Welcome to the final update for 2018 and as you can see from the picture above, the rains are here, and Malindima is looking green again. The last two months have been an extremely busy time for Mphatikizo with four volunteers visiting from New Zealand.
While we have had some great successes there have also been some issues, most of which arose during our time in New Zealand. The most disappointing was that there was quite a bit of minor theft which collectively has cost a lot. This resulted in the Orphanage water supply being cut off and an accompanying bill amounting to some $780 NZD. Money sent to pay the monthly water bills while we were away was stolen by two, possibly more, community members; a situation I believe other members of the community were aware. Regina and I agonized as how to deal with this situation and after much discussion decided to close the feeding centre 2 weeks early (opening two weeks later next year) to try and recover some of the costs. We are a community organization and the community need to take responsibility of the charity work whether Regina and I are here or not. We hope the community will understand that this theft is against them and has a direct impact on the wellbeing of others in the community.
Water will be a necessity once the medical clinic is operating fulltime and it is also needed for the feeding centre. There is a borehole at the community centre, but we wish that to remain for community use and not to add unnecessary pressure to a valuable and a much needed village utility.
This situation is one of the many difficulties we face working here in Africa. We are in a very poor community here in Malindima and poverty is a powerful driver for people who are often in desperate situations. We are a small charity and setbacks like this hurt us and the community. Regina and I have spoken with all those employed by Mphatikizo with one person, known to be involved in the theft, leaving the charity. All community members and elders are aware of our zero tolerance to theft and we now hope the right adjustments have been made to minimize the risk of this happening again. This has been a difficult time for us all but is very much a part and parcel of work in Africa, unfortunately.
Now to much better news, which I am happy to say better reflects the last couple of months here in Malawi. From the last update we talked about Dr Derrek Allen who was here for a month both treating patients and assessing the possibilities of operating a clinic at the orphanage. Derrek left Africa some 2 weeks ago having treated over 1,000 patients working both at the clinic and in isolated communities on an outreach programme.
The work with Derrek was some of the most effective work Mphatikizo has done to date. He will be returning next year in April with a nurse to both continue the clinics and expand on what we achieved this year. He has asked for the following items at the clinic next year; a small fridge for holding drugs, solar gear to power the fridge, a lockable cabinet and of course the water! Derrek’s work touched a lot of people who normally have little to no access to proper healthcare or drugs. There is potential for Derrek to spend several months with us each year and we have had interest from other health professionals following his visit.
The Landrover proved invaluable during this project both accessing isolated communities, ferrying gear and people, and unfortunately far too often as an ambulance. A huge thankyou to Derrek, you are very missed here in Mtubwi!!!!
Our next big success has come with the arrival of Phoebe and Rosa, two teachers from New Zealand who have been working with our Pre School teachers and community kids doing Phonics training. The results of this have been astounding with one small girl announcing to me in perfect English both her name and home village! These great results are not only limited to the kids. Our Pre School teachers are upskilling themselves and running an outreach programme where they trained teachers from 14 out-lying nursery schools. The following is a brief outline of the programme written by Phoebe and if you would like to read her blog please visit our website.
NZ teacher volunteers Rosa and Phoebe have been working with the Mphatikizo nursery programme over recent months. The focus has been enriching the learning programme for under 6-year olds to include writing, English vocabulary, free play, counting games, Chichewa folk stories, early literacy, and read aloud sessions with picture books, in fast-paced, variety-filled mornings. We also supported the local volunteer teachers in outreach training of other teachers from 14 other nursery schools in the district in these skills.
After school education
Community volunteer Esther has worked intensively with Phoebe to learn to teach Phonics, a system of literacy learning which is amazingly effective for children from non-literate backgrounds. As a result, Esther is teaching up to 40 children every weekday afternoon to boost their literacy, with great improvements in reading and writing seen already.
See in the photo our pre-school teachers with Phoebe and Rosa in the Library, from left Beatrice, Phoebe, Ester, Rosa and Ester. Ester in the centre worked tirelessly in this project and was incredibly quick to pick up the programme. Next year she will manage on going outreach training, work together with new volunteers expanding the programme and oversea the teaching of our kids at the Pre School. Rosa and Phoebe have also been busy organizing the library which we hope will become mobile next year with the Landrover visiting outlying villages each Friday with a book exchange programme. This will both compliment and expand the training given by Ester to those teachers completing the Phonics training.
Teachers receiving Certificates at the completion of training at the Pre School run by newly trained Malawian teachers. Sustainable development at its best.
The next picture is of Riaan, our last but not least volunteer with us a present. Riaan is an Aircraft Engineer from Christchurch and has been a long-time supporter and friend for many years.
Riaan has helped me more than words can explain doing anything and everything from helping to keep the Land rover running, fixing bicycles, repairing solar systems to IT. He and Phoebe will be here until Boxing Day and they will be missed very much. In this picture Riaan was tasked with ferrying bricks in the Landrover, 38 degrees with snakes included!
The last picture is of one of the houses in Malindima Village. Next year we hope to start a project addressing the housing in the village. We hope to work with the community to re-roof 10 houses next year, with all going well another 10 the following. We will also carry out repairs to some structures with at least 3 houses being rebuilt entirely. This will be done with a group of volunteers organized by Richard (one of our Trustees) and the community who will provide bricks and labour. This will be a significant project and in a busy year with the clinic running from April through June and volunteers arriving in May!
I will finish this here and say as always thank you for your on-going love and support. Many people work behind the scenes to enable us to do what we do.
To Rachaelle and the kids from Burnside who sold Xmas hampers raising $500, to the volunteers who travel here from NZ, to the many of you who give every month from my family and the community in Malindima thank you for caring. Have a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Year.
Much Love and Hugs from the Smedley family.