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.
As part of the Breakfast Club, Thursdays are “class days”. Depending on whether I get home from work late, it usually runs from 4:30 to 6:00 PM.
Using the whiteboard and stationery bought with FOMA funds, we do simple exercises like spelling, mathematics, IT and most recently, learning how to use a dictionary.
Yesterday’s exercise was translating Chichewa words into their English meaning, which we’ve done once before – see post. I began the exercise by writing a Chichewa word beginning with A, then B, then C. Then I went to help each kid individually.
Junior, one of the eldest kids, has learnt how to use the dictionary very quickly. He finished the first 3 words before anyone else. So I asked him to take over as teacher and write more Chichewa words on the whiteboard. Resuming from D etc through to Z.
When he completed this, he turned to me and said: “Finished!”
I sceptically looked at the whiteboard, saw only 25 words and replied: “Junior, how many letters are in the alphabet?”
Junior confidently responds: “No X… ” and then shows me with dictionary that there are indeed no words which begin with X in Chichewa!
Well done Junior!! 🙂
Junior, the teacher.