Opportunity Links Canada with Malawi

At cbm Canada we believe all people have equal value. This means that when given opportunities for education and leadership and employment, people with disabilities have so much to offer their communities.

One man, who believed this whole-heartedly, was our friend Paul Hutcheson. A devout Christian and long-time advocate for persons with disabilities, Paul faithfully served on the cbm Board for many years.

Our hearts were broken when Paul passed away five years ago. Inspired by Paul’s passion for the development of people who have a disability, we created the Paul Hutcheson Scholarship Fund in his memory. The purpose of the fund is to open new opportunities for a person with a disability who lives in a country where there is extreme poverty.

Finally, we met James Banda, a young man who was working with our partners in Malawi. Once we got to know James, we knew he was the perfect candidate for Paul’s scholarship fund.

I have personally gotten to know James over the past two years. He doesn’t want pity. He doesn’t want to be inspirational to anyone.

James simply wants the opportunity to grow as an individual, to serve Christ, and to contribute to his Malawian community.

Here is a strong young man who is firm in his faith in God, confident in his own abilities, and is already creating opportunities for himself. With further training in accounting, James will become an even stronger leader in cbm’s partner in Malawi.

Listen to his story and think how many other James Banda’s are out there – waiting for their opportunity to serve God and their community. We’re sure Paul would be delighted with our choice for the scholarship in his name.


Remembering Mandela

Yesterday Nelson Mandela passed from this earth. I cannot imagine another person in my lifetime who made a greater impact on the world. The passion for justice; uncompromising drive for freedom; humility; forgiveness; modeling of respecting each person as an equal child of God – all in one person. Amazing. Whereas it is a loss to the world that he is gone, there is so much more to celebrate and take into our lives.

Mandela said:

“If I had my time over I would do the same again, so would any man who dares call himself a man.”

I can imagine that at this last thoughts on this earth Mandela could look and say with the Apostle Paul “I have run the good race….”. He did all he could do while here. It is a challenge to us all. I hope and pray that I can say the same thing.

The challenge for us all is what Mandela said in his book “Long Walk to Freedom”;

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Let us all remember this great man by living our lives and work in way that respects and enhances the freedom of all!


Game Changing Technology

On a recent trip to Malawi I noticed a young man in one of our projects with an amputated leg. He was using crutches. And I was surprised to find out that he did have a prosthetic leg, but it fit him so poorly he never used it.

It reminds me how important a proper fitting prosthesis is in the lives of children.

In Africa, there are many limiting factors in making and fitting prosthesis for children. The child has to go to a center and be casted for a mold, return later for a fitting, wait at the hospital for adjustments, stay for rehabilitation and then return again to learn to use the prosthesis. All of this leads to a long, expensive process and a prosthesis that often doesn’t fit right.

We think there’s a better way! And we’re going to test it with the University of Toronto.

Imagine a field worker going to the village and taking digital images of a child’s limb, then sending these pictures to a program that can knit a blueprint of a socket that will fit perfectly to that child’s leg. Imagine that child never having to make a single trip to the hospital until their prosthesis is ready, and imagine when they get there, it’s a perfect fit!

With 3D printing, we can make this a reality. It’s faster, more convenient, and has far less room for error.

We’ve made an application for a grant to Grand Challenges Canada to test this model in Uganda. You can help us with this application by watching our video on the Grand Challenges Canada web site:


If you’re as excited as we are, please “like” the video. Each “like” gives us a better chance of getting this funding. And if you really want to help, send the link to your friends by email, Facebook and Twitter and ask them to “like” it as well.

You can help make a difference in the lives of kids with disabilities in the poorest countries. Get the word out!


God really did create us for relationship

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

Monday, March 26, 2012

The penultimate build day, hard to believe it’s coming to an end.

After taking Sunday off to go to church and relax for a day, it was back to the build site today.

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We knew the pain was the result of hard work, hard work on behalf of someone who needs assistance

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

Nothing makes you feel as sore as manual labour, especially if you are used to working at a desk all day.

Today was our first day on the build site, and I don’t think very many of us, including myself, had any idea how hard it is to build a house from the ground up.

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cbm and Habitat Canada team up to build accessible housing for people living with a disability.

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

Flew from Lilongwe, Malawi on Friday to Durban, South Africa today via Johannesburg. I am now switching gears in the heart of southern Africa. I am going from visiting cbm funded work in Swaziland and Malawi to participating on a joint cbm Canada/Habitat Canada build in Kwa Zulu Natal.

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Today, I learned the true value of volunteers.

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

I learned the true value of volunteers today. Not that I ever thought it wasn’t valuable before, but today it took on a much deeper meaning for me.

We headed to the bush to see an eye-screening clinic. And when I say we drove into the bush, I mean we drove into the bush. We quite literally just turned off the paved road onto a dirt path that wasn’t much wider than a bike path. The brush on either side of us was higher than the car and the road was so twisting and turning that if the car ahead got more than 10 feet ahead, it was gone and we couldn’t see it anymore.

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Aisha, 22-years-old drags her right leg as she runs.

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

We flew from Manzini, Swaziland to Lilongwe, Malawi today and met up with Stefan Dofel, cbm’s Country Coordinator for Malawi.

We hopped in a couple vehicles and drove east from Lilongwe – the capital of Malawi – to the town of Salima on the coast of Lake Malawi.

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Imagine being a writer who can’t read

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

Brian Hatchell - cbm Canada

Together with a few cbm Canada donors and colleagues, Brian Hatchell travelled to Swaziland, Malawi and South Africa earlier this month to visit cbm projects to see how they are impacting lives.

On March 12th, we visited Good Shepherd Hospital to see Dr. Jonathan Pons in action, in his element, in his eye care ward. As we entered the door of a simple, modestly decorated office, we were immediately greeted by a man in a bright red shirt, grinning from ear to ear with a red dot over his forehead, just above his right eye. The dot indicated which eye Dr. Pons was going to examine today.

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In Niger – How do you plan for drought?

How do you plan for a food crisis? How do you include people with disabilities in that planning?

One answer might surprise you… you build a garden and dig a well!

In Niger we have this wonderful example of how cbm worked with Oumou Moussa, a woman with a disability, to help her use her land for a well and garden. You can see this and listen to Oumou’s own words in this video.

An important benefit of this project is the difference in how people in her village see her – listen to their words and the value they see in having her as a neighbor. I cannot stress enough how important these underlying attitudes are to people with disabilities.

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