First off, let me say that I am sorry for the delay in starting this blog. The 5 weeks of pre-departure training in Toronto kept me so busy that I was unable to find the energy to get a blog started. Following this, during my first two weeks in Malawi I continued to experience a bit of an energy deficit, which, when coupled with a lack of quality high-speed internet access, led me to delay the start of this blog even further. Since that time, however, I’ve become a bit more settled, and promise to update this blog regularly moving forward.

Since keeping my last blog during my time in Zambia ( I have tried to refine both my understanding of my audience, and my goals for messaging. Looking back, I believe that blog’s readers consisted of several different groups, with distinct interests, and this time around I want to make sure I offer something to all of those groups.

I am writing this blog for friends and family who want to know how I’m doing, and understand my day-to-day life. I am writing this blog for EWB members in Canada who want to gain a better understanding of our overseas programs. I am writing this blog for engineers and engineering students who want to learn more about technologies used in rural Malawi. I am writing this blog for strangers (likely including Malawians) who could be reading it for any number of reasons.

All of these people have different interests. Therefore, rather than trying to engage everyone with every post, I have decided to break up my blog into a number of different sections, all of which I will hopefully update regularly. This will also allow me to exercise my desire to constantly be writing, without overwhelming any one group of people with posts.

The planned sections are as follows:

Life, Thoughts, and Stories

This section, the main one of the blog, will contain many different elements. Stories about my day-to-day experiences. Accounts of interesting trips to the field as part of my work. Discussion of how I am growing and changing as a person. Clarification about what my daily life looks like. Descriptions of things that I am thinking about that relate to my experience in Malawi.

If something really interesting or exciting happens in my life, you’re likely to find it here.

EWB Approach

This section will contain a more detailed and technical description about what EWB is trying to do in Malawi, and how my placement fits into it. It is my attempt to help EWB members in Canada better understand what we are doing overseas, but is obviously open for anyone to read.

Technology Notes

There are lots of simple and interesting “appropriate technologies” being used in water and sanitation in Malawi. As a somewhat nerdy engineering type myself, I feel obliged to offer some descriptions of these when I encounter them, so that other nerdy engineering types can enjoy them as well. This section is where you’ll find those descriptions.

Backpack Malawi

While my main reason for being here is the work we’re doing, I have already come into contact with elements of the backpacker/tourist side of Malawi, and will likely continue to do so throughout my placement. I also want more people to come to this part of the world and experience the amazingness that is Southern Africa. With that in mind, when I see cool tourist things, I intend to write about them.

Random Thoughts

This is definitely the most self-indulgent section planned for this blog. I think, read, and write a lot about things that are fairly unrelated to EWB’s work, or to daily life in Malawi. This section is where I will put them. Feel free to read or ignore them as you choose.


As of right now, this is where I am at with the blog. I intend to start updating it with posts in the next few days, and to do so continually throughout my placement. Comments are always welcome, and help me better understand who is reading this and what you are thinking.

Take care, and much love from Malawi.




  1. Fantastic idea for dividing your posts up. I really look forward to your blog.

    Two quick things:

    1) If you start an e-mail list, put me on it. I'm much less likely to forget to read a post if it shows up in my mail box.

    2) Check out Twitter if you get a chance. Florin is using it in Ghana and I find it really cool to get small tidbits of what is happening. It's a good 'hold-over' between blog posts.

    All the best,

  2. Hey Owen,

    Neat stuff! I like your explicit layout.

    If you do put together a mailing list, fantastic. Sign me up! If not, can you let us know how regularly you plan to post (roughly) so we can check back every so often?


  3. I will definitely be one of many avid readers I'm sure - so if you have a mailing list, put me on (
    all the best, Kathleen

  4. Owen - I'm liking the concept of different categories. Seems like it could be a lot of blogging for you, but from a reader's point of view, it helps get straight to the stuff you're looking for!

    Excited to read a few posts over the next 7 or 8 weeks, and even more excited to catch up overseas (if not in Lilongwe in May then at the mid-summer retreat!)


  5. I really like the categorizing idea too. I had trouble figuring out the balance of what I was blogging, but this way, you have every right to write about anything because you've given a disclaimer. =)

  6. This really is an out-of-nowhere comment, but I've been reading lots of blog similar to yours lately. And I have to say that this one really is one of the most interesting from my point of view. You're very good at explaining how things are and why they are that way (or possible reasons why). Besides, the way things are said and explain, while sometimes not necessarily very diplomatic, do have what it needs to captivate readers and start reflexions, to that's nice.

    On a totally unrelated topic, this comment is on the Introduction section because, for some reason, I tend to read blog entries backward.... I feel they should be most recent at the top, and old ones at the bottom.