For folks like you and me, Lake Malawi sounds like an exotic, far-off destination. For hundreds of thousands of people, it’s home. The lake gives them life, providing water for their fields, fish to eat and sell, and a convenient mode of transport. Malawi is a poor country, however, and the villagers along the lake have little access to healthcare or even roads to get them to the nearest doctor.
Now a project is underway to refurbish Africa’s oldest motor-powered boat and turn it into a free mobile clinic to bring basic healthcare to settlements along Lake Malawi’s thousand miles of shoreline.
The Chauncy Maples was built in 1899 and carried in pieces overland to the lake, where it was reassembled and used for many years as a missionary school, clinic and refuge for runaway slaves. It later became a ferry. Mothballed in 1992, it’s now being completely refitted in a cooperative effort between the government of Malawi and the Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust. Donations for this worthy effort are welcome.
This video by the A+B=FilmUnit shows the work on the ship and some beautiful imagery of the lake itself. The ship will be launched in 2014 and we’ll be sure to report on it. Who knows? Maybe a certain Gadling blogger will be lucky enough to be on hand for the ship’s (second) maiden voyage.