Twice a week Jean, a qualified nurse who volunteers her service’s at Joshua, and one of our Field Officers go out into the communities Joshua support to run a pop-up medical clinic for mother’s to bring their young children and babies to. Here, the children are weighed, checked for illnesses or symptoms of, and provided with medical care and advice. This week, I had the privilege to join Jean and Joseph and what a touching experience it was.
Having travelled Africa widely on family holidays, I have seen the widespread effects of poverty. Or I thought I had. What I learnt yesterday was that I had only begun to skim the surface of what it means to live in poverty in Africa. Arriving Solomoni, there were queues of women with their children waiting for us; prepared to walk for miles and to wait for as long as it took to be seen by Jean.
One by one, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends would bring in children and babies to be examined. I had the very important job of weighing the infants. This, I was told, was crucial in order to monitor the weight of the child over time, enabling Jean to assess whether the child was developing normally or was malnourished. The women then described to Jean, through Joseph, any symptoms the children had. Armed with a thermometer, a stethoscope and a box of medical supplies, Jean was able to give advice, treat any illnesses, or praise mother’s for their decision to take the child to hospital at the right time. Illnesses ranged from upset tummies and ear infections to Malaria.
In particular, one family will stick with me; a lady brought in her young sister who had downs syndrome. The little girl played with her young cousins beside us whilst Jean was able to stress the importance of education, playtime, and communication in order for the little girl to develop. Having previously read that many disabled children in poverty-stricken countries are often abandoned due to the families’ inability to care for the child it was truly humbling to see how loved this little girl was.
By the end of the day over 100 children had been seen, all leaving with the help they needed whether it be medical advice or just peace of mind. Two of the cases required us to transport the mother and child to the local clinic and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre. One child was suspected of having malaria whilst the other had complications post malaria treatment.
The day on the whole showed how important events such as these pop up medical clinics and healthcare education is for these communities. I felt extremely privileged to be a part of the work done by Jean, Joseph and the rest of the Joshua team in communities such as Solomoni.