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Philosophy According to Michael Kennedy

Our ChAPSter Buddy Michael Kennedy took some time out to ponder the deeper things of life in his latest blog posts. His recent protein purchase made him think about the little we know before we sign up for overseas work. Also, Michael tells us a Malawian love tale.

All the intrigue can be found at his blog:

Michael returns to Canada later this year. It will be a great chance to pick his brain on how he formulated his philosophy.


What’s Michael Up To?

Michael Kennedy is our ChAPSter Buddy in Zomba, Malawi. He is promoting community led total sanitation (CLTS) in rural Malawi. Right now the handbook he is working on has been split into two to better suit the needs of local governments. He offered his thoughts on parenting in his latest blog post: He won’t be coming home for Christmas, so he would love to hear from you. Send him an email at to congratulate him on his Imagine campaign.

Michael won’t be going to Conference in Calgary. However, Noel Khunga who works with Michael will be at Conference. You can find out more about Noel at It would be great if our chapter could make an effort to meet Noel at Conference and ask him about how he’s bringing systemic innovation to Malawi.

Group Skype Call with ChAPSter Buddy Michael Kennedy

The EWB VCN had a Skype call with Michael Kennedy, our ChAPSter buddy in Zomba, Malawi, at our last general meeting. (Shout out to Michael for getting up so early/staying up so late to take our Skype call!) Michael is working as an African Program Staff to promote community led total sanitation (CLTS) to eliminate open defecation in rural Malawi. (More background: Have a read of his highly entertaining blog where you can learn of his recent camping trip with his sister: He would love to hear from you and he promises to answer your more serious questions on what sort of impact his handbook is having on the rural health extension office. Email him at He also welcomes questions on his pet spider.

Our ChAPSter Buddy Michael Kennedy in Malawi

NO launched an initiative called the ChAPSter Buddy program whereby EWB chapters gets paired with an APS in regular dialogue to further enhance the understanding and awareness of African Programs. The Vancouver City Network has been matched with APS Michael Kennedy. Since March 2012, Michael has been working in rural health extension as part of the Malawi Watsan team. The Vancouver native shared some of his day-to-day experiences over a Skype call with Jonathan Haley and Kenneth Chan.

It didn’t take long for Michael to strip away the romanticism around development work in the field. There was much similarity between deploying hygiene and sanitation education programs and project management, which was his academic background. The contexts might be different, he explained, but some of the same problems exist. One of them would be scope creep, when development practitioners tend to establish unrealistic goals and try to achieve too much. Rather, Michael said, a pragmatic approach needs to be taken whereby there are estimates and billable hours.

Life in the field as an APS comes with unique challenges, Michael reminded. Although he has been in Malawi for eight months at the time of the call, he still misses sushi and Starbucks. If an APS really wanted a pepperoni pizza or shower, he said, EWB was good at accommodating for APS’ specific requests. EWB would want their APS to be as comfortable as necessary in order to carry out their long term work in Africa.

Learn more about our ChAPSter Buddy and what he’s doing by visiting his blog where he posts about monkeys encountering electricity. Michael does not mince words and offers a fresh take on the grit and mess of development work.