Tag Archives: malawi

Fundraiser for Malawian Women and Children – Donate and Win!

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I think about my time in Malawi a lot. I don’t think anyone can have such an experience without it affecting them throughout the rest of their lives – which is one of the reasons I wrote my book Vuto, inspired by my experiences in the country known as the Warm Heart of Africa.

My intention with the novel has always been two-fold:

  1. To open readers up to a culture and a people they may have never known about before.
  2. To give back to the Malawian people.

It’s time to kick that second purpose into gear!

Current Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) are doing some fabulous work in-country right now, especially with initiatives aimed at youth and women. Two projects that particularly excite me are Go Girls! and Hope Kit:

Go Girls! Community Mobilization

According to PCV Tyler Walton, “HIV rates in Malawi are upwards of 10% of the population and the risk for contracting the virus is even higher among adolescent girls. These risks come from gender roles, gender-based violence, high dropout rates from school, economic inequalities, physiology of disease contraction, and many other factors. Go Girls! uses local youth groups to lead community mobilization meetings and facilitate community discussions on how to best address the issues in a locally appropriate manner. Our current project is targeting six villages and we hope to expand if our pilot project is successful.  With this pilot we have the opportunity to reduce vulnerability for over 500 adolescent girls, increase rates of those completing school and reduce overall HIV rates in the local community. Every 20 cents can change the life of one girl.”

Hope Kit Training

Hope Kit is an interactive training program that targets youth with HIV prevention messaging,” Walton explains. “We are hoping to do a training of trainers with two leaders from 10 different youth groups. These new trainers then go back to their communities and do out reaches with their youth groups, spreading valuable information about making healthy choices and avoiding contracting HIV. Peace Corps has already provided 10 Hope Kits for this training and we just need a small amount for additional supplies. This will be the second implementation of this project. In the first, eight other youth groups and two schools participated and in their community interventions they reached over 1,500 people! With 60,000 people in our catchment area, we know we can do more!”

I’m partnering with Tyler to make a difference. Today through July 4th, every dollar donated will earn the donor one entry to win a prize pack that contains an autographed copy of Vuto, a bookmark, tote bag, postcard and poster.

Not only that, but I will match every dollar donated as well.

Interested in participating? Send a donation to walkleyaj@gmail.com through PayPal today.

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Filed under Africa, AIDS, Social Justice, Vuto, Women, Writing

VUTO Book Trailer

I am so thrilled to report that the official Vuto book trailer is now live! A big thanks to the wonderful Kevin Beaty for his work on this project. I hope you enjoy:

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Filed under Africa, Books, Gender, Politics, Vuto, Women, Writing

A Malawian Birth

The following is an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote after my return from Malawi, Africa, as a health volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps. This experience directly impacted my decision to write my novel Vuto. Enjoy!


I had been in Malawi, Africa, for just over two months. At the time, I had already seen a slew of images I had never so much as imagined before: coffin-making shops, one after the other, down a village street; barefooted children playing with plastic bags and hangers in the dirt; albino beggars littering the roads of the country’s capital.

But this day, in August of 2007, I was given the opportunity to experience a live birth in the middle of an African village.

I had never seen a child being born in the United States, let alone in a Third World country with the bare minimum of medical care. The nurse at the clinic was younger than I was at 23. The mother was even younger. At 17 she had already had one child before who had died within a week of being born. Her skin was dark and coarse from years of tending the soil, pumping endless buckets of water, and walking the hard dirt roads without shoes. She was already six hours into her labor when I showed up to observe.

“Will she mind that I’m watching?” I asked the nurse.

“You are white. She will think you are a doctor,” she told me.

“Where is her family?”

At this, the nurse laughed at me. “There is no family. She must do this alone.”

In Malawi, and other parts of Africa, the birthing process is a journey the mother must make by herself. It is a test of strength. Even though this woman – or girl, rather – was calling out for her mother, the nurse told me she did not really want anyone to come to her aid. If a blood relative was there, it would be a sign of weakness. Not even a friend was allowed at her side.

She squirmed and moaned on a makeshift gurney, a sarong the only thing covering her. Within another hour, the nurse told me she was ready to push.

My mouth fell open and I strained for a closer look. The crown of her baby’s head emerged from between her legs. Within minutes, the head was out, then the shoulders and, finally, the entirety of a brand new baby girl entered the world.

The umbilical cord was cut by the nurse with a rusty razor the mother had brought with her. The baby was swaddled in a sarong, also brought by the mother for this purpose.

The placenta was pushed out and, five minutes later, Mom was up, cleaning herself of blood, amniotic fluid and feces. She was preparing herself to bring her daughter home.

Still in shock, I asked, “Why isn’t she happy?” I was the only one in the room with a grin on my face.

“Nobody knows how long she’ll live,” the nurse told me. “They will not name her for another week. If she dies before, the father will not consider her his child.”

The alienness of this world enveloped me then. A potential miracle turned tragedy to me was only reality to the Malawians.


Purchase Vuto today!

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Filed under Africa, Vuto

VUTO Endorsements

One of the many ways I prepared for the release of my third novel, Vuto, was to reach out to fellow authors, as well as readers to request endorsements for the book. I sent advanced review copies to anyone who was interested and, if they wanted to once they finished reading Vuto, they sent me back several sentences of recommendation for the book.

The following are the endorsements that have come in thus far for your consideration if you are still on the fence about reading it yourself:

Purchase Vuto now at Rocket Science Productions, Amazon.com or in the iBookstore.

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

We Did It! Kickstarter Success!

This morning marked the end of my 30-day Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of my third novel, Vuto. The process from Day 1 to Day 30 has been incredible, from the stress and adrenaline of the first week and into the second, surpassing my initial funding goal in 9 days; to the 24-hour countdown in the last day of the project; to today, when it ended with this wonderful image:

I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it — I cannot fully express how unbelievably grateful and humbled I am from this experience, from the 197 backers who believed in me, and the countless other supporters who tweeted, Facebooked and blogged on behalf of this project and my novel. I am forever indebted to you all.

I am so excited to move on to the next phase of Kickstarter — fulfilling all rewards, and getting Vuto published and into my backers’ hands before getting it out into the world. There is still so much to come, so stay tuned!

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

Kickstarter Stretch Goals and Rewards

Hello to all of my wonderful Kickstarter backers and those to come!

We are doing so extremely well and I cannot thank you all enough. We have broken $4,200 as of this morning and I think $4,500 is in sight! If you recall, should we reach $4,500 by the May 9th deadline, I will film myself cooking a traditional Malawian meal and share it with all of my backers.

Image courtesy of paradiseintheworld.com.

Image courtesy of paradiseintheworld.com.

Since I have a great feeling that $4,500 is possible, I am adding yet another stretch goal as well —

If we hit $5,000 by Thursday, May 9th at 8:16am MST, I will publish an eBook that my backers will receive for free with poetry and short stories I have written over the years.

Image courtesy of ebooknobrasil.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of ebooknobrasil.blogspot.com.

And don’t forget – all backers who increase their pledges by $7 will get a tote bag along with the rest of their rewards. Let’s make the next 3 days count!

Thanks, everyone! Or as they say in Malawi – Zikomo kwambiri!

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

Kickstarter Rewards En Route!

Great news for all of my current Kickstarter backers and those to come – the postcards, bookmarks and posters that are available to donors of various levels are being printed and will soon be en route to me to send to you! Here’s a sneak peek:

Kickstarter Rewards for VUTO

Kickstarter Rewards for VUTO

There’s still plenty of time left to donate and get some great rewards, including the above! Check it out HERE.

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

Only $600 To Go!

In just a week of campaigning, my Kickstarter campaign for my third novel, Vuto, has raised $2,400 of the $3,000 goal! I am learning so much as this process goes along, and I’m recording all of these tidbits of advice to create a blog with tips and tricks for Kickstarter campaigns once my own is finished. I’m excited to share with you!

One tip I’ll reveal now is to reach out to other bloggers in order to get interviews, guest posts and the like on multiple websites throughout the campaign. I started reaching out once my project had already launched and, while I’ve been able to gain interest from several bloggers in the past week, I’m sure if I had planned ahead that interest might be greater and I could have lined up a blog every other day or so for the entirety of the campaign. Nevertheless, I encourage you to check out the following sites that have posted something regarding my Kickstarter already:

And, of course, if you haven’t donated already, please consider doing so HERE. If you donate today or tomorrow, you’ll also receive one of several free eBooks from my publishing company, Rocket Science Productions!

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Filed under Vuto, Writing