Update from Kasungu
Hello from Kasungu! It’s hard to believe that we only have 8 more days here. We are spending our last week and a half at Chiwengo village which is a set of 4 children homes. We will be working with the nurse as well as just spending time with the children. It’s a wonderful place to be, as each of the homes has a set of parents and feels just like a family.
Since we haven’t had much internet access recently, here is an update on what we have been up to this past week:
On Thursday we taught a hygiene workshop to 5th and 6th graders in the village of Chilombo, which is where we originally did our cultural immersion on our first full day here. We divided the lesson into 3 main categories: brushing teeth, bathing and covering wounds. From what we could tell, it went great and the kids were great listeners and very receptive to what we had to say. Also, we were privileged enough to be able to distribute hygiene packs to nearly all these kids, containing things like soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo, bandaids and washcloths. We tried to liven up the lessons with tooth models and giant toothbrushes borrowed from a dentist, as well as skits and songs. After presenting the hygiene workshops we got to meet with the school’s headmaster, where we learned that the school of 600 children only has five teachers. We then got to play games with children in the schoolyard and help pass out soap to children who are registered in the Children of the Nations program. All in all, it was a great opportunity to visit this school and meet the headmaster and students there, and to see what primary school is like in Malawi.
On Friday we had to get up very early to get ready and leave for the mobile clinic in Gusu—which is 1 ½ hours north of Lilongwe—that was put on by the African Bible College Clinic. We met up with the rest of the staff that would be helping out over the weekend. In total we had 80 people on staff that was comprised of various teams. We arrived at the village at 8 am and had the clinic functional and operating at 10 am. The process of the clinic consisted of patients going through triage where they had their vitals taken and chief complaints were documented. Then the patients were directed to meet with a doctor to receive a diagnosis and then either medication or a lab test. Some team members got to give tests for malaria while others administered iron supplements and de-worming pills and took vitals. We had a giant tent setup for triage and then in the three schoolrooms we had the pharmacy and two doctor’s offices (adults and pediatrics). Overall, the clinic was able to help close to 900 registered patients over the course of one day. It was a great opportunity for us to practice some hands-on work as well as gain invaluable insight as to how to properly care for others. It was an exhausting day since there is a language barrier, which meant having to do charades to get patients to understand that we needed to put a thermometer under their armpit.
On Saturday, some of us helped with taking vital signs of the remaining patients. Then there was a soccer tournament between seven teams from surrounding villages competing for the grand prize of hosting the clinic in their village next year. In between games there was a live concert put on by a Malawian Christian hiphop group. It was strange to have a day devoted mainly to entertainment, but we could see that these things were also beneficial to people from nearby villages.
Sunday was a transition day; we returned to Njewa (in Lilongwe) to shower, eat lunch and repack and then headed north to Kasungu, to Chiwengo Children’s Home, which is where we’ll be for the remainder of the trip. That night we got to visit three of the four children homes and meet the houseparents, aunties (assistant parents), and most of the children. We had dinner with the parents (it was nearly 9pm by this point) and then went to bed. We had Monday off so that we could rest and gear up for our last week here at Chiwengo. We spent the day journaling, doing laundry (by hand of course, since there is no running water here) and reflecting on the past few weeks together.
On Tuesday, we started the morning by having team devotions. It was nice to finally have a chance to sit together as a team and talk about the weekend. We are staying at the guesthouse in Chiwengo which is very nice. It is a Western style house that has a living room (We have a couch!), dining room, two rooms (one for boys and one for girls), a courtyard that connects to the other part of the house, restroom, and kitchen. As mentioned, there is no running water so we have to haul water from a nearby pump in order to do things like cook, take “bucket baths,” and fill the toilet tank. We have two extra team members with us who are Malawian interns from COTN. Alford is interested in becoming a doctor so it has been great to have him join us here. Mirriam grew up in Chiwengo so it is nice to have her here as she knows the daily chores and routine here as well as she helps with cooking. After breakfast, we helped Charity (COTN’s nurse) operate the clinic in Chiwengo We did tasks like taking vitals and chief complaints for the patients. We have the afternoon off so we are preparing devotions that we will be sharing at the houses in the evenings. Tomorrow we will be going with Charity into town to tour the general hospital.
Thank you so much for your prayers and continued interest in what we are up to, and we will try to keep you as updated as much as we can.