In early August I returned from one of the most incredible adventures I’ve ever been on. After spending a month in Malawi and experiencing the incredible culture and people who call the Warm Heart of Africa home, I knew that I’d have to find a way to return. This, however, is not a post about my return. Not yet, anyway.
A few weeks ago I learned that my grad student Corey is going to be volunteering in Malawi for 6 months starting in January of 2017 to continue working with the Agricultural Research & Extension Trust (ARET). Specifically, he’s going to be heading to Lilongwe to work alongside the awesome folks at ARET that I worked with for a month this year, to develop the tools that they will need to help transition farmers from tobacco to other cash crops and produce. Essentially, Corey is going to begin the process of building the tools based on the framework that I helped develop with the ARET team.
Since Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with an extremely high level of food insecurity, Corey’s work has the potential of having a significant impact. For several decades the primary export of Malawi has been tobacco, but with public health programs reducing smoking habits in many countries, this pattern is changing. This is having, and will continue to have, a devastating effect on the economy, exacerbating the food security issue. Corey’s role will be to build new tools that will help ARET communicate with farmers across the country; bringing the knowledge and skills for growing new crops to the farmers working the field. The tools will also help collect and share other data so that farmers can be warned of changing weather conditions, pests, and public health issues.
Corey will be heading to Malawi through the Uniterra Program of WUSC and CECI, the same program that sent me. However, given the duration of Corey’s visit to Malawi, part of his mandate includes raising money to help offset some of the costs of travel. Specifically, he’s been asked to raise $1500. As of this post, he’s managed to raise a third of that. And so dear readers, I’m asking for your help. If you can, please donate by clicking here. And please share this post.
I’ve known Corey for 4 years now; first as an undergraduate student in my CIS3750 class, later as an undergraduate research assistant, and now as a graduate student. I’ve seen him offer his time and skills to help out the School of Computer Science, the University of Guelph, and the community at large. I’ve beamed with pride when he graduated with his Bachelors of Computer Science, and when he was awarded Guelph Mercury’s 40 Under 40 award, and when he won the Student Life’s Be The Change award. And I know I’m going to be incredibly proud when he finishes his Master’s degree. But right now, I’m proud and excited that he’s volunteering his time to embrace an adventure like none he’s ever experienced. I know he’s going to be amazing, and I can’t wait to see what he does with his time there.