Chichewa word of the day: Wokonza sinki
As I search for a good, reliable plumber to do some odd jobs around my house in the UK, I remembered a funny story from my Malawi days; which seems like a distant memory now, regrettably.
As you do, when you need some plumbing work that you can’t do yourself done, I asked around for a good pumber in Lilongwe. Starting with the national staff at the VSO Malawi office. I was surprised to be greeted with blank, somewhat confused faces. I thought to myself: Are there no plumbers at all in Lilongwe?
But after a few tries, a colleague responded: Oh, a plum-ber!
Little did I know that it is pronounced like this 😀
All part of my experiential learning curve with Malawian culture and the phonetic Malawian English.
PS. My grandpa always encouraged me to write more about my Malawi experience. After a long hiatus, I will try to continue, and wrap this blog up for good properly one day. Until then, this is for you Ah Yia!
Chichewa word of the day: Mtengo
Just before I left Malawi, another volunteer, Catherine, moved into the other VSO house, 2 doors down from mine and Robin‘s place.
One of the very large trees in her garden has just been chopped down, Malawian style! Visit her blog post here.
Equipped only with a panga knife. Not even a rope.
That’s seriously high!
Scary to think that this was almost a year ago…
Back in June 2013, I attended The World Bank Data Literacy Bootcamp. It was a really eye-opening experience, where I learnt new skills like geocoding with Google Fusion Tables and met a lot of like-minded people who wanted to apply technology to their aid efforts. I also learnt a few funny words like “ideate“, which being reservedly British and all, I would never normally use!
Part of the #dbootcamp was dedicated to forming projects to tackle data related problems specific to Malawi. There was a $1000 seed grant for the winning project idea and pitch.
We formed a Healthcare sector team and brainstormed lots of ideas to tackle. Eventually deciding on starting up “Umoyo Scale” (Umoyo in Chichewa means health), which is a TripAdvisor like crowd-sourcing system to collect and share reviews of healthcare facilities. The main add-on is that Umoyo Scale would also be usable via SMS because most Malawians simply do not have access to the Internet.
There was stiff competition with lots of interesting ideas (see full list from our Hackpad) but we finished runner-up!
Unfortunately, due to work priorities and logistical difficulties to get the whole team together, we were not able to take this much further the submission of a concept paper. But it really was a great experience, which I hope inspired everyone to use data more creatively.
Before it fades further in my memory, I thought I’d share the ultra persuasive presentation we put together.