As we set out this morning on our 16th visit to Malawi, on a journey that will take up to 30 hours. We have all the same fears and worries about this seven week trip that we know will bring joy and pain, wonder and frustration and a host of emotions, varying sometimes from hour to hour.
Mary is a wonder in that she can always find a piece of writing which helps:
Last night it was this piece by the late Bishop Oscar Romero:
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived. He had always been close to his people, preached a prophetic gospel, denouncing the injustice in his country and supporting the development of popular and mass organizations. He became the voice of the Salvadoran people when all other channels of expression had been crushed by the repression.
This gives us great hope and courage.
Daniel and I met the District Health Officers at Mzuzu Clinic today.
The purpose of the meeting was to arrange assistance, and primarily ambulance transport, for those who attend the Birthing Centre at Lusangazi. As it stands a woman who attends in labour is treated in the centre, and if complications arise she must somehow walk about 3km to the main road, wait for a car to come, and then get a lift to the clinic another 8km away. At the meeting was the Health Surveillance Assistant for the Lusangazi area, the Head of Community Nursing, the District Health Officer and his support staff.
The District Health Staff are delighted at the developments in Lusangazi. They would like to use the clinic as an outstation for their services.
We also came to a good compromise on the original issue. We will provide a telephone and extension lead for an existing telephone line so that calls can be received in the Maternity Department. Should an emergency arise the birth attendant can call the telephone number of the district health office, and at night this will be answered by the midwife on duty. She will then immediately dispatch the next available ambulance.
As it stands if somebody needs an ambulance in Mzuzu (the third largest city) they must get someone else to walk, cycle or hitch to the hospital or nearest health centre, notify a nurse to dispatch or request an ambulance by radio, and then escort it back to the patient.
This line means that not only will our birth attendant have access to an ambulance in an emergency, anybody can now ring the hospital to get one day or night 24/7.
Picture shows Tamala (left), the Health Surveillance Assistant for Lusangazi, consulting with a client outside the Health Centre. All medical services in Lusangazi had been suspended due to lack of facilities but Tamala was so excited with the development of the clinic that she started providing her services before it was even opened. Last week she vaccinated 30 children under 5, and dipped over 200 mosquito nets in insecticide. Malaria had been the cause of the death of a young girl opposite the clinic last year, so the community is very much aware of the need to dip nets.
The man in the suit is the school principal and until recently, when we replaced the roofing material, he had a thatched roof which leaked!!
The man in the foreground contacted HIV 20 years ago from a blood transfusion his wife got. As a couple they are open about their condition which is a great help to others in the community as they are in very good health using ARV drugs.
The community support group idea is simple. The community support each other and we support the group.
We had a meeting with the Women and the HIV Support group in Luvovo today. Over 50 women and about 10 men were in attendance.
The meeting was to discuss the possibility of starting a micro-credit scheme for small-scale business in the village. The village chief had met the idea with an enthusiastic reception when we approached him and called his people to attend today.
The people eagerly welcomed the idea of assistance with business, and immediately went to work discussing options among each other, facilitated by community leaders and the school teachers.
After the meeting a lady came forward with a bag of oranges. She was wanting to give a gift as she wanted to get involved with the HIV support group. Another man came up to inform me that his brother, Venji, had died. Venji had been one of the two people who were suffering heavily from HIV when we first visited, to the extent that it severely hampered his ability to leave the house and his mood. He died on 10th December, but since then his brother has become even more involved in the support group and is eager to get more men to come forward and join.