Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday in Southern Malawi

This morning we got up early and headed out to Clinic #4 in the Thyolo (pronounced cho-low) region. We met with the Dr first. There are two doctors on duty who take shifts. There are some 4 nurses and midwifes also on shifts. The clinic serves some six hundred women and children each week.

On Saturday before we arrived they delivered 15 babies. They avers some 165 births a month. They do check ups for new borns. They see the mothers before and after they give birth. They are a clinic who serve some 51,000 people from the surrounding villages; some even come out of Blantyre to their clinic.

They had very little space and supplies were everywhere and they went through them very quickly. The first area I visited was for the mothers and their children. It was packed I bet there were over 50 families waiting in line to see the doctor. While they are waiting they listen and are encouraged to watch videos about malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention. They also watch pre-natal, childcare, and family planning videos.

We then made our way to another building were expectant mothers were waiting. They had about 25 waiting for check-ups. I met the midwife who then gave me a tour of the delivery room and then took me in to see the new mothers and their babies. They can only stay one day after they give birth and then must make their way home. One of the mothers was supposed to go home but waited to see us. We were there to meet them and give them all malaria nets.

While they are in the clinic they have a number of nets so most, though not all, are protected from the mosquitos. We then went to another part of the building where the mothers waited to deliver. Many times the young mothers would arrive to early. So they stayed in this other ward. Unfortunately, they did not have nets. The midwife confessed that they did not have enough beds sometimes.

Malaria continues to be a major factor in healthy mothers and children. You can make a difference and help the Diocese of Texas meet its goal of giving 30,000 nets by going right now to our website and giving:

Each net will help cover 5 people and can save the lives of many young children.

The Diocese of Southern Malawi partners with Doctors without Boarders, the EU, and many other groups to help make this clinic successful. It is a government run clinic but without the many NGO (non governmental organizations) it could not make a go of it.

The Diocese of Southern Malawi has built and is now putting in the windows to a new maternity clinic in another part of the region. This clinic will be very similar but will be run solely by the Diocese and its partners and it will serve an area which has no medical care for mothers and their children at this time. We the Diocese of Texas along with other Episcopal partners and the Anglican Communion are making a tremendous effort take shape here in Southern Malawi. There is still a lot of work to be done. We will need to furnish the clinic before it opens.

After our visit to the clinic we headed to the Leonard Komungu Theological College. We were met there by Dean Alinafe. We began with tea which was nice after our busy morning and drive. We visited with the professors of New and Old Testament as well. Dean Alinafe teaches systematic theology. A number of the clergy in the diocese serve as adjucts as well.

The school property was purchased by the province and stood vacant for some time. The students mostly went to the Presbyterian seminary down the road which had an Anglican study program. The students grew maize on the property.

Then a company came to build a dam in the area. The company offered to build the buildings and use them in exchange for the lease. Then when they were done they would give it to the church. So that is how the College came to be built. Later funds have redone some of the spaces and built classrooms and the new library.

The goal of the college is sustainability. The different diocese of the province all are responsible for dues which keep the college open. However, not everyone pays or pays on time which creates a problem for the school. So, the school is combining agricultural technology with revenues and education. They have a crop which they feed some portion to their pigs, which multiply, and they sell. They already have a goodly number of pigs and the crops have prepared them for a good return this year. The seminarians help and they too learn the trade. So as they go out and serve congregations many are implementing the same skills to create revenue and self-supporting congregations.

We went down to see the chapel which was originally designed as a garage. You would not have known it from the outside or inside. They showed me around and then we went up to the altar. They pulled back the frontal and told me this story about the altar.

One of the great men of their diocese was a man whose name was Chauncey Maples. He was a missionary and went to England to be consecrated their fifth bishop. Chauncey made his way home by way of a boat. Not just any boat but a river boat steamer which was used as a floating Anglican Theological College and missionary tool to reach different parts of Malawi. (It was later given over to the government and was used as one of Malawi's official fleet). The steamship had a chapel and library on it. Along the way Chauncey died before reaching his see in Malawi. He was thrown over board and new the steamer cold not return to get him. So he left his cassock on that they would know when they found him that they had found the bishop. The Steamship was later retired. Some years ago in a mission not far from the college they found the altar from the Anglican Missionary Steamship. That today is the altar in the chapel!

We then toured the library and classrooms. The library now holds more than 17,000 volumes and is the largest library of its kind in the city. Most Malawians do not have books. They are too expensive. So a library is an essential treasure to the school. Somba where the college is located is an education town with a number of universities and colleges (secular and theological).

They are hoping to open up a computer lab. This will have the obvious impact for the students who attend. But as part of their revenue plan they will lease out time on the computers to other students in the town.

They also lease space in a dormitory for students who do not attend the school using space that is not otherwise occupied and bringing in funds.

I was very impressed and echoed Dean Travis interest in exploring ways our two schools might be in relationship with one another.

After the tour we headed up for lunch on top of the nearby mountain which overlooked the lake created by the damn builders. They had a wifi hot spot so we were able to do a little work before heading back into town.

You can follow my photo journal from my trip here:

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