Tuesday, August 11, 2009

THE MISSING BRAZILIAN STUDENT – GABRIEL BUCHMANN

He visited Malawi and thought of climbing Mulanje Mountain where he got lost on 17th July 2009 and was found dead on 5th August.

Gabriel Buchmann was on a mission to Asia and Africa.He traveled to 28 countries and Malawi was his last country to visit before going back to Brazil on 28th July. He was an Economist/ Humanitarian studying effects of poverty around the world. He had a BA in International Relations and Economics, he pursued an MA in Economics at PUC University in Rio de Janeiro. He had been awarded with a Fulbright scholarship and was to start a PHD in Public Policy at UCLA in September.

Here is how his best friend Pedro Hemsley described him at the start of a rescue mission:

A quick comment on the guy. Gabriel is an economist who studies poverty. He traveled many times to get to know people who live under adverse conditions – unlike most economists, who stick to the figures. He worked with public policy for poverty (you may guess how ineffective it is in most of the world) and will start his PhD in September at the University of California to go on researching and working on poverty. He decided to take a one-year trip in Asia and Africa to live with people, to see actual people in real situations, before going back into the books. He wasn’t a typical tourist at all. He didn’t sleep in hotels, but found accommodation with locals.

He hunted and fished with them.

He took part in their rituals.

This is who we are looking for.




Before coming to Malawi Gabriel had been to Kenya and Uganda. Here is one of the last emails he sent to his relatives on 1st June 2009:

“Dearest mom, girlfriend and João, my top partners in this backpacking trip, my dearest little sister, After more than a week of a full-on experience into the heart of Africa . I’ve found this cybercafe in Jinha, countryside of Uganda, just in front of river Nile…to I write you to say that I am truly overwhelmed and life is wonderfully good! My days in Africa have been absolutely fantastic!!! After spending a few days in the house of a refugee from Congo in Nairobi, don’t ask me how I ended up in the remote village of the masais in Kenya, where I spent days running after giraffes, zebras, and antelopes carrying on a spade and arrow. I was having a truly tribal experience, sleeping in these people houses and all that….oh, and among many adventures in Kenya, I ended in style. I did a bike safari with my masai friend in a stunning national park… So I’m pretty roots here, walking for a week wrapped up in one of those colorful pieces of fabric, carrying on a stick of wood and steal spade…all I know is that since I’ve arrived in Africa I haven’t seen ANY muzumgo (white man), besides myself…

Oh, by the way, in the middle of all that today I sent a child to school!!! It’s a long story, but to keep it simple, after spending a whole day walking around a small village in Uganda with a boy that, among other things, introduced me to his family, which lives in totally misery, and then for coincidence I went visiting this public school and was talking to the director, so I decided I would pay the enrollment fee and all the expenses so that this boy could go to school until the end of the year…

The best about being in Africa is that only here I can travel the way I’ve always dreamt. Today for the second time I stayed at a hostel since I arrived in this continent, all other days I stayed and had meals with the locals, spending less than 3 dollars a day, which allowed me to distribute the rest of my daily allowance among those who helped me along the way by feeding me or by receiving me in their homes. I am overwhelmed to live such adventure …making a real journey into the heart of Africa, a totally non-touristy one, in a sustainable way, being able to help a few Africans on the way…here with almost nothing you can make a huge difference in people’s lives…for instance with only 12 dollars I paid my friend’s rent in Congo for the whole month. With only 40 dollars I paid for one year of such a cool school for this other boy……”


Gabriel's body returned to Brazil in Rio where it will be cremated at Mortuary Pax River after a wake in the chapel of Memorial of Caramel in Caju starting from Monday 10th August to Tuesday 11th August.

May his soul rest in peace!!!