We wrote The Leopard Tree in 2007 to inspire people to look for ways to help people who face great challenges. We have had almost 30,000 downloads of the book through Amazon’s Select Program using occasional FREE days as a promotional tool. Although these free days generate no immediate revenue, we always hope those who take advantage of the free download will invite their friends to buy a book at the reasonable price of $2.99 for the e-book or $9.99 for a hard copy. Since the book was published, we have donated more than the book sales have produced to a program of the Museums of Malawi that inspires us.
The program began when museum educators Aaron Maluwa and Michael Gondwe developed the concept of taking it directly to rural villages to help people understand the need to address HIV/AIDS and malaria. The program uses the songs, dances and stories of their people to deliver life-saving messages. They call it the “Theater of Change,” an apt name for this passionate program. We visited the village of Chikwawa in 2009 with Aaron and Mike and watched villagers line up to be tested for HIV after hearing their inspirational messages. Our small donations over the years have helped cover the costs of gas, medical supplies, and other expenses involved in taking this program to rural Malawi. More importantly, the effects of the small amount of money we are able to provide has begun to multiply as awareness of this program has grown and others have been able to expand assistance.
If you ever wonder whether a small donation of time or money can make a difference, we can guarantee that it does, especially when it inspires others to do whatever they can. Although Mike has now retired from the museum, he is setting up a nonprofit organization to continue his work, while Aaron manages and expands the programming through Museums of Malawi. The dedication of these gentlemen in helping others is unwavering and we will continue to find ways to support them and encourage others to do the same.
On our 2009 trip, we took along a SkyHydrant we purchased through the SkyJuice program in Australia. This simple piece of equipment helps remote communities establish a clean drinking water supply by using reverse osmosis filtration with a Siemens system. We hope it will become a prototype project that can be duplicated in other communities with additional support. Aaron just sent us a report of the installation in which he says:
BRIEF REPORT ON THE INSTALLATION OF WATER HYDRANT/FILTER IN AARON’S VILLAGE
It was during the course of the continued assistance by National Association of Interpretation (NAI) under the leadership of Professor Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu that after their visit to Malawi three years ago that they saw people drinking from wells, rivers, borehole among other that they felt so bad with many people drinking unsafe water leading to the spread of many diseases such as diorrhoea, dysentery cholera among others that the two asked if they could help my family/village with Water Hydrant/Filter so that my community may have safe drinking water.
Tim and Lisa bought the machine in Australia at a cost of $2300 plus shipping. They also paid for duty clearing here in Malawi. I processed the clearing and the machine was taken home for installation.
Being the first of its kind, the Plumbers from Blantyre Water Board were to install it in my village which is about 500 km away from Blantyre where I work.
Though the installation work was simple, about 7 plumbers did not think they could install it hence it took a long time to install it.
It was in September this year that two plumbers who have just graduated from the University agreed to do it and they did it very well. It took them two days to install it.
The installation of the life saving machine which is easy to operate and care has changed people’s lives. They drink safe and clean water now from the three taps installed. Pumping is easy and putting chlorine is easy too. People are very happy with the donation and they owe it to the wonderful people in the name of Tim and Lisa.
I would like to personally thank both Tim and Lisa for your support, which has made a huge difference. The Hydrant is serving not only people in my village but many villages too. There is no single borehole or tap in the communities around my village. Many people have been drinking from the wells since they were born. The Hydrant is unique and attracts more people to come and fetch water, something that makes me very happy.
Tim and Lisa, you have your names written: Donated by Tim and Lisa of USA. Everyone Who comes reads it as my acknowledgement. THANK, (ZIKOMO) in my language.
You can find other worthy programs helping people in Africa at “What Can I Do To Help” on our book website, http://theleopardtree.com.
Zikomo (thanks) Aaron and Mike for being the good people of change in your communities.
– Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu