Saturday, 23 November 2013

Day 3 in the field

A day late . . .

I'm going to sound like a broken record, but today was another amazing day. First stop was Tiyamike Feeding Centre, where Marguerite a nurse from Holland, who is based in Malawi , was running her monthly children's clinic at Joshua's feeding centre. Marguerite runs the children's health clinic every Friday at four of Joshua's feeding centres. And it's not just the children she see's  to, the occasional adult makes their way in too.

But first a bit of history of the the feeding centre-it was founded by local women in 2002 and has around 50 children in attendance every day. For the first ten years the feeding centre took place in a simple grass shelter, which was wet in the rain, and sometimes blew away. Thanks to volunteers from Quest Overseas and Joshua in 2012 a proper building was erected and its the perfect building for an informal clinic.

When we arrived there was already a long queue of mothers and children, they come to get the children weighed, and Marguerite uses this to determine how the child is developing - loss of weight or being very underweight can be a sign of worms, which Marguerite can easily treat with a simple course of antibiotics, then a month later when the child comes back she can see if they are now gaining weight. Weighing the children also helps us monitor that the feeding centre is doing what it should, and improving the welfare of some of Malawi's poorest families.

Marguerite also refers people to the hospital or local clinic if they need treatment for Malaria, or if she is unsure of the diagnosis. This project really brings vital healthcare out to those who need it, many people wouldn't make the day long journey to a clinic or hospital until it was too late - these rural clinics help to bridge the gap and save lives.

So a few of the cases we saw were, one young girl who had lost a lot of weight at last months clinic - Marguerite referred her to the clinic suspecting she had Malaria and it turns out she did, and dysentery. This month the girl is recovering well - she has put on 1.4kg - a sure sign of improving health.

Many of the children came in with skin rashes, this is due to poor hygiene and bathing in contaminated water. To try and combat the number of rashes Marguerite teaches classes in the afternoon on hygiene and healthy eating. Not in the way we think of healthy eating - it's more to do with ensuring that each child gets one meal a day which includes the five essential food groups.

Whilst I was there a mother came in limping with her young son. The son was fine, but the mother had suffered from a snake bite in February. She had been on her way back from the clinic to get Malaria treatment for her son when she was bitten by a snake. Lucky to be alive she spent two months in hospital and even after all this time her wound, which looked like a burn, was still healing.  Marguerite redressed the wound for her, and said that next month is it hadn't improved she would refer her for a skin graft.

After leaving Marguerite and her team we headed to Manjenje Feedig Centre, this is the most rural feeding centre I have been to so far and Joshua currently only gives them support of Lukini and Maize. The centre, which is on the top of a very big hill and which is reached by a single dirt track is run by the incredible Elizabeth, a Grandmother who has opened her house, her home and her land to the local children. They have no permanent structure for the centre, but the children huddle in a grass hut, which in the rain, which came whilst I was there, is completely useless.

I felt the true "warm heart" of Africa on the top of this remote hill, Elizabeth and her team of caregivers are doing all they can to improve the lives of the local orphans and vulnerable children by running this centre. They don't get paid anything, they don't even have bowls and spoons for the children to eat from, caregivers bring there's from home to share. But what they do have is a determination to improve the lives of these incredibly vulnerable children, and I hope Joshua will be able to assist them over the coming years.

My last stop for the day was a visit to Warm Hearts Arts, an organisation which improved the lives of orphans and local people by teaching them craft work, work which they then sell. Joshua has had a relationship with them for many years now and is proud to support this fabulous organisation. On our visit we met an incredible disabled woman who cannot use her arms and paints the most wonderful batique's with her mouth. We brought some and will be bringing them back with us for the Joshua Party on Sunday the 8th of December.

The end of another day drew to a close, and every day I feel more inspired by the work Joshua is doing here in Malawi - thank you to everyone at home for their support!