Xavier Magazine

Profile: Steven J. Banes

Steven J. Baines

Bachelor of Arts in communications/ marketing, 1988

Baines just finished a three-year assignment with Catholic Relief Services in Africa.

Day Job | Baines, 36, served as a program manager of a food security project aimed at combating the HIV/AIDS virus in Malawi. The nation of 11 million people is one of the poorest in the world and has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates at 16.4 percent. Life expectancy is 41 years.

Disbelief | “I was amazed at the epidemic there. Funerals were common. People were aware of the disease and how it spread, but change is slow.”

Night Time | There were no movie theaters. Few people had televisions or electricity. News came from radio. Leisure time was spent having dinner parties and swimming in Lake Malawi.

Good Eating | The staple food was a bread called “nsimi,” which was made from ground corn. It was eaten with a “relish” Baines discovered isn’t made from pickles, but meat and vegetables.

Living conditions | Not as bad as Americans might think. Baines paid $750 a month for a two-bedroom house that came with a gardener and housekeeper, Patrick, who cooked and did the laundry.

Thoughts | “I felt guilty having a house staff at first. When I thought of not having a staff, I was told I would be denying Malawians a job.”

Continuing Education | He’s pursuing his master’s degree in human resource development online and will graduate this fall from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vt. He also earned his scuba certification in Malawi.

Passport Stamps | While at Xavier, he did a summer abroad in Colombia. He also spent a year with the Peace Corps in Bolivia when he was 29.

Up Next | Baines returned home in June and hopes to be assigned to a Peace Corps mission.

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