resulting in either huge amounts wastage or harmful impacts on local economies so we were keen to see what the secret was to AMF’s success.

Firstly, the AMF select a local distribution partner, in this case Concern Universal, harnessing their local knowledge to better understand the needs of the local people as well as being able to form strong relationships with the different villages,  particularly their chiefs who were the key to ensuring the successful continuation of the project post-distribution. Six months prior to the distribution,   a pre-registration phase is completed whereby each villager must register themselves and include details of how many people are in their household and how many sleeping spaces they have. Based on this information the distribution team are able to create a database for each village and allocate the correct number of nets.

On distribution day, we met with the team early and drove out to a remote village in the Balaka district. By 8am the mercury was already in the late 20’s, it was going to be a sweltering day! By the time we’d arrived, villagers from the surrounding area were already waiting for us, it was time to get the show on the road! Firstly the villagers were given talks about Malaria awareness from a local health officer, what it is, how to prevent it and why the nets are so important. Demonstrations were then given, to show how the net needs to be installed and villagers then had a chance to discuss any issues or questions. The educational part is vital to ensure that they understand why they are receiving nets and deter them from mis-using the nets for fishing, clothing or protecting crops.

Demonstrating how the nets need to be hung

Demonstrating how the nets need to be hung

The distribution process itself ran very smoothly and very quickly, despite there being five different villages and over 1300 nets distributed in one day (and this was only a small pilot to check that the process was working!) We took the nets  out of their packets (to prevent them being re-sold) and the villagers were then called up in small groups to collect their nets providing a signature or finger print to confirm they have collected it all under the watchful eye of the village chief to ensure people were, who they say they were.

Getting the nets ready for distributing

Getting the nets ready for distributing

The nets all ready to go

The nets all ready to go

All nets provided by Against Malaria Foundation

All nets provided by Against Malaria Foundation

Villagers provide signatures using finger prints

Villagers provide signatures using finger prints

We were so impressed with the efficiency of the distribution and how well the key project managers Nelson, Chimwemwe and Hazel had organised everything – the work they’re doing here is outstanding and their results are proof of this – over 80%  of nets are still installed 6months later and in some areas they are reporting over 50% drop in malaria rates.

So thank you again to everyone who donated to this very worthy cause, you’ll soon be able to see photos of the net distribution against your donations on our fundraising page as confirmation the nets you funded have been successfully distributed. And of course a huge thank you to everyone at Against Malaria Foundation and Concern Universal for allowing us the opportunity to come and work with you!

And of course, if you haven’t donated yet, there’s still plenty more nets needed across Africa! You can still donate to our fundraising page http://www.AgainstMalaria.com/morgansafari

Busy handing out nets

Busy handing out nets

The village chiefs watch closely over proceedings

The village chief (RHS) watches closely over proceedings

Happy Villager with all her nets

Happy Villager with all her nets

Richard with Concern Universal Project Managers, Nelson and Chimwemwe

Richard with Concern Universal Project Managers, Nelson and Chimwemwe

The whole Universal Concern team

The whole Concern Universal team

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Help us raise money for Against Malaria Foundation

So here we are in Balaka, Malawi, taking time out of our travels to lend a hand to our chosen charity, Against Malaria Foundation as they begin their next mosquito net distribution. As part of our travels, we were keen to find a way of giving something back and helping out where we could. We chose to support Against Malaria Foundation, due to its simple but very effective methods of protecting people against Malaria through the distribution of mosquito nets. Every net is carefully logged and allocated to heads of households who have registered to receive a net. The nets are then taken by distribution teams to the villages to install the nets correctly and educate people about Malaria prevention. We’re so pleased to have the opportunity to come and help out, but also to see the charity in action.

Through our fundraising page we have already raised over $1,000, which is 326 nets! However, as with all charitable efforts, we would love to raise more! So if you’ve been enjoying following our adventures, it would be great if you could show your support and take a moment to make a donation, every net counts! Just click the link below!

http://www.againstmalaria.com/morgansafari

The most effective means of prevention of Malaria is sleeping under a mosquito net Specifically a Long-Lasting Insecticide treated Net (LLIN)

Each net costs $4/€3/£2.50
Malaria kills more than one million people every year and over half a billion fall ill:
70% of the deaths are children under 5
Malaria is the world’s single largest killer of pregnant women
90% of the deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa
Malaria is totally preventable and treatable. Nobody need die. Prevention is better than treatment.

.

Malawi – The Warm Heart of Africa

Day: 165

KLMS: 25,155

Despite being one of the poorest African countries, Malawi is known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’ and also ‘Africa for beginners’ due to the laid back and peaceful people. However, our first 24hours in Malawi, was not quite the ‘Warm heart’ we were expecting! The border crossing at Chipata was easy enough, however we knew we’d have to face the necessary evil of our first money exchange on the border as we needed to change remaining Zambian Kwacha into Malawian Kwacha. Having read numerous accounts of the money changing scams on borders, we went into our first negotiations feeling prepared. We were only changing a small amount, but still we were both determined not to fall for their tricks. Having already established the correct exchange rate and a number that we wanted for our Zambian Kwacha we soon entered into negotiations with one of the money changers. Gradually he was joined by more friends and soon there was a group round us. The negotiations were frenetic but we finally managed to agree the amount, a bit too easily as it would happen, as money was counted and went back and forth the well-practiced money changers had soon confused the situation enough for us not to realise that we were being completely ripped off. By the time we’d re-counted the money to check that we had the right amount, the money changers had scarpered. We lost $17, Bastards!

We headed into Lilongwe and found a camp in the middle of town, both feeling tired and furious about being ripped off a big argument erupted as to who was to blame and how we needed to handle it the next time. A pointless exercise, but from time to time when tensions are running high, being confined in a box together is not a good thing. But as with all dark times, there are silver linings and as a peace offering, the next morning Richard removed the beard! It’s fair to say, that the gesture and hair-free face made things instantly better again.

Friends again we set off into town to stock up on supplies and parts for Kylie before hitting Lake Malawi. We had 4 jobs we needed to do but after about an hour in heavy, chaotic traffic we had managed to achieve nothing. Getting frustrated with the traffic, Rich decided to turn-around and try another road but as we completed the U-turn, a policeman flagged us down saying we’d just committed an offence of ‘careless driving’ and must pay a fine of 3,000 Malawian Kwacha or $10USD.  The day was not getting any better. We decided it would be best to try and get out of the main centre and try our luck further out, as the traffic was just too much. We headed for the main Lilongwe bridge that separates the two halves of the city only to be confronted with buses and cars being driven erratically towards us with all the drivers tooting and shooting. Needless to say we couldn’t work out what was going on. Soon the locals on the side of the road were yelling at us to turn around also. It was total chaos as we did another u-turn, this time across 4 lanes of traffic, all the cars and vans beeping and trying to force their way round. We had to drive back the way we had come, so we took a side road and parked up. No one seemed to know what was causing the traffic chaos, so we decided to just get the supplies we could and leave as soon as possible. Rich jumped out and left me in the car while he went off to sort out a sim card, he’d been gone about 15mins when from the end of the street the sound of a huge crowd began to grow. I got out of the car to try and see what was happening, but couldn’t see anything, except the noise was getting louder and louder and closer and closer. The Indian shopkeepers in front of me suddenly started to close up their shops, turning off the lights, pulling the shutters across the windows and grilles down over the door. My heart started to pound as I realised that something bad was happening, I shouted to the shopkeepers, to tell me what was happening. ‘The vendors are coming Mam, get back in your car’. As I looked back down the street I can only liken it to the moment in the Lion King, when Simba the lion cub, all alone in the valley looks up to see the herd of Wildebeest coming towards him. My jaw hit the floor and eyes were as wide as saucers, as hundreds of  bare-chested men brandishing sticks and throwing rocks came running round the corner towards us. I was in a full scale Riot! This was a sight a never hope to see again.

Feeling like a sitting duck in my foreign car I quickly grabbed what I could and ran after the Indians. ‘I’m not staying in the car, I’m coming with you!’ We piled down a small alleyway, the Indians saying we could escape to their flat above the shops if we needed to. Richard was nowhere to be seen.   It was probably the most frightening few moments of my life as we watched the carnage unfold in front of us. Fortunately the focus for the men seemed to be the next street over, so as they levelled with us, they turned off again, leaving us all breathing a huge sigh of relief. Rich, who had been down the road in the Telco shop, had had to force his way out of the shop after they’d barricaded him in. Rich was worried about me and came running towards us alongside the tail end of the mob. Despite being the only 6’ 6” white man on the street he somehow managed to get back to me without drawing too much attention. It was such a relief to be back together again, and we decided to make a break for it. We jumped into Kylie just as the mob backtracked down the side street towards us. As we sped off we dodged rocks and other missiles hurled at the car, which fortunately missed, we didn’t stop until we were far out of the city. So what had it all been about? Apparently the Government seem to have an ongoing battle with illegal street vendors who clog up the main road out of town. Every 6 months or so, the army arrive to clear the vendors by burning their stalls. In retaliation a few days later, the vendors then riot through the city causing as much damage as possible. This time however, the main market stall holders were fighting back and it erupted into a huge street fight. All very unexpected for a country that is one of the most peaceful in Africa.

A photo of the riot from the local press

A photo of the riot from the local press

The army arrive to disperse the riot

The army arrive to disperse the riot

After the drama, we were very relieved to be on the road heading out of town and onto Cape Maclear where we have now been for the past 5 days. Lake Malawi is an impressive sight, it’s hard to believe it’s not the ocean. The water (off-shore) is the clearest I’ve ever seen, and the water is full of the most amazing colourful fish (cichlids). We’ve been out snorkelling and swimming by the islands, but unfortunately the water by the shoreline (apart from the areas in front of the lodges!) is filthy and full of litter, and if you wondered where all those charity donation clothes went after the Salvation army or Oxfam, it’s here in the lake! We’re staying at Fat Monkeys, which is right on the water’s edge and right next to the village. It’s been a real eye-opener being so close to village life, watching how people go about their daily lives on the shoreline, amazing to see a lake not just being used for leisure but for living. The shoreline is heaving with people bathing, washing clothes and pots, fishing, not to mention the chickens, ducks, goats and dogs that wander up and down. It is not a peaceful setting by any means, but we’ve met some great people and enjoyed being part of the hum-drum of village life. We’ve also officially qualified as ‘Muzungos’ for the first time on this trip, and anytime we talk a walk on the beach or into the village we are mobbed by children who just want to come and hold our hands or stroke our skin. We walked back the other day, with a child on each finger, it’s exhausting to go anywhere but it’s hard to say no to so many pairs of big brown eyes. They also love the camera and having their picture taken so they can see themselves on screen, most of my pictures generally turn into complete chaos as more and more children arrive, all trying to push to the front of the picture.

It’s been a great few days, so nice not to have to drive anywhere for awhile! But tomorrow we’re heading south to Balaka District to meet up with our charity, Against Malaria Foundation and spend a few days helping with net distribution. More on this in the next post!

Rich - the Pied Piper!

Rich – the Pied Piper!

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Local butcher - goat anyone?

Local butcher – goat anyone?

McDonalds!

McDonalds!

The busy shoreline

The busy shoreline

 

Sunset on the lake

Sunset on the lake

Feeding the Fish Eagles

Feeding the Fish Eagles

 

My buddies, Kevin and Samuel who became my faithful bodyguards!

My buddies, Kevin and Samuel who became my faithful bodyguards!

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Zambia

Day: 159

KLMS: 24,346

We clunked into Zambia for the second time, crossing through at Chirundu, the most hectic border yet. Trucks were backed up to 4km down the road and we had to aggressively drive our way through the complete chaos until we could get to the front of the line.  The actual immigration process were thankfully all very straightforward, apart from the fact Zambia was on a lunch break when we arrived, so we had to wait over an hour for them all to return and stamp us through. By the time we got through, we were also feeling pretty tired after such an intense morning and unlike Zambia we hadn’t had a lunch break! We drove on, but it wasn’t long before we hit heavy traffic and road works – the Chinese seem to be building roads everywhere in Africa, but at the moment none of them seem ready and so we spent hours crawling alongside the lovely smooth tarmac on the dirt tracks alongside them. As we slowed to walking pace we could hear gurgling coming from the fuel tank so pulled over to investigate. As Rich opened up the fuel cap, petrol came spurting out all over the place and the tank sounded like it was boiling! The auxiliary tank was over-pressurising and forcing fuel through the overflow to the injectors and recalculating back to the tank.  During this process the fuel was actually being heated up! Carrying 220 litres of boiling unleaded is a frightening position to be in and we were both convinced the car was about to blow up at any moment. What we now realise is that at the last fuel stop before the border, the attendant had overfilled both tanks right to the top. However, at that moment in time in the 43°C  heat, on the side of a manically busy and dusty road in Zambia we were sh*tting ourselves. We waited for the car to cool before heading off – me sitting with all our valuables on my lap in case we needed to make an emergency exit! It was turning out to be ‘one of those days’, we were only travelling 180km, but had already been on the road for 5hours. We continued our slow crawl in the heavy traffic, tormented by the clunking suspension and the boiling fuel situation! As we rounded the corner we could see about 10 BMW 1200GS motorbikes parked on the side of the road, all kitted out to the hilt and to our astonishment, there standing next to them was Charley Boorman! We pulled over, fear levels still high from expecting the car to blow up, we welcomed a chance to take our mind off things so stopped to say hi. It turns out that Charlie is now running guided bike tours through Africa so was able to give us some great tips for the journey ahead. It was a lovely interlude to our crappy day, to meet not only someone we truly admire and who’s journey was one of the first that really got us into the idea of travelling Africa ourselves, but he’s also genuinely lovely bloke!

Driving up to the Chirundu border

Driving up to the Chirundu border

Sophie and Charley B

Sophie and Charley B

 

After 9 hours we finally arrived at Eureka Camp, just south of Lusaka, having only driven 180km! Exhausted beyond belief we were so relieved to reached camp – the excess fuel now burnt, the tank seemed to have settled down and we would be able to get the shock looked at in the morning. As we began to put the tent up Rich looked at me and said he wasn’t feeling too good, so was going to head straight to bed. When the big guy doesn’t eat, there’s something wrong. Within an hour he was feverish, so I picked up our medical book and started to look up symptoms of Malaria. ‘High temperature’- check. ‘Flu-like achey symptoms’ – check. ‘Sweats’ – check. I was beginning to get worried. But if there’s one thing we’ve learnt on this trip it’s to ‘always go for the easy fixes first’, so  2 paracetamol , a bottle of water and a bucket of reassurance I hoped that would be enough to get through to the morning and assess it from there. Fortunately the next morning, Rich although feeling crappy had managed to sleep off whatever it was that had ambushed him the night before, so with him fixed, it was time to focus back on Kylie. Unbelievably, having totally replaced the shock absorbers and rubber mounting bushes in Kasane 2,000 klm previous the bush on the new rear right shock had completely worn through! Totally baffled by this we couldn’t believe that the 300klms of full-on corrugations to Mana Pools had killed  the bush completely. So with a recommendation from the campsite, we ventured off on a crazy drive into downtown Lusaka to get it repaired. Thankfully we had kept the old set of shocks and bushes so the old bush with 35,000 hard klms were reinstalled.

Shocking! LHS - Old bushes, RHS new ones!

Shocking! LHS – Old bushes, RHS new ones!

Lusaka was our first real big, crazy African city. Street vendors lining the streets, people walking up down traffic queues selling the oddest assortment of things from inner tubes, to belts, hats, fruit, some chap was even walking up down holding out puppies. It was crowded and frenetic but it wasn’t intimidating like we’d found Durban – but maybe we just a little more hardened to things now? We spent the morning with our mechanic, giving Kylie an oil change while we were there before heading off to a nearby shopping centre. I never thought I’d be excited to go a shopping centre, usually the most hellish places on earth, but having spent the last few months shopping in very basic places, with limited choices we were actually pretty excited to back in civilisation – heading straight for a burger restaurant and gorging on western food before hitting the biggest supermarket we’ve seen since Australia. It was a blissful air-conditioned afternoon!

Downtown Lusaka

Downtown Lusaka

We then began to make our way up to Chipata and South Luangwa National Park. A quick stop at another overlander favourite, Mama Rulas and onto Croc Valley camp just outside the park. South Luangwa has one of the highest densities of cats, so we were hopeful that we’d finally get to see some kitty-kat action! Croc Valley camp is set right on the banks of the Luangwa River, so we could still could sit and watch the hippos and elephants and the playful Vervet monkeys, which  I could watch for hours. They’re so cheeky, but hilarious to watch.  Unfortunately the elephants weren’t so pleasant, having discovered that cars=food, they’ve had a number of instances lately where the elephants have smashed cars trying to get to food inside the car. As a consequence we had to make sure we’d handed in all our food for it to be locked inside big concrete lockers in the main building, but it still didn’t make for a restful evening as the family of 4 came careering through the camp on the nightly 6pm raid! We all had to scarper, watching nervously from a distance as the elephants began to investigate Kylie, hoping that they weren’t going to smell any food remnants Fortunately they moved off without causing any damage, but when they returned during the night they still came sniffing round the tent again, and when you’re lying in your PJs with a 5tonne beast sniffing next to you it doesn’t half get your heart rate up!

Just sittin'. Vervets are so human-like

Just sittin’. Vervets are so human-like

Washing day in South Luangwa!

Washing day in South Luangwa!

The next day we were up at dawn and into the park and wasn’t long before we saw the line of cars stopped around a pride of lions. The lions being lions slept through the commotion of cars coming and going, but were so in awe that we just stopped and watched for over an hour. A pride of 21! We watched as the lionesses began to stalk a couple of lone zebras, before deciding the day had got to hot and retiring back to the shade. That evening we went on our first night safari which we really recommend as they know where to find the leopards. Our guide and tracker were amazing and by dusk he’d already found us a leopard, high up in the trees, fast asleep. As the sun set we stopped for beers on the river bank before heading back into the darkness of the park. Travelling in the open top landcruiser, the warm breeze in your hair, surrounded by the darkness of the African bush, your eyes become redundant so your hearing intensifies to the noises around you, it’s an amazing experience. The beam from the spotlight sweeps across the road ahead, and our tracker found us plenty of leopards, hippos, lions, Jannats (small leopard-like cats) and eerily the carcass of  a newly caught Impala in the tree, which the leopard must have abandoned only moments earlier. South Luangwa is a beautiful park, with well laid out tracks and now the road leading up to it has been tarred we’re sure it will become very popular. It’s possibly our best park of the trip so far.

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Lioness' ready for ambush

Lioness’ ready for ambush

We’ve only travelled through the bottom of Zambia, but what a fantastic place. Once again, we have been blown away by the warm welcome we have received and everywhere we drive children come running out to wave. It seems to be a very peaceful and stable country and it shows on the peoples happy faces – they don’t show the strain that we saw on those of the people of Zimbabwe. The other lovely thing about Zambia is that most people seem to have a bicycle, in Botswana it was donkeys, but in Zambia it’s bikes. It’s incredible to see how much they can load onto their bikes, whether it’s sacks of coal, wood, goats or even the lovely wife sitting side saddle on the back, whatever it is, it offers them freedom. Smiles and bicycles is certainly how I’ll remember Zambia.

 

Side-saddle wife

Side-saddle wife

 

Wide load!

Wide load!

 

How many bags of coal can you carry on your bike?

How many bags of coal can you carry on your bike?

 

 

 

Photos Page Update

We have managed to update the Photos page with hyperlinks to the Facebook photo albums for each country so far. You should be able to view these even without a Facebook account. Check it out…….PHOTOS PAGE

 

Thanks R&S.

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