Giving Back in Malawi

What do two Navy retired vets, a chef and a dentist have in common? Their love for giving back. Training a new generation of medical students, helping farmers boost production of existing crops, and introducing a new variation of crops while helping to educate the next generation of Malawian youth are just some of the projects these four have undertaken with the help of their friends and volunteers.

This month will be the eighth trip for our group from the U.S. to Malawi, lovingly known as the Warm Heart of Africa. In 2010 Robert Hampton, DDS and his wife Claudia Sansone, CCP, visited Lilongwe, Malawi with hopes of establishing a dental clinic at Daeyang Luke Hospital. During the next few trips, Rob would carry an entire dental clinic packed in boxes, suitcases, etc. and delivered the supplies and equipment to the hospital, while Claudia would visit the nearby village of Dothi to experience the local culture. Claudia sat down with chiefs of the village and inquired as to what they needed the most. The response was a school.

Claudia and Rob returned back to Napa, California, and shared their love for Malawi with Rebecca and me, and once we heard of the work they were doing, we were hooked and United Village Transformation (Food is Life and Education is the Seed) was born.

Rebecca, Claudia and I encouraged the launch of a pre-school in a village that had no compulsory education. Dothi Village now has a 24'x30' school with three teachers, a children's garden, a large village garden, fruit orchard and a kitchen with Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cook stoves inspired by our friends at Ripple Africa, our team UVT volunteers made this happen.

Given only seven percent of the population has access to electricity and knowing sustainability is the key, the villagers have learned to make soap, menstrual pads and solar cooking, using the sun as its fuel. The children are joyous with the opportunity to learn. We have only just begun!