We are now engaged in the collection and sorting of books to establish approximately a dozen libraries in Northern Malawi. Again, working with expatriates and friends of Malawi, we have collaboratively set up a network of libraries, somewhat similar to those we have introduced into the West Nile region in Uganda.
It is exciting to be working in Malawi for so many reasons. There are new people to meet and a new landscape. We can also move in Malawi with a feeling that we have learned many lessons already and that we have shown that sustainable community driven libraries can be established.
Malawi is a remarkable country in so many ways—abounding in beauty and natural wonder and yet beset with extraordinary challenges to its development. From our work so far, however, we know that the most important ingredient—people who want to see change and improvement are there, and we are very anxious to keep moving forward.
We anticipate organizing more trips to Malawi in the near future to help deliver and organize additional libraries and continue to support the existing ones.
The Warm Heart of Africa
Malawi is roughly the size of the state of Pennsylvania in the United States and is one of the most densely populated and poorest countries in the world. The combination of poverty and lack of critical resources exacts a great toll on the daily lives of the majority of the population. The main occupation by far is subsistence agriculture and many children are forced to discontinue their education in order to do farming, menial work, be married off or just plain unemployed. Those children and adults that do manage to acquire reading and writing skills often run the risk of losing those skills and falling into quasi-illiteracy due to the lack of access to books and regular, stimulating reading.
On the other hand, Malawi has never experienced a civil war or military style rule since independence from Great Britain in 1964. This is a remarkable feat when compared to the rest of Africa as only one other African nation can claim a similar record – Botswana. Malawi over the decades has also welcomed millions of refugees from wars and strife in neighboring countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc. This gives an indication of the peace loving, co-operative and generous nature of the various peoples and ethnic groups that make up the nation of Malawi.
Being a non-oil producing and landlocked country, Malawi has to depend on import and export routes through other nations such as Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa in order to trade and do business on an international level. The histories of economic instability and political posturing in the region have had a direct impact on economic development in Malawi which going forward is now hopefully a thing of the past.
Malawi has some extraordinary gardens and landscaping due to the fertile soil and the natural agricultural/horticultural skill and prowess of a lot of Malawians.
Why the Northern Region of Malawi?
Good Steward Global Initiative decided to focus on the this part of Malawi to begin with due to the fact that this has been a neglected region in terms of development for various reasons over the decades. You have probably heard or read about many wonderful organizations doing great work in Malawi but the reality is that most of these are based within at most a couple hours commute from the large urban centers of Blantyre and Lilongwe in the Southern and Central regions of Malawi respectively. There are several reasons why this has been the case for a long time but it is important to note the resilience and determination of the people of northern Malawi. Despite the challenges brought on by poverty, low literacy rates and lack of critical resources, the Northern region produces an extraordinary abundance and variety of food crop that feed not only Malawians but also Tanzanians, Zambians and Mozambicans too. In addition, the people of the north are known for their amazing horticultural skills. Increased literacy in this region combined with the determination and hard work ingrained within the people can transform Northern Malawi.
Recent discoveries of precious stones and the ongoing oil exploration activities in northern Malawi could bode well for the economy of the region, if the locals are well educated and literate enough to stand up for their rights and reap the positive benefits of such developments. History shows us that mineral rich but impoverished communities around the world have often enriched those that live elsewhere but not themselves due to unchallenged exploitation.
Some examples of the highlands of northern Malawi
Some of Malawi's attractions
A video presentation that touches upon some (by no means all) of the attractions Malawi has to offer, some of the tourist accommodation on offer and even shows some of the beaches of the Nkhata Bay area, where GSGI will be building libraries.
It is about 26 minutes long and well worth the watch :-)
Malawi is number 5 on Lonely Planet's recommendation of top 10 countries to visit in 2014 and number 1 on HuffPost Travel's top emerging travel hotspots for 2015:
Northern Region Malawi Some Suggestions Of Things To Do:
Chelinda Lodge, a luxury safari lodge in Nyika National Park:
Chilenda Lodge: (http://www.malawitourism.com/pages/lodges/lodge.asp?LodgeID=65)
Chinteche Inn on northern Lake Malawi:
Chinteche Inn: (http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/camps/chintheche-inn)
Best place in the whole country to stay on Lake Malawi - located on the southernmost tip of the lake:
Club Makokola near Mangochi:
Upon arrival or departure from the capital city Lilongwe, treat yourself to a stay at:
Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe:
Best and highly recommended travel guide on Malawi - Bradt Travel Guide:
Malawi cannot wait to welcome you - Zikomo!