Malawi Blog June 2019
Today we returned to St Harry’s School for the final time with all of the things we bought from the market and the shops that were in their wish list.
We were welcomed by all of the teachers and then we presented them with our gifts. Two big cooking pots (big enough to put one of our team in), spoons and bowls, seeds, fertilizer, fumigant, maize and maize sacks to support their feeding programme, fabric for the learners to have school uniforms, school bags for all of the teachers along with a few suitcases containing soap and other essentials to help the school thrive even more.
After that, the school football team were presented with Gaelic football tops from Connor from his team, Rodger Casement, and the pupils were thrilled.
Then we organised the prescribed medicines for the children we brought to Dr Wilson’s clinic last week and taught them our school prayer before we left.
Now I think it’s safe to say that we were all so happy to see their reactions and we hope we can see such happy faces again tomorrow when we return to St Matthews.
Written by Sophie Fowler
Today has been a day of shopping. Usually this would be my kind of day, however, after yesterday’s venture into the Lilongwe river market I realised it was not going to be a walk down Oxford Street (no Topshop in sight)!
We managed to source all of the agricultural supplies for the feeding programme from one vendor as well as maize seeds, fertilizer and the required fumigants. Mr Nagle and Miss Greenway said that this never happens and it was another case of everything coming up Aisling (we are exactly where we are meant to be – God knew I couldn’t cope with another day at the scary market).
We then started to look for equipment requested by the schools to support them in educating the learners. It was a real eye opening list. At school we often seek investment in technology or expensive materials to use in class. Our list of items was backpacks for teachers to carry their books and plastic bowls for the children to eat their porridge – bags and bowls.
We noticed that the children with bowls were eating porridge with their fingers so we also invested 11000KWA (£11) in 800 spoons.
Over the last 10 days I’ve witnessed things I hadn’t prepared myself for.
I’ve seen Cardinal Wiseman pupils become young adults – Grace on the first day at clinic playing sports with so many poorly children, making their day, a day they will always remember – Casey teaching a lesson with over 100 pupils, and them all paying attention and responding to what she’s taught – Shivam walking out of St Matthews with so many children following him (also the card games he’s taught) – Charlotte being the queen at the markets, haggling her way through – Abbie’s fly away comment about feeling she could now move away from home for university after this amazing experience – Sophie being so aware in reflection just how important our support network in Malawi is, with Edgar and his family – Shaylah so kind, working as a solo (leaving her twin at home) and being so present in every experience she’s encountered- Connor, the music legend of the group, stands up to every task, a true gent!
Mr Nagle thank you for being the butt in every joke….
Miss Greenway the heart and soul of the whole trip, you know everything …. THANK YOU.
Written by Miss McClelland
Today we went back to Kasina Health Clinic to observe and work in the ART (anti retroviral treatment) Clinic that treat those patients with HIV. We all assisted, took and recorded patients’ blood pressure, heart rate and weight ready to then be issued with their relevant drugs. This was shocking for us as we had a quick induction and then the medical staff all left the room for us to continue! Where in England would a group of pupils be allowed to do this unsupervised, if at all.
We also sat in with Sister Cecily to observe some of her consultations in the palliative care room. Whilst there we saw a lady who had HIV and epilepsy and who had had a fit and fallen face down into the fire. She had not been taking her medication as she was trying to blackmail the clinic for more food. She had gone 60 days without seeing the clinic and had missed 23 doses. Some of us also observed the testing for HIV.
Following this we were taken to the Under 5s Clinic and watched the weighing of the babies and saw them all receive their early vaccinations. This was at an outreach post at a local community centre. We all travelled by one of the clinic’s 2 very small ambulances along the bumpy road.
Later in the day, on the way home, we went to the local river market to buy supplies for St Harry’s and St Matthew’s. This consisted of three large cooking pots that will be used for the feeding programme, fabric to make more children’s school uniforms and empty maize sacks ready for the harvest to be fumigated.
The whole experience in the market place was slightly overwhelming with narrow streets which became a maze to us but it was very interesting to see and be a part of.
Written by Grace Pinder
1 July 2019
Today was another early start for our team. We left camp before breakfast to make our way to the health clinic in Kasina on the border of Mozambique.
We were greeted by Sister Mary who insisted we start with tea and scones (try turning down an Irish lady offering refreshments).
After a tour of the facilities we got down to work. Casey & Abbie helped set up the laptops that we donated and introduced fundamental Microsoft office skills to a class of locals.
The rest of the team worked with the medics by recording the weight, height and blood pressure of some of the women in the postnatal unit. It was really pleasing to see some of the handmade baby clothes being handed out to these new mothers who seemed very grateful.
The palative care unit deals with those coming towards the end of life, some of which find it difficult to attend the clinic. The medical supplies and first aid packs that we have sourced are having an instant impact in supporting patients and their families during this difficult period.
Now it’s back to Lilongwe and next stop: a tuk-tuk ride into town…
Tsalani bwino!!! (Stay well in Chichewa)
Written by Mr Nagle
DAY 6/7 – The Weekend
29 and 30 June 2019
The weekend began with our team visiting the pottery. Just taking our few steps inside, the whole team were in awe of the intricate and beautiful range of mugs, plates, sinks, jugs etc…
After our leave from the pottery our team took our first visit to the health clinic in Kasina. We were unexpectedly welcomed by the youth groups that were awaiting our arrival and we spectated the activities that they had in store for us. The activities ranged across different traditional dances and ended in a collective dance session that the team got involved in (except Mr Nagle)…
Eventually Sister Mary came to invite our team to the nuns’ house. To the delight of our team, a grand feast (or something similar of that description) was served and we discussed the activities of the team with the nuns. Before we left for camp, we gave donations consisting of baby clothing, electronic devices and $2000 which the team helped to raise to the nuns in which they were very grateful for. Our monetary donation solely funds the epilepsy clinic which has become a real problem among the more rural communities.
The following day could be described as our team’s “relaxing time”. After an uplifting celebration of Mass at the local church, the long anticipated trip to Lake Malawi started with an extremely long 4 hour journey to the Safari Lodge overlooking the lake.
However, the road trip rewarded us with a surprising appearance of different local wildlife (including a human sized monkey) but most obvious of all a stunning view of Lake Malawi (definitely worthy of a post card photo). Approaching the afternoon, the heat finally hit hard on the team and we quickly were down to short sleeves and bare feet.
Our team made our way to the lake and we were met with never ending numbers of fishing boats and paddle boats. The team found a spot to play and relax and some members took a dip into the lake (but only as deep as knee height).
After having dinner and waiting as the evening arrived, we had a small but sweet musical performance by two of Edgar’s children, Wellington and Annabelle. Our team enjoyed the performances and we even participated in one song.
Watching the sun descend into the horizon, it was finally time to leave the Lake and head back to camp. As we all got comfortable in the back of the truck and laid down for the upcoming return journey, we were all ushered to sleep by the vast pattern of stars that lit up the Malawian night sky that were truly as astonishing as the lake.
Written by Shivam Pandya
Friday, 28 June 2019
Today was set aside as a shopping day for all of the medication for the pupils that were seen by Dr Wilson earlier in the week.
We started by meeting Dr Wilson at the pharmacy warehouse to collect all the medicine. Whilst we were there we noticed that they had Malaria treatment tablets for 450 kwatcha (45p) per box of 24 tablets. So it was decided that as an added help we would buy 100 boxes of treatment for the schools as Malaria is one of the highest killing diseases in Africa. To think that to potentially save a life it is the cost of 2 carrier bags back home.
After collection the team made our way to Dr Wilson’s clinic to sort all the medication into bags for the individual children of St Harry’s and St Matthew’s. This took a long time as we had to label all of the tablet bags and then count them all out into individual prescriptions. Working as an efficient team we managed to make 200 bags containing up to 8 different types of medication for the pupils which left a very rewarding feeling with us all to see the help we can give. Along with this there are follow up medications for each pupil for later in the year.
We then started our journey home and, due to British tradition, it was Friday night rush hour meaning it took over an hour to get home.
Written by Shaylah McCartney Dias
Thursday, 27 June 2019
After two days of visiting St Harry’s we still couldn’t prepare ourselves for the greeting we received at St Mathews.
On arrival we were met by hundreds of ‘learners’ who smiled, waved and chanted ‘Azungu’ as they ran towards the truck.
After we were introduced to the head teacher, we met the school’s staff members who made us feel more than welcome. We learned that the school had 1,524 pupils and only 19 teachers, two of which were on maternity leave and don’t get replaced.
They then took us to see their fruitful harvest from the seeds bought by last year’s Malawi team which filled our team with hope for what we can do for the school.
Later we were treated to performances by some staff and learners. Highlights included a teacher singing his song ‘I give myself away’ and a freestyle dance from a talented student. Following this we overlooked the feeding program which provided pupils with a much needed meal. They feed different classes on different days, today it was standard one and two.
We then took 48 children to the health clinic where they had a check up, a health pack and were given clothes donated from people at home. While waiting for the truck we played games and learned some songs from the children still at the clinic.
As we were about to leave the clinic, Miss Greenway spotted a young girl who had walked to to see the doctor with her mum. She had a badly damaged leg that was wrapped in a dirty bandage and was clearly weeping and infected. As a team, we decided to pay for her treatment. Her leg was so bad because the family couldn’t afford for it to be treated straight away and had to wait until they could earn enough money. The treatment cost 5,000 kwatcha which is £5! So sad to think that we wouldn’t think twice about spending that amount of money on sweets.
After another amazing day we headed back to camp to prepare for tomorrow.
Written by Abigail Sheridan
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Today we visited St Harry’s school once again and after a meeting with the teachers we were taken to observe various classes. Theses classes were standard 2, 3 and 5 and we were so humbled to witness up to 6 students sharing one text book. In standard 2 there were 123 pupils all of which had to sit on the floor as there were no desks. In none of the lessons did we see any pupils writing as they don’t have access to pens and paper. All pupils were desperate to answer questions and read out loud.
We then taught classes of our own- Shivam and Sophie focused on biology, Abby and Charlotte taught maths and Myself, Shaylah and Grace taught English. In our class we asked the learners to draw a picture based on different verbs. At first we didn’t think that they understood what we were saying to them but when we looked at the work they absolutely did and we were so pleased.
After this the children all ran to the field to chase after the rugby ball Mr Nagle was kicking into the air. Miss McClelland and Miss Greenway then handed out some Coventry marathon shirts that were kindly donated and we held a race which we recorded to help raise awareness for next year’s Malawi team.
Just before we left for the day the staff treated us to bottles of pop and biscuits and we lead the staff on the Cardinal Wiseman School prayer.
Afterwards, we left the school and went to the wood market. It was really busy and we were constantly being asked by the stall holders to buy from them but we all enjoyed trying to haggle for the best deal.
Written by Casey Bartlett
Tuesday, 25 June 2019
The day started with a reflection from Miss Greenway where she spoke about not changing lives but enhancing them and not trying to save the world but making it just that little bit better. We were also told that we may not see the end product of our efforts in the short time we are here but we are helping to make the projects more sustainable.
This was then followed by the prayer from Oscar Romero ‘We plant the seeds that one day will grow ….’.
We visited the first of our primary schools – St Harry’s. Here we were warmly welcomed by a fantastic cultural assembly by their ‘learners’ ranging from standard 4 to standard 8 with a display of dancing and a beautiful choir. We had a formal meeting with the head teacher where they updated us in the program from last year and how we can further help during this visit.
We were then taken to see their feeding programme in action which is funded by the Cardinal Wiseman Trust and took turns serving the porridge to the children. We were told that each class has over 160 students, with only one teacher ! And we moan at 30!
Afterwards, we took 50 children to the local clinic to see the doctor in an open back truck and played with them whilst they waited for Doctor Wilson to treat them. It was a really eye opening experience! After they had been seen each pupil was given a new school bag donated by Coventry University, a set of new clothes and a health pack containing soap, tooth paste, face cloth and sanitary products.
We are visiting the school again tomorrow and can’t wait.
On the way home Miss Greenway treated us all to the local sugar cane. Some found this easier than others to eat but mainly we just made a mess!
Written by Charlotte McSharry
Monday, 24 June 2019
After a 26 hour journey, we have finally arrived in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, to a warm welcome from Edgar, Wellington and Innocent.
Today being our first day we thought it would be a great opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. Lilongwe is a busy capital, the streets are filled with local tradesmen vying for custom. The market is an interesting experience – instead of having a set price we have to haggle for a price we want to pay.
We have been introduced to James, a local wood craftsman. Some of his gift making we intend to bring back for our loved ones.
We have been allocated our rooms and are currently preparing for adventures tomorrow which will include taking 50 pupils from St Harry’s to see the doctor.
We are excited to begin our mission tomorrow, to help as many children as we can.
Written by Connor Gibbons
Written by Connor Gibbons