Category Archives: Malawi Trip 2012

The Long Journey Home

We started out from the Lakeside Hotel at 10am (3am Boca time) Saturday and after a brief stop at Pothawira drove an hour and a half to the Lilongwe airport along with Peter, Emma and Alpha.  After saying our goodbyes we boarded our first flight of three and one half hours to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  After a two hour layover we took off from Addis Ababa and flew seven hours and landed in Rome for a refueling stop (we didn’t leave the plane) then flew another nine hours to Washington, D.C. where we had a four hour layover.

We said goodbye to the Yelle family who traveled back from D.C. to their home in Ottawa.  The next stop for the rest of us was Newark (45 minute flight) with a 45 minute layover then on to Fort Lauderdale (3 hours).  So after about 40 hours of traveling we finally arrived back in Boca.

What a great time we had serving alongside Pastor (and Doctor) Peter Maseko and his wife Emma.  We thank God for a truly a blessed week in Malawi.

Day 7: Clinic

Today we had planned to be a rest day but God had other plans for us. We went to the Pothawira clinic for the morning to see some of the orphans that we were not able to see earlier in the week. When we got to the clinic, we saw a big lineup of people and decided to change our plans and stay and see patients. After time of worship with the people and great prayer, led by Nelson, the clinic administrator, we had a very busy morning with Dr. Yelle and Dr. Maseko seeing patients outside in the waiting area to speed up the process. Jackie and Susan did triage outside and once again saw several wound care patients with serious infections. They redressed the wounds on other patients that had returned having been treated earlier in the week. The man with the serious hand infection had shown remarkable improvement.

We had all planned to take a boat ride to Lizard Island, which is an island off shore of our hotel on Lake Malawi. Since we had already paid a deposit on the boat, some of the group left to go on the boat at about noon. The boat also made a stop at an area that was said to be visited by hippos, but alas, after a very long hike in the hot sun, no hippos were spotted. After this disappointing excursion, Rob and his family went to enjoy some family time at the Livingstonia Sunbird hotel which has a pool near the beach and where we have eaten dinner several times this week.

At the clinic, the rest of the group worked on the long line of people remaining and were able to treat almost 350 patients including some of the orphans that we had not yet seen. We took a break at one point and gave out the Chichewa Bibles that we had purchased for the orphans and Mommas and other staff members. It was touching to know that for most of them this was the first book that had ever received. The children sang some worship songs for us and one of them spoke and thanked us for the gifts that we had given them throughout the week and for the time we had spent treating them and doing activities with them

It was at the end of the day that we saw God’s purpose in having us do the clinic today when a woman came in with her baby. Jackie determined that the baby was severely malnourished and had possible neurological damage as a result. The baby was four months old and weighed less than five pounds and was not very responsive, not even crying. Jackie and Peter decided that there was nothing that could be done at the clinic so we loaded up the team with the mother and child along with her friend and took them to a nearby hospital where the baby was admitted for treatment. Please pray for this little one as the doctors work to save his life!

We then went to the Livingsonia Sunbird to meet the Yelle family for dinner where we prayed together and shared our experiences from a very eventful and blessed week. We are very grateful at how God was able to use us working alongside Dr. Maseko and his staff as well as spending time with orphans at Pothawira Village.

 

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Day 6: Clinic, VBS

Ron and Miriam left this morning to go to Capetown and Rich was recruited to drive them to the airport (driving on the left side of the road of course). Precious, one of the young men who attended the Gospel Boot Camp, presented Ron with a small plaque that he had made before they left. Greg (using his piloting skills) has been our mini-bus driver for most of the week, driving to and from the clinic each day and running errands into town to get water and exchange money as needed.

Clinic

People waiting to see the doctor at the clinic

Today was the busiest day yet in the clinic. When we arrived at 8am there was already a large group of people in line in the outside waiting area and more arrived throughout the day. Many had walked the 15 miles from Senga Bay to come to the clinic. We ended up seeing over 400 patients today alone for a total of about 1200 patients for the week including the orphans and staff of Pothawira Village. Peter started off the morning by introducing our team and leading the waiting group in a time of worship followed by a beautiful prayer by Lucia, one of our translators. It was great to hear them praising God in spite of their physical ailments.

The man with the serious hand infection came back again to have his wound dressed and you could see that the swelling had gone down and the wound was beginning to heal. There were more wound care patients including a man who had his leg run over by a tractor and had an infection due to lack of proper treatment. Once again there were many mothers with their babies including one baby that Jackie diagnosed with a condition known as “tongue tie” that causes difficulties in breast feeding. Dr. Peter was able to do a “tongue tie division” which is a simple surgical procedure to correct the condition. Jackie used her “Nurturing Your Newborn” skills to help train these mothers in proper care for their babies.

The pharmacy was very busy as most patients were given a prescription for at least one type of medicine. Although we used much of the more commonly prescribed medicines we still will leave Dr. Maseko with a large supply to continue to serve the community at the clinic thanks to the generous contributions toward medical supplies. It was once again a team effort, with Susan and Jackie trading off triage of patients and doing wound care, Monika helping to take weight and vital signs, Greg once again as the lab tech (with no previous medical experience) testing blood for malaria, hemoglobin and blood sugar, Rich, Valette and Marika helping Joe in the pharmacy and of course Dr. Yelle and Dr. Maseko in the examining rooms. Luke and Liam were able to entertain some of the children waiting at the clinic with a lively game of soccer (don’t know where they get the energy to play in the intense heat).

Recorder Lesson

In the afternoon, Monika, assisted by Luke and Liam, went to the dining hall and gave the older orphan children a lesson in playing the recorder (Monika is a music teacher and brought 50 recorders with her to give to the Pothawira school). Emma was there also to translate and the children learned fast and were soon attempting to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as a group. Even the Mammas joined in the lesson. These children were given the job of continuing to practice so the they in turn can teach the other children and they took that role very seriously.

As the sun was setting at the end of the busy clinic day, Dr. Yelle and Susan, with Luke and Liam, spent some time playing games with the children outside the clinic.

 

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Day 5: Clinic, VBS

Clinic

Today was another busy day in the clinic as word has spread throughout the local community. There were many mothers seeking treatment for their babies (shown is a picture of the unique way of weighing them). The medical team again saw a variety of things from simple back pains, to colds, to various stomach issues due to lack of clean water. It was “all hands on deck” in the clinic as Ron, Greg and Rich joined in to help as needed. Greg has become quite proficient at performing the malaria test that can also distinguish the type of malaria as some strains are more aggressive than others. Valette, Craig and Marika helped again in the clinic counting pills and filling prescriptions supervised by Joe, head pharmacist. Susan performed triage as the patients waited to see Dr. Yelle and Dr. Maseko and Jackie saw patients on her own in addition to assisting the doctors. Rich, Monika and Miram assisted in the wound care treatments as well as being “runners” between the pharmacy and the doctors.

Dr. Yelle commented that he did not realize how pervasive malaria is in Malawi and how sick people can get. He saw a one year old boy named James who had diarrhea and high fevers and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of malaria. He was treated with injections and rehydration over four hours. We will see him tomorrow for his third injection and to make sure he is well enough to take pills.

Please pray for his treatment and recovery. Jackie also treated the boy with the serious infection in his hand and redressed his wound. Please continue to pray for him as well that he will have no permanent damage to his tendons.

It was a long day in the clinic, as we saw the last few patients and filled their prescriptions using flashlights (no power yet at the clinic, the generator has not yet been installed).

Vacation Bible School

Today was Mirian and Ron’s last day at Pothawira, as they will be traveling tomorrow to Capetown to meet with potential church planters there. Mirian spent the afternoon with the children, giving them their individual pictures she had taken on Monday, mounted in a foam frame that they decorated with stick-on shapes. It was great to see their faces as they received the photos; most had never seen a photo of themselves, let alone receive one to keep. Craig, Ron, Rich, Luke and Liam assisted the children as they decorated their frames.

Miriam showed them the completed mural that they had made the day before with their hand prints in various colors. She then read a few of the letters from the children of Spanish River Christian School, calling up the child that the letter was addressed to and then explained that each letter was also written to all of them. They answered questions such as “what is your favorite color?” or “what is your favorite food?”. The children will be working today and tomorrow on their responses which we will carry back to SRCS.

Monika along with Luke and Liam showed the children the recorders that they had brought for the older grades in the school and gave them their first lesson, even playing one of the native worship songs we had heard the children singing in Sunday’s church service.

Later the children were each given a wooden “twirly” toy which were hand-crafted by Spanish River’s own wood worker, Mickey Kinley. They are propellers mounted on wooden dowels that fly in the air as you rub the shaft between your hands. That and the jump ropes they were given the day before provided for a joyful play time the rest of the afternoon.

 

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Day 4: Gospel Boot Camp, Clinic, VBS

Gospel Boot Camp

Today the Gospel Boot Camp was devoted to having the pastor’s and church leaders practice what they learned. Volunteers each preached a brief sermon attempting to incorporate the seven main points of the bad news and good news and they were critiqued by their peers. There was a good amount of interaction among the 71 participants in the seminar and once again, Emma did a great job of translating for the speakers so that Ron, Greg and Rich could join in the critique.

The Clinic

The clinic was very busy as it was opened up to the people in the surrounding communities. When we arrived there was already a line of people in the waiting area. There were a couple of burn patients and some other wound care as well as people who needed only pain or cold medication. One memorable case was an 18 year old boy who came in with a severely infected hand. He said that it started with three blisters which were not cared for properly and became infected and abscessed. He was told by someone that toothpaste is a good treatment so the infected wound was also caked with Colgate making it difficult to clean (Peter said it is common to have the type of misinformation spread among his patients). It had been almost two months since he had first gotten the blisters and has only gotten worse to the point that he had a one-inch open gaping wound and according to Dr. Yelle he was only weeks away from losing his hand. The infection could have spread to his bone potentially risking his limb and life.

Jackie and Dr. Yelle debrided the wound, cleaned it up and gave him hefty doses of antibiotic. Please pray that the wound would heal without affecting the tendons which might permanently hinder his grip.

VBS

The VBS continued today with the kids putting their handprints in colored paint on a mural of Jesus sitting with children under a tree (thanks to Linda Fox who provided the mural). Miriam, Valette and Monika then passed out the jump ropes and the children were happily jumping and playing with the ropes. Even the Mommas joined in the fun.

 

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