Timonene (hello...in Chitonga!:)
 
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Back in the saddle! The past two weeks were devoid of swimming, as work took me to both Prague and Lyon for Missler’s global conference. My orange RIPPLE jacket and Under Armor were packed and rivers and ponds scouted, though alas, tight work schedules and dwindling winter light made swimming un-impossibly’not. It would’ve been quite the delight too, 45-50 degree air temps…summertime. I did have some incredible runs through Prague and downtown Lyon however.

All of Missler’s global affiliates knew about Chicago and our ‘Polar Vortex’. Between that, the Chicago Bulls and Prague locals being fiercely loyal to Marian Hossa, Chicago has an international intrigue that rings proud to this Canadian ex-patriot.

Returning back to 8 degree weather last Thursday, it was relieving to see Sunday’s forecast of snow showers and a 28-degree high. Respecting Mother Nature and all her frigid ferocity is proving to be quite the challenge these days.

Gardner Yost, a fellow runner and swimmer, has joined me for a second week of Polar Vortex swimming; with our hardest challenge being where to find a suitable place to hop in. With big ice buildup along the lakefront, and safety being of chief concern (seriously), we had to look elsewhere. Having scouted up and down the lakefront, we decided on a harbor swim, as a dock recirculat’or (to limit ice buildup, and hence damage) had created an opening wide enough for a swim…and cannon balls.

Sunday’s weather of 28 degrees with a West wind blowing at 15mph, gave the wind a chill of about 10 degrees or so. And as normal, we ended our 5-miler by heading south to have the wind slightly at our back. Week 8 introduced a new element to the swimming endeavor, a dock. Vs. a gradual run-in at the lake’s side, we had the opportunity to do cannonballs before quickly exiting the chilly water. Videos are here!

Harking back to my time in Prague and in France, I was impressed people knew several facts about Chicago (freezing cold, Marian Hossa, the Bulls, etc.). In a RIPPLE Africa sense, most folks aren’t sure where Malawi is in Africa. I for one wasn’t sure before looking into volunteering in Africa. Thus, I thought a quick lesson on Malawi and its economic and political state would be useful to the readers (yes you).

Formerly Nyasaland, Malawi gained independence after being part of the Central African Federation in 1964. The now defunct state of bordering Rhodesia meant Malawi has a British influence with English being the country’s second language. Malawi did not become a country when Madonna adopted children here several years back!

Geographically, Malawi is located in one of the world’s most beautiful, untouched areas, the Great Rift Valley. Of the 3 primary lakes comprising this valley, Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi, are all vital to a population that lives off fishing and arable farm land.

Lake Malawi is comparable in size in to Lake Michigan. Being 365 miles long and 52 miles wide (at its widest) it is known as the calendar lake.

RIPPLE Africa is located right on the lake about 350miles NE of the country’s capital, Lilongwe (LLW). You wanna talk long bus ride…sweet sarsaparilla!

Economically, the country is very much limited in its export market, being landlocked without any meaningful transportation infrastructure. Along with gas shortages and a challenging currency valuation model (devalued in 2013, much to people’s relief) and a dependence on foreign-aid, Malawi is not unlike most 3rd world African countries.

HIV/AIDS also affects much of the population as does malnutrition and poor education standards. Sounds like a real bear to get anything done around here! Sometimes it is. But if resilience ever was defined by a people, Malawians would take the cake.

Malawi’s recent bout of dictator-like rule came to an abrupt end in 2012, when Bingu Mutharika passed away at age 78, after ruling for over 6 years. The governing body took this opportunity to change tact’s by swearing in Malawi’s first female president, Joyce Banda. Under a more democratic rule, her administration has been keen to stabilize relationships within the foreign aid community, provide a sounder economic infrastructure and have a more Pro-western approach to civil law.

There remains a charge in the air that people are not willing to sit back on their laurels, but are empowered with leading a better life.  RIPPLE Africa is a great example of a charity that understands the daily struggles and small nuances of issues that can be solved. One step at a time. Putting effort where it’s needed.

USA Donations Link

UK Donations Link



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10/03/2016 10:45am

350 miles is a long ride to swim but once per month I can afford a time. See ya!

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It was really cold outside. It's hard even to look on this photo.

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